Archive for November, 2007

Memory eternal: Karl Pruter

November 19, 2007

Many of the regular readers here probably already know that Bishop Karl Hugo Pruter died yesterday evening, November 18, 2007, at age 86.  I blogged about his memoirs (The Blue Jellybean) back in March.  He wrote extensively on Old and Independent Catholicism (e.g., The Old Catholic Sourcebook) and was one of the best known and most loved bishops in the independent movement.  He was a former Congregationalist minister, and I think the intersections of free church/congregationalist thought and Old Catholicism in his work could stand more exploration than they have seen thus far – and might contain interesting hints for future ecclesial directions.  A project for someone!


A word from Harry Smith

November 18, 2007

I have been reading American Magus Harry Smith: A Modern Alchemist, edited by Paola Igliori (New York: Inanout Press, 1996).   If you don’t know Harry Everett Smith (1923-1991), look him up on wikipedia – it’s worth your time.  As the back of the book says, he was a “filmmaker, anthropologist, painter, ethnomusicologist, folklorist, magician, alchemist, and legendary archivist of sediments of human activity in motion.”   He was also a bishop of the thelemic Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica.  One snippet from an interview:

You are a Cabala expert, Harry?

Hmmmm.  Well, the word “cabala,” I suppose, means hidden or something like that, so I’m, of course, not. I would try as much as I could to give any kind of information to anyone.    (p.286)

That’s my kind of initiate.   The only real mysteries are the ones you discover through your own experience.  Everything else can be published on the front page of the newspaper. 

Memory eternal: James Niedergeses (1917-2007)

November 18, 2007

Last Friday, James Niedergeses, the retired Roman Catholic bishop of Nashville, died at the age of 90.   Bishop Niedergeses was a genuinely kind, wise, loving, pastoral bishop.   (Rare enough!)   My favorite memory of him is a class he gave for eucharistic ministers, years ago.   Inevitably, questions arose about who could receive communion, and what to do if someone who should not receive (according to the rules) comes up in the line.   The bishop told a story about a day when a homeless man from West End Avenue came into church during mass, and headed up front for communion.  Niedergeses asked him, “Son, are you Catholic?”  The homeless man looked the bishop in the eye and asked, “Are you?”  The bishop said he never questioned anyone again. 

May Bishop Niedergeses pray for us from his place within the Great Life.

Will Tuttle: The World Peace Diet

November 17, 2007

This afternoon, I had the great experience of listening to Will Tuttle speak.  (   He’s very impressive and thought-provoking.  If you get the chance, you should not miss it.   A couple of years ago, I was asked by Quest Magazine to review his book, The World Peace Diet.   The review has been backlogged but should appear soon.  However, I am posting it here as a preview:

The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual and Social Harmony.  By Will Tuttle.  New York: Lantern Books, 2005.  Paperback, $20, 318 pages.


            Will Tuttle’s The World Peace Diet is a challenging wake-up call.  Many spiritual traditions, including Theosophy, have advocated ethical vegetarianism and care for animals.  However, the compelling reasons for such a position have rarely been articulated with as much detail and force as in Tuttle’s fine new book.  His tone is urgent and uncompromising, yet filled with compassionate understanding.  Even if one may not agree with him in every point, he forces the reader to consider matters which too often remain unconscious.

            Tuttle writes that his book is:


… an exploration of the profound cultural and spiritual ramifications of our food chain and the mentality underlying them.  By placing humans at the top of the planet’s food chain, our culture has historically perpetuated a particular worldview that requires from its members a reduction of essential feeling and awareness – and it is this process of desensitization that we must understand if we would comprehend the underlying causes of oppression, exploitation, and spiritual disconnectedness. (xiv)


            Graphically reviewing the horrors of factory farming and slaughterhouses, Tuttle reminds us that we reinforce our blindness to these realities with every meal that includes animal products.  Some of us may feel more comfortable with dairy and eggs, since animals are not directly killed to produce these foods.  However, Tuttle displays the deeply disturbing conditions under which chickens and cows typically live, as well as the character of theft which underlies milk and egg production.  He then relates this theft to “our culture’s basic repression, confinement, and exploitation of the female and feminine principle.” (115)

            Tuttle reminds us of the essential solidarity and interconnectedness of all life.  We cannot pretend that we can mistreat other sentient beings with impunity, regarding them as commodities instead of fellow creatures.  “Dominating others requires us to disconnect from them, and from aspects of ourselves as well.” (130)  From a theosophical perspective, we can welcome Tuttle’s examination of what we might call the karmic consequences of our treatment of animals raised for food, as well as the invisible, energetic realities which we consume in animal food. 


Metaphysical toxins – i.e., the concentrated vibration of terror, grief, frustration, and desperation permeating these foods, are invisible and completely unrecognized by conventional science, yet they may be even more disturbing to us than physical toxins, because they work on the level of feelings and consciousness, which are more essential dimensions of ourselves than our physical vehicle. (137)


“In the old herding cultures, animals were gradually transformed from mysterious and fascinating cohabitants of a shared world to mere property objects to be used, sold, traded, confined, and killed.” (25)   Insofar as we can see through this distortion, and make more conscious and compassionate choices, we will be better able to disentangle ourselves from other ways in which violence, destruction, and the treatment of others as objects have found their way into our lives.  After all, “our actions reinforce attitudes, in us and in others, that amplify the ripples of those actions until they become the devastating waves of insensitivity, conflict, injustice, brutality, disease, and exploitation that rock our world today.” (221)