List of articles
As promised in the February newsletter each newsletter until November will deepen the study of the chemical elements to reveal the Christ Element at work.
These articles will be taken from Dr Hauschka's book The Nature of Substance.
Nitrogen is of such a nature as to lend itself to being a carrier of feeling as well as of breathing. Everyone knows how closely related to feeling breathing is. When we feel joyful our breath quickens. When grief weighs on the soul, breath comes slowly and heavily. Sanguine people have a faster pulse and breath- count than melancholic natures do. Breathing is a constant rhythmic mediating between man and his surroundings. Every breath we draw brings the outside world into us. This enables us to have a feeling of our surroundings, similar to a touching with hands and fingers or a grasping with thought. One of the greatest achievements of the new approach to man inaugurated by Rudolf Steiner was the discovery that the breathing system is the physiological basis of feeling, as the nervous system is of thinking.
A distinctive social fact is that we all breathe the same air; there is nothing we do so much in common as breathing. All other possessions tend to be individually owned, and people even go out of their way not to share objects of personal use. No modern person likes to eat out of the same bowl with others. But we all enjoy the air in common. Certainly there are fresh—air fiends who even want their own air to breathe and cannot bear to be shut up with others in a single room. This is especially true of the English. And what is the reason for it, if not egoism? Is the fact of my inhaling something of another person’s being not a way of feeling what his nature is — feeling it lovingly?
Since carbohydrate is the substance of plants, they are bound to the soil and have the power neither of movement nor of feeling. The typical animal substance is protein. This is in part the product of cosmic movement, which comes to physical manifestation in nitrogen. And in the blossom, where plant and animal worlds touch and commingle, the plant-protein of the seed grows as the fruit of that meeting. In seeds, with their freedom to separate from the mother plant and seek new homes, plants acquire a certain mobility.
It is significant that nitrogen is found only in the free state in inorganic nature, and never as part of any chemical compound. Since nitrogen is the carrier of movement, it cannot be bound. It must be free to move. But technology has succeeded with enormous effort in tying nitrogen to oxygen. The two substances are forced under pressure through an arc of electric flame (in the Birkeland-Eyde & Schönherr process). This yields saltpetre, or nitric acid, a material used in the manufacture of nitro-cellulose (gun cotton), nitro-glycerine, picric acid, and all the other modern explosives. Saltpetre was even an ingredient of the old-fashioned gunpowder invented by the monk Schwarz.
Now what is an explosive if not imprisoned motion? And there is, in fact, scarcely a single explosive that does not contain imprisoned nitrogen.
The Gospel Study
The Gospel Study during February has begun an understanding of the Holy Spirit. When we read in John’s Gospel 14: 16 Jesus tells his intimate disciples that He will pray the Father to send another Comforter (Jon Madsen rendering of the Emil Bock translation). It may be a better translation to use the word Paraclete (which is a direct transfer into English from the Greek word). This means advocate, someone on your side who will speak up for you. The first Comforter to the disciples was the Christ. This Being, the Paraclete, can be described as the giver of spirit courage and the Spirit of Truth. John, in the first part of chapter 16, describes how the Spirit of Truth will call all of humanity to account. But, he also makes it clear that there is an intimate relationship between the Spirit of Truth and the Father in that he says that the Spirit will speak only what He hears, He does not speak out of himself.
Considering the Baptism in the Jordan we know that the Spirit descended from heaven like a dove and stayed connected with Jesus. From this we can understand that the incarnation of the Christ into a human being (Jesus) and the Christ-in-me in all human beings is possible only through the Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes possible the Christ connection to humanity. We hear in our Creed that it is the working of the Holy Spirit that prepared the son of Mary to be the bearer of the Christ. Thus, while Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit only late in his ministry, the Holy Spirit was there, working before Christ incarnated.
Turning to the writings of Luke in the Acts of the Apostles the arrival of the Holy Spirit is described in chapter 2. Michaël began this study by describing the twelve senses described by Rudolf Steiner, and how the human being from childhood into adulthood begins to engage with these senses. The first senses to become free in the life of a child in the ages before school are the senses of touch, wellbeing, movement and balance. Before puberty the senses of smell, taste, sight and warmth become free. The higher senses that only become free as the youth progresses to adulthood are hearing, speech, thought and the sense of the other. (In teens we clearly find that they almost stop hearing and speaking; this is the great frustration of parents, and when they begin to hear and speak again it is in a new way that was not present in childhood. This is what is meant by the senses becoming free.) In the first twelve verses of Acts chapter 2 the four higher senses are engaged in this same order: sound, speaking, thinking and finally, the other. The Spirit arrives like the sound of the rushing of a mighty wind. The Disciples begin to speak in a way that their words are comprehensible in every language. And the Spirit appears as tongues of fire – tongues of fiery speech. Those who hear begin to engage their thinking into what is occurring. Although the people present are from the far corners of the Roman Empire, they stand as one community in that they all hear the “great things of God” together. They can truly see the other.
