Thursday, December 5, 2013

Letter from the General Secretary - December 2013

- Arie van Ameringen

Dear Friends,

Climbing up the steep path towards the Goetheanum in November, one is taken by the surrounding natural landscape. Even though the fruit trees have already lost their leaves, the grass is green and there are still flowers. And the cows grazing with their young add to the charm of the rural setting. But at a certain point along the footpath leading to the west entrance (lined with the boundary stones which date from the time of the first Goetheanum building) one suddenly catches sight of an immense crane more than 70 meters in height rising above the roof on the east side – a clear sign that the repair work on the roof is well underway. And once inside the Goetheanum, at certain times during the day, a deafening, dizzying sound of jackhammers can be heard coming from the south side of the building.

Repair and renovation work at the Goetheanum
During the meeting of the Executive Committee with the sections leaders and general secretaries, we were invited to tour the worksites. We were reminded of the fact that the repair work was originally undertaken for safety reasons: worn-out slate tiles dating from the 1920s and dangerous backstage equipment.  

In the great hall, the rows of seats and the proscenium area were covered with sheets of plastic. In the back, some fifty workmen on scaffoldings were busy dismantling walls and tearing up flooring. The repair work had to be temporarily halted when a layer of asbestos was discovered in the metal fire curtain installed on the stage; rectifying this situation will require meticulous attention. The stage area will undergo a profound transformation, including the creation of an orchestra pit capable of accommodating as many as 70 musicians. There are also plans to create in the west entry hall area a space more suitable for receiving visitors, since the present Wanderhalle is not fully adequate. On either side of the west entrance there are outside staircases which lead to the terrace but are closed off by fencing and not used. Incorporating this space into the inside of the west entrance will allow a large reception area to be built.

There are still serious decisions that remain to be made. Should the present location for the statue of the Representative of Man be rearranged to create a space for the work of the School for Spiritual Science by adding seating? Should the sculpture be relocated? Should a room reserved exclusively for the work of the School be built in the south wing in the space freed up by the renovations being made to the stage area?

The General Secretaries’ meeting
During the week of November 5th, Constanza Kaliks began our series of meetings by giving a brief introduction on the theme of the year: The “I” recognizes itself – aspects of the laying of the Foundation Stone.  She recalled how human beings have entered progressively deeper into their relationship with matter since the fifteenth century; we live in a man-made world that has caused us to completely forget the spiritual world. 

Since the 19th century, it has become possible for human beings to think the “unimaginable” (thoughts for which we have no images), initially in the field of mathematics, but now also in other domains. More and more, the awareness of the Self is being awakened through the fact that it is recognized by another human being. The world is now perceived as a whole – exchanges through modern media technology facilitate proximity and overcome the obstacle of physical distance. Are we able to say “yes” to the world (Weltbejahung)? To what extent do we find this affirmative openness to the world in anthroposophy? In the Leading Thoughts of November 16, 1924, Rudolf Steiner gives us an image of Michael as a being who affirms himself throughout the ages and by so doing affirms the world by bringing the forces of the cosmos.
We discussed various topics such as: communications, the General Anthroposophical Section, the staging of Faust in 2016, and the planning for the upcoming “members’ day”. A quite unusual but highly pleasant event took place: a “word café” style meeting with members of the Agricultural Section. This entailed a series of face-to-face encounters with individuals who did not know each other engaging in free conversation on specific topics, and it turned out to be a very cordial experience.
The Goetheanum is seeking to strengthen collaboration between the School for Spiritual Science, the Anthroposophical Society and the work done in the various fields of everyday life. In what ways can one become competent in these fields of endeavour? Where is Anthroposophy active? Where are the sources (of inspiration) to be found in the various areas? How can we build anthroposophy?
The members’ meeting at the Goetheanum (November 8th and 9th) took place in an atmosphere of transparency and honest exchange. Three main topics were taken up: a) how to enter into conversation when holding opposing points of view on anthroposophy; b) the question of the rearranging of the interior space of the Goetheanum building; and c) the critical edition of the works of Rudolf Steiner.
Other events 
There is now a study group in Quebec City that has been meeting regularly since March. This group is carried primarily by Louis Casgrain. This is quite good news, because for years now several small initiatives have emerged in the city but have not lasted. We are hopeful that this initiative will bear fruit in this the oldest city in North America (founded in 1608). I shall have the opportunity of meeting with the members of this group very soon.
At the end of January, the Council and Class Holders will meet in Toronto to contemplate aspects of the laying of the Foundation Stone in 1913, the Fifth Gospel, and the question of the General Anthroposophical Section. The council is looking forward to meeting with local members on the evening of Thursday, January 23rd.
 Until then, may the Holy Nights be inspiring and fulfilling for you.
Arie van Ameringen
General Secretary

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