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Re: To Robert Bruce MacDonald: "Attacks", etc. Part I

Feb 11, 2006 05:26 PM
by robert_b_macd

Daniel, thank you for the opportunity to address these matters.  I
knew it was only a matter of time before you brought them up.  I am
not interested in addressing every example in turn as that would take
forever, however I will address the two general subjects of what you
call "attacks" on the officers of Wheaton/Adyar, and my criticism of
Paul Johnson in an editorial in Fohat.

Let's start with Paul. As I re-read the editorial, I must agree with
Daniel that the editorial lacks a civil tone which I sincerely regret.
 I got carried away and the only excuse that I can appeal to is
inexperiece at the time.  For any and all harm that Paul may have
experienced for the lack of civility, I apologize most humbly.

That being said, as I read the editorial I see what I was trying to do
was to contrast two approaches.  The approach of a principled
theosophist defending a now denfeseless woman vs. what I understood
many historians to perceive as part of their job.  This job as I
described it in the editorial was to take historical facts and
unproven allegations, assign base motives to the players and then see
what kind of twisted mess you can make of the whole thing.  This was
not an historical rebuttal of the book, as my point was that from a
principled point of view it was unworthy of such.  This was a
philosophical rebuttal of the approach that many Historians take when
putting together a thesis, especially on controversial subject such as
H.P.B.  I suggested that it was possible that Paul Johnson, out of
fear of his peers, took the above approach, and softened such a charge
in the end by saying "Perhaps this is unfair, but in the end there is
no good reason for putting forward these false accusations."  So here
I was saying that although the above analysis may be unfair as far as
Paul was concerned, there is still the question of why he did not
adopt what I call the principled approach.

Let's look at one of the more categorical statements that I made in
the editorial: "Assigning base motives to Blavatsky and her co-workers
as well as twisting facts to fit his sorry vision of the world is a
clear indication of where Paul Johnson's mind is at this point in his
life."  Paul could quite fairly point to this statement as a clear
example of the pot calling the kettle black.  The writer of the
editorial must take responsibility for his own twisted logic in not
giving more weight to compassion for the human condition in presenting
his overly harsh argument. The untying of the Gordian Knot is the
human condition and I am just as involved in the effort of seeing
clearly as everyone else.  In my defense all I can say is that I never
assigned base motive to Paul, only a confused approach.  The criticism
was of behavior, not of character.  I understand that if behavior is
harmful to another (in this case the reputation of H.P.B. and the
Masters) then it is our duty to be critical of the behavior which is
what I endeavored to do.

Let's score 1 for Daniel for my lack of compassion and sloppy
execution of my intended goals.  Paul was not trying to be maliscious
and deserved a fairer treatment.

Daniel also accuses me of a similar lack of civility towards the
officials of Adyar.  All I can do is laugh at this charge.  This whole
debate was covered at the following:
I have neither the desire nor the time to repeat it.  I was held to
account by both Daniel Caldwell and Katinka Hesselink who encouraged
me to write in great detail on the matter.  Whereas I might rephrase
things differently in the context of the current debate, the essential
principles are all there for anyone who should care to search for them.

I am afraid I now have a magazine to attend to and will not be able to
continue our discussions over the next few weeks.  I will check back
sometime in March.  Adieu!

