Oct 1, 2019

CultNEWS101 Articles: 10/1/2019

Film, Former Extremist, Waldorf School, Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy

"There were quite a few films about cults at this year's TIFF, and one of the more provocative meditations on human manipulation came from Finland. Titled Maria's Paradise, Zaida Bergroth's film was inspired by the true story of Maria Åkerblom, who ran a cult in rural Finland that caused a major scandal back in the 1920s.
'I got extremely intrigued by this main character, Maria Åkerblom," Bergroth told us when she came to the Deadline studio with her cast. "She lived in Finland in [the] 1920s, she was a leader of a Christian cult, and she was extremely charismatic, but she had a very dark side to her. After that, we started to write the script and explore her character, and then we came up with a story about Maria and her favorite girl follower, Salome, a young teenager who absolutely adored her, and didn't see anything negative about her actions. It was their relationship that really intrigued me.'"

" ... Deradicalization and counter-extremism programs, especially those involving former extremists, are relatively new in the United States, but they have a longer history in Europe, according to Lorenzo Vidino, the director of the Program on Extremism, who helped recruit Morton to work there as a researcher. The U.K.'s Quilliam—which describes itself as "the world's first counter-extremism organization"—was founded as a think tank in 2007 by three British former radical Islamists.

The Obama administration launched its own "countering violent extremism" initiative in 2011, with a variety of programs aimed at helping local law enforcement share information, do community outreach, and try to prevent attacks. The program was always a target for criticism, ranging from complaints about underfunding to accusations that it unfairly focused on and stigmatized Muslim communities. Right-wing extremism, moreover, was not a top priority then, and one organization dedicated to countering it got some funding under Obama but saw it lapse under Trump.

But there wasn't a systematic effort to recruit formers into that project early on. Vidino had observed the European experience and thought such a strategy might be useful in the United States, though he told me he was aware of 'some of the issues.'"

(Google Translation)

Too close to the Waldorf school world?

" ... Because Esther Saoub was the author of a contribution in the Tagesthemen, which dedicated itself to the 100-year existence of the first Waldorf schools in Germany.  She is also the author of the 45-minute SWR documentary "Waldorf global - a school goes around the world", which is still in the ARD-Mediathekto see is . And: Esther Saoub was a Waldorf student herself, her children attend a Waldorf school, she is a board member of the school association of the "Waldorf School Uhlandshöhe", she appears on podiums of the Waldorf school celebrations and she was supposed to moderate the festive event last weekend. In short: Ms. Saoub seems to be closely associated with the Waldorf world. Should someone write reports on the topic for public media?

Is surprised that Esther Saoub has made the documentary about Waldorf schools: Volker Lilienthal, Professor of "Practice of quality journalism" at the University of Hamburg.

"No," says Professor Volker Lilienthal, the chair of the "Practice of Quality Journalism" at the University of Hamburg: "The fact that Esther Saoub herself appears as a writer, I'm very surprised." The author Saoub is indeed socialized in public service broadcasting, she knows the professional standards, she would have had to do without herself. " The contribution in the Tagesthemen was "an advertisement for the Waldorf schools," wrote the Humanistic Press Service (HPD).

Criticism of the Waldorf schools in 45 minutes documentation? None. Of course, there would be a lot of criticism about Rudolf Steiner, the founder of reform education. His statements on racial issues and Judaism have been widely criticized. Sure, such racial stereotypes were prevalent in their day, but they did not show up in 45 minutes of filming. A subordinate sentence in the film touches on this criticism marginally: "The Waldorf schools explicitly distanced themselves from its partly nationalist positions in the Stuttgart Declaration in 2007". More criticism is not found in Saoub's films."

" ... Rudolf Steiner, the intellectual father of Steiner schools.

The Austrian-born #occultist, who died in 1925, left a vast body of work covering everything from biodynamic farming to alternative medicine.

It is known, collectively, as "anthroposophy".

The SWSF's guidelines from 2011 said that schools using the #Steiner name were obliged to prove "an anthroposophical impulse lies at the heart of planning for the school".

Since 2013, this has been made vaguer: they now need a commitment to "the fundamental principles of Waldorf education".

Those ideas are based in a belief in reincarnation.

Pupils may not have been sold this creed, but Steiner was very strict that teachers were not supposed to pass them on to children - just to act on them.

So, for example, the Steiner curriculum's focus on a late start to learning is driven by the pace at which souls incarnate.

An odd rationale, but not a very worrying result. Other consequences, however, are potentially more troubling.

For example, Steiner himself believed illnesses in our current lives could be explained by problems in the previous ones.

And in overcoming illnesses with a root in a previous life, individuals could gain "reinforced power" and improve their "karma".

Vaccination, in effect, gets in the way.

'Unvaccinated populations'

That may help explain the Steiner school attitude to vaccination.

The schools state that they have no formal policies and parents must choose for themselves.

But children in Steiner schools are less likely to get their jabs.

The Health Protection Agency - before its recent abolition - used to note that Steiner schools ought to be considered "unvaccinated populations" for measles.

Related ideas of the benefits of overcoming adversity emerge elsewhere.

The DfE memos report a complaint that a teacher allowed violence among children for karmic reasons, and cites teacher training resources that are sympathetic to this idea.

This karmic belief set also has a racial element.

As we reported last week, Steiner was, by any modern definition, a racist.

'Hierarchy in races'

He thought black people were distinguished by an "instinctual life", as opposed to Caucasians' "intellectual life".

He believed each race had a geographical location where they should live - black people in Europe were "a nuisance".

There was also a hierarchy in races; a soul with good karma could hope to be reincarnated into a race which is higher up in the hierarchy, Steiner argued.

The SWSF says: "While the superficial reading of a handful of Steiner's voluminous, extensive lectures present statements that appear racist in modern terms, none of these occur in his educational writings."

But some of these ideas have polluted some Steiner schools.

The SWSF was "horrified" by our report on a diversity training day at a private Steiner school, which had been triggered by a real issue around racism.

Four white teachers, asked to tick a box giving their ethnicity, ticked every box.

They believed that they had ascended through all the races.

Some Steiner schools also teach about the lost continent of Atlantis - a myth that, to Steiner, explained the origins of the hierarchy of the races."

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