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We are family-- but what kind?

Feb 11, 2006 07:12 AM
by kpauljohnson


Following up Adelasie's comment that we are all in this together, 
like it or not, I congratulate her on belonging to the one 
Theosophical organization that has never (AFAIK) been the subject of 
feuds, denunciations, etc. here.  The main reason that my interest in 
communication with Theosophists has increased of late is that I have 
joined an organization that has roots intertwined with those of the 
TS.  Although I retain fondness for Cayce and good memories of local 
ARE study groups, the ARE as a whole never felt like a spiritual home 
to the extent that the Theosophical movement did.  And its politics 
are even nastier than those of Adyar!  In time I might share more 
about my new affiliation and its relationship with the TS, but theos-
talk does not feel like a safe place to do so.  It has definitely 
made me more aware of my kinship with Theosophists-- but that is a 
mixed bag since Theosophists tend to focus most of their antagonism 
on spiritual kinfolk rather than strangers.  I would consider 
Anthroposophists, Arcane school members, Fourth Way followers, and 
many other groups with Theosophical roots as spiritual cousins.  But 
fear that if they came here in a spirit of openhearted fellowship, 
they would be furiously attacked and driven away.

Here are two extreme examples of kinship being a source of antagonism 
or friendliness.  Last night I attended a community event 
commemorating a turning point in the American Revolution that 
happened here.  They had period music before the main program, and a 
soloist gave a heart-stirring rendition of "Johnny's Gone for a 
Soldier."  Her last name was given as Haskett.  My grandmother was a 
Haskett and the name is so uncommon that I have never encountered 
anyone with it outside my family circle.  So afterwards I hastened to 
meet her and her husband.  Saying "my grandmother was a Haskett" 
sufficed to induce a warm smile from both.  When I asked if his 
people were from northeastern NC he said no they were from Indiana.  
Instantly I knew that there was an extremely painful memory tied up 
in our kinship.  The Hasketts were Quakers who due to their 
opposition to slavery were pretty much driven out of the state 
between 1820 and 1860.  Those who stayed abandoned the Faith, 
sometimes motivated by the desire to hold on to their slaves when the 
Quaker authorities ordered them to do so on pain of disfellowship.  
Those who kept the faith were forced into exile.  Imagine all the 
broken hearts and family ties of that era! I said something 
like "your people chose Quakerism over slavery, and mine made the 
wrong choice."  Acknowledging the deeply painful family divide, but 
not considering it a cause for any feeling other than mutual empathy.

When spiritual rather than physical kinship is the connecting link, 
it can often be a source of far greater antagonism than would be felt 
if there were no kinship at all.  The most extreme example I know is 
the Baha'is, where followers of rival offshoot sects are 
called "covenant breakers" and loyal Baha'is are ordered to shun them 
completely.  To the extent that if one spouse becomes a CB, the other 
one must abandon him/her immediately or be declared CB too, because 
it's a spiritually contagious disease.  Ditto, one would have to 
disown one's child and throw them out of the house if they joined a 
rival group.

Is the way Theosophists feel and react towards members of related 
organizations more like the way people feel towards their distant 
cousins, or the way Baha'is feel towards covenant breakers?  It 
varies from case to case, but alas common ancestry tends to be more a 
marker for antagonism rather than friendliness within this "spiritual 

It doesn't have to be that way.  As Adelasie's spotless record here 
demonstrates :)


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