This introduction into a fuller understanding of the Holy Spirit will lead us into the writings of Paul in March. The Gospel Study asks that everyone engage their thinking with the Gospel writings and that the evening is more than a lecture but coming to grips with meaning through sharing of thoughts. Everyone is welcome to join at any time and there is tea, coffee and often biscuits provided to make the evening sociable as well.
Old Testament Study
The Old Testament Study followed on from the crossing of the Jordan by the Israelites after spending forty years in the desert during which time everyone who had crossed the Red Sea with Moses had died and a new generation of Israelites was initiated in the crossing of the Jordan. Upon entering the land that had been promised to the Israelites YHWH (Yahweh of the Elohim) hoped to “marry” the culture of the city of Jericho with the culture that He had established among the Israelites, but the city of Jericho closed itself off, not only physically but also spiritually and therefore become anathema to YHWH. One woman showed her faithfulness to YHWH and recognised that He was a mighty being with a plan that was intended to include her culture. She is Rahab, known as the unfaithful one, because she was not faithful to Jericho. She was spared the fate of Jericho together with her whole family and was absorbed into the Israelites in being given in marriage to one of the young men, Salmon, she had aided when they first came to investigate the situation in Jericho. This marriage enters her into the line of Judah from whom Jesus is a direct descendent.
Her son, from this marriage, Boaz marries Ruth who is a Moabite woman who is faithful to her husband and mother-in-law to the extent that she cannot return to her Moabite home after her husband dies but swears allegiance to YHWH and her mother-in-law, Naomi when Naomi returns to Bethlehem after the death of her own husband and of both her sons. Ruth means friendship, and her reputation as a companion friend to Naomi is quickly known in Bethlehem, the “House of Bread”. They arrive at the time of the barley harvest. Bread at the time was baked from a mixture of wheat and barley. Ruth wishes to help her widowed mother-in-law and goes to glean in the fields. She finds herself in the fields of Boaz who notices her for her dedication to her task. He invites her to eat with him and dips bread in wine to give her. He then gives her roasted gain to eat. and she eats her fill and there is left over. But she does not waste and takes the left-over home to Naomi. The dipping of bread in wine prefigures the Last Supper while the feeding with left-over grain prefigures the feeding of the multitude. Being a close kinsman of Naomi, Boaz has a right of redemption of her and over Ruth. He can redeem them from their state of being without husband and family. Boaz prefigures the deed of Christ as the redeemer. Ruth follows the instructions of Naomi which brings her into the situation with Boaz where he can exercise his right of redemption. But there is another kinsman, who throughout the story remains nameless as he is that insignificant, who has prior right of redemption. Before elders and other witnesses Boaz offers the right of redemption to this kinsman, who at first is delighted, but upon realising that it places the inheritance of his sons at risk foregoes his right to Boaz, thereby providing Boaz, who is unmarried, although no longer young, the right to inherit the possessions that went from Naomi’s husband to her sons. Boaz marries Ruth and provides her with a son, a grandson to Naomi, who Ruth presents to Naomi as the son who will inherit the goods and lands of her, Naomi’s, husband. Ruth thereby becomes another non-Israelite woman to play an important role in the lineage to Jesus. Her son Obed is the grandfather of King David.
The Cultural Evening on Friday 18 February acknowledged the month of love with an evening of romantic poetry, both Romantic in the style of the Romantic Poets and romantic in being about love and romance. The heavy rains that preceded the evening, and only let up as we started, did not deter the diehards, and while the gathering was small, the poems paid true homage to romance. We were privileged to hear two poems read by the poet and to hear an original song sung by the lyricist. No evening of romantic poems is complete without sonnets. We listened to Sonnet 116 Let me not to the marriage of true minds by William Shakespeare and the more down to earth Sonnet 130 My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun. The sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning How Do I Love Thee (Sonnet 43) and Sonnet 14 by John Donne Batter my heart, three person'd God. John Donne got a second reading with The Good-Morrow. E.E. Cummings was a favourite with three poems. The evening opened with love is a place. We heard i carry your heart with me (i carry it in) and shared the love he had for his mother and the relationship between his parents in if there are any heavens my mother will (all by herself) have
one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses
John Keets made an appearance as the epitome of a Romantic Poet with La Belle Dame Sans Merci. He was flanked by Catullus, the Roman poet of c. 84 - c. 54 BCE and two poems by Jane Fox. Two modern poems that may also be lyrics, although they were recited as poems by their respective authors (on YouTube) were When a Boy Tells You He Loves You by Edwin Bodney and I wish I was a photograph by Andrea Gibson. Another modern poet, with a large Instagram following, is Pavana Reddy from whom we heard a very short poem:
in your hands.
like a chance
to make things
A cup of tea or coffee and a rusk, a scone and some peanuts made the evening homely. By the end of the evening everything felt right again.
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