Spengler unmasks and allows a peek at the inner workings that he wrapped in the pseudonym. It’s all very interesting and I’m just beginning to digest it. At first read, I respond to the klunk on my musing surface to a piece of Spengler’s journey to open identity.
Spengler writes of his time in a cult, “The question, of course, is what were a group of young Jews doing in the company of a cult leader with a paranoid view of the world and a thinly disguised anti-Semitic streak.” In part, he answers, “There existed a science of mind, LaRouche claimed, that would enable the adept to reach the right conclusion.” and more, Larouche claimed to trace a tradition of secret knowledge across the ages, from Plato and Plotinus, through the Renaissance, and down to the German scientists and philosophers of the nineteenth century. Of course, that raises a question: If there exists this kind of knowledge, then why isn’t it universally shared? The reverse side of the gnostic page is paranoia: There must be a cabal of evil people who prevent the dissemination of the truth.”
It reads like gripping fiction, reminding me, with my fully accepted Judeo-Christian underpinnings of Gen 3: 4-5, “You certainly will not die! No God knows well that the moment you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.”
I would tend to run afraid for my soul. The scenario would rouse a voice that speaks to me, that I know would say, “At first blush, you will blush and then you will no longer blush, as headlong you pursue a dream or call it temptation. With heady glee, forbidden pleasure will be recast for the ‘good’ it promises. Soon you will become like gods in your private reveries or privy little worlds; not only knowing what is good and what is bad, but you will have known good and bad in that intimate way of knowing that spoils the good like food gone bad. Throwing your whole self into pursuit of what might be tasty and alluring, knowledge itself will be your cavorting and you ravenous. You will run after experience so as to judge by your own proclivities what delights, what titillates and what requires more of your self than you can give or share. What a god, indeed!
Have I gone too far? I tend to jump to conclusions and without input, I get stuck there. I’m still listening and will dive in again. “Confessions of a Coward” by Davis P. Goldman is a must read.
It touches me because for three years I trained at Mt. Sinai Hospital School of Nursing and it was formation ground for me. My friends during those years were all Jewish. Their Jewishness was different from my Catholicism. An encounter with Thomas Merton’s “the Seven Storey Mountain,” began me on the life long practice of daily Mass and prayer. That set me in a direction in which I continue still today.
The Jewishness of my friends was expressed with more subtlety. There identity as Jews was perceptible, solid and unwavering. It raised a sense of admiration in me. I, however, can’t recall a single religious conversation.
Even today, in my prayers for them, I don’t know how to pray. Their faith is precious to me. I want to see it lived to the full. I guess I know they are a peculiar people whom God, not only cherishes, but for whom He plans providentially a future full of hope and abundant blessing. There seems to be in me a sense that God planted this seed, continues to water it and will bring it to marvelous fruition in His time. I pray for them wordlessly.
As for Spengler, my favorite part is:
Around 1985, the ugly awareness that I had spent almost a decade in a gnostic cult coincided with a dark time in my personal life. Deeply depressed, I sat at the piano one night, playing through the score of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and came to the chorale that reads: “Commend your ways and what ails your heart to the faithful care of Him who directs the heavens, who gives course and aim to the clouds, air and wind. He will also find a path that your foot can tread.” For the first time in my life, I prayed, and in that moment, I knew that my prayer was heard. That was a first step of teshuva—of return.
The truth is that I did not think my way into praying. I prayed my way into thinking.