--- In, "danielhcaldwell"
<danielhcaldwell@...> wrote:
> To Robert Bruce MacDonald:  
> "Attacks", "Personal Aspect" or Otherwise to the Attacks, etc.
> Part I
> Dear Robert Bruce MacDonald,
> On Theos-Talk, you wrote concerning me:
> ===================================================
> I don't think anyone is accusing Mr. Caldwell of bad will, but 
> rather of inappropriate behavior. Will speaks to motive which none 
> of us can know. Behavior is there for all to see. I suspect 
> what people object to with Mr. Caldwell is that there is a personal 
> aspect to his attacks....I don't think anyone objects to the 
> principles of the subjects that Mr. Caldwell wants to discuss, 
> but rather to his confrontational style. If after years of trying he 
> hasn't gotten answers to his questions, maybe he should change his 
> approach. What do you think Daniel? 
> =================================================
> Bruce, when I first read the above material from you, 
> I heard a voice whisper in my ear, 
> "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone."
> This has prompted me to decide to write a series 
> of articles with that title:
> "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone."
> Now of course you don't exactly define what you mean by 
> "attacks" or by "personal aspect" but I will ask you 
> to give your opinion of some examples so we will better
> understand your point of view.
> I ask you if these examples could ALSO be considered 
> "attacks" and if they have "personal aspects"?
> I think these examples are even more important to discuss 
> since you also wrote to Paul Johnson the following:
> ===================================================================
> I understand human nature to be such that if we 'act' 
> civil and respectful towards one another then in time 
> we will 'be' civil and respectful towards one another. 
> We learn by doing. If we stay away from inuendo (corrosive) 
> or bold face accusations of ill motive or ignorant motive, 
> then we remove a hurtful element from this site...."
> ===================================================================
> First of all, I'm wondering if these just quoted words of 
> yours have actually guided you as editor of FOHAT and the
> kind of material you have permitted in that Theosophical 
> journal.  
> Or is this policy only a new one that you want to see 
> implemented on this site and not necessarily in the pages 
> of FOHAT?
> But I will deal with this a little later.  
> First the examples.
> The first example I give you is what Mr. Aveline posted 
> here not too long ago.
> I am not certain if the article from which this quote is extracted 
> was ever published in FOHAT or THE AQUARIAN THEOSOPHIST.  
> Do you know if this article by Mr. Aveline was published in FOHAT?
> Anyway, Bruce, would you consider what Mr. Aveline wrote as
> an "attack" and as an attack having a "personal aspect" to it?
> Here are Mr. Aveline's words:
> ==============================================================
> The way Daniel Caldwell and John Algeo  editors of "The 
> Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsty and of "The Letters of H.P. 
> Blavatsky, volume I "  see Theosophy is based in a 
> certain moral relativism. 
> It seems that for this kind of editor everything can be 
> true and everything can be false, according to their own 
> interests. 
> Will publishing libels against HPB make a book "hotter" 
> in the market? 
> May belittling HPB help keeping the structure of the Adyar 
> Society the way it is now, Leadbeaterian, churchlike and
> ritualistic? 
> They won't think twice. They do not seem to care too 
> much about truth....
> =================================================================
> Now Bruce, what is your honest opinion?  
> Does Mr. Aveline's words seem "civil and respectful" to
> you?
> Did Mr. Aveline (to quote your own words) "stay away from inuendo 
> (corrosive) or bold face accusations of ill motive" when 
> writing what he did about Dr. Algeo and me?
> And if by chance this article did appear in FOHAT (I hope it 
> didn't!), do you think you as editor are encouraging
> a "civil and respectful" atmosphere in your magazine by 
> allowing such words to be expressed?
> Now I will turn to the second example which unfortunately 
> I do not have the exact quote for but I'm sure you 
> can probably supply me with.
> Apparently in the Spring 1998 issue of FOHAT, you wrote 
> an editorial in which you make certain comments
> about Paul Johnson's book which he wrote on 
> Blavatsky and the Mahatmas.
> At the time I wrote to you as follows:
> " come down quite hard on Johnson's research 
> and conclusions. In fact, you give a quite negative 
> assessement and portrayal of Johnson's scholarship. 
> And you even do some 'psychoanalysis' on Johnson's 
> motivations, etc. "
> Later in the same letter, I again write:
> "You even indulged in pseudo-psychoanalysis of 
> Johnson's psyche, motivations, etc."
> It would appear that I believed you were indulging 
> in an "ad hominem" argument against Johnson instead of 
> just dealing with the substance of his arguments, etc. 
> as presented in his book.
> Since I cannot find my copy of that particular issue of 
> FOHAT, can you be so kind as to provide me a copy of your 
> exact words (you can simply post your words to this Theos-Talk 
> forum) especially that part where you apparently write about 
> his "psyche" and "motivations?
> Again:
> I ask you, do you think your own written words constitute 
> an "attack" and have "personal aspects" to it?
> Have you in fact followed your own wise words which read:  
> "stay away from inuendo (corrosive) or bold face accusations 
> of ill motive..."???
> The third example:
> In 2003 Volume I of LETTERS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY (edited by 
> John Algeo)was published by the Theosophical Publishing House, 
> Wheaton, Illnois.
> The Fall, 2004 issue of FOHAT contains an editorial by you 
> introducing letters from readers criticizing John Algeo for 
> including in this Volume I of the LETTERS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY the
> "spy letter" (Letter No. 7) and nineteen "Solovyov letters" 
> (especially letters No. 12,17, 53, 69 and 76). 
> Apparently these "HPB" letters are considered by you and these 
> readers to be frauds or at least partial fabrications. 
> In your editorial comments, you wrote as follows: 
> "One could conclude...that the powers of 
> Wheaton and Adyar are trying to introduce
> a PERVERTED understanding of Blavatsky
> into the world...."
> "There are very good POLITICAL  reasons
> for including those letters. Adyar and
> Wheaton embrace a brand of 'theosophy'
> that is built upon the work of Annie Besant,
> Charles Leadbeater, and their worshipping
> followers." 
> "Adyar and Wheaton have to believe, and they
> have TO ENSURE that their members believe in
> the sainthood of at least Besant. This 
> sainthood cannot be guaranteed if Blavatsky,
> Judge and their interpretations of the Masters
> are not made suspect. The easiest way to
> accomplish this is TO ATTACK  the reputations
> of these two founders of the society and 
> attribute to them base, political motives,
> to make them as ethical as a Jesuit. 
> "Adyar and Wheaton obviously WANT these letters
> included in these collections and YOU CAN BE SURE 
> that they will not be the last of 
> their type. There will be other letters
> of the same ilk in future volumes. If
> you are members of these organizations, do
> not let your leadership get away with this."
> [Quoted from Fall, 2004 issue of FOHAT] Caps added.
> Now Bruce I ask you:
> Is this an "attack"?
> You certainly don't name names but you make vague references to 
> Adyar and Wheaton and to their "leaders" so one might assume you are 
> referring to certain flesh and blood Theosophical leaders who are 
> doing all these things!
> And you even claim that "they" are engaged in a specific attack!
> And you seem quite confident in what you state and even say:
> " can be sure..."
> Bruce, do your own words here reflect a "civil and respectful" 
> attitude?
> Did you follow your own advise to "stay away from inuendo 
> (corrosive) or bold face accusations of ill motive..."?
> I will present more examples in Part II.
> Daniel

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