Recently in Steiner's Character Category

That Rudolf Steiner was did not desire to mix his work with politics is evident in the following quote:

The General Anthroposophical Society is in no sense a secret society, but an entirely public organization. Without distinction of nationality, social standing, religion, scientific or artistic conviction, any person who considers the existence of such an institution as the Goetheanum in Dornach - School for Spiritual Activity in Science and Art - to be justified, can become a member of the Society. The Anthroposophical Society is averse to any kind of sectarian tendency. Politics it does not consider to be among its tasks.

Rudolf Steiner, "The Life, Nature and Cultivation of Anthroposophy." Rudolf Steiner Press: London, 1963, page 5.

Steiner aginst dogmatism

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That Rudolf Steiner rejected dogmatism and encouraged his followers to remain independent-minded is evident in the following quote:

"As a result of the Christmas Foundation Meeting, Anthroposophy and the Anthroposophical Society should become ever more and more united. This can never be the case as long as the seed continues to flourish which has been disseminated through continual distinction being made in anthroposophical circles between what is 'orthodox' and what is 'heretical'.
Above all one must know what the true standard and content of Anthroposophy should be. It does not consist of a sum of opinions which must be entertained by 'anthroposophist' It ought never to be said amongst anthroposophists, 'We believe this', 'We reject that'. Such agreement may arise naturally as the result of out anthroposophical study, but it can never be put forward as an anthroposophical 'programme'. The right attitude can only be: 'Anthroposophy is there. It has been acquired by persistent effort. I am here to represent it, so that what has thus been acquired may be made known in the world.' It is still much too little felt in anthroposophical circles what a difference-indeed as between day and night exists between these two standards.

Rudolf Steiner "The Life, Nature and Cultivation of Anthroposophy." Rudolf Steiner Press: London, 1963, page 52.

Steiner an atheist?

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"atheism - (from Greek a theos, 'not god') The denial of the existence of any god or supernatural being."
The OXFORD WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA 2003 Edition.

Occasionally I have come across the claim that Rudolf Steiner was an atheist in the 1880's and 1890's, before he founded Anthroposophy. By the above, the standard definition, I think it is clear that Steiner never an "atheist". Steiner himself claimed that in the 1880's and 1890's he was anti-clerical, not anti-spirit, and his objection was to salvation from without and not to the basic existence of a spiritual world. As a self-professed idealistic philosopher during this time, he would have to believe in some form of a "spiritual" world, almost by definition. A critical review of his writing from that time period does not, to my knowledge, find evidence to contradict this. Clericalism and Anti-Clericalism were significant trends in Austria during that time, and I do not think that every person who was Anti-Clerical was pro-atheism, especially since many who were Anti-Clerical were Protestant ministers.

Steiner at a christening

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"I would next like to relate what happened at the Christening of my son Christward Johannes because that too shows so much of Dr. Steiner's character. It was in our room that the ceremony was enacted in the house of Frau Wirz which is the present `Schiefer' boarding-house. We had decorated the room very beautifully with flowers and the altar stood beneath the 'Milan' Christ picture. My son wore a traditional light blue Christening gown and was in a 'carrying-cushion' of the same colour. It had been worn in our family for generations and looked very festive and splendid. To my dismay the child cried a lot during the service and afterwards Dr Steiner Said to me: 'Yes, he was hungry.' I told him that he had had his bottle just before the Christening but Dr Steiner said, 'Nevertheless he was hungry. Get him another bottle straight away.' I was a little afraid that it might not be good for him because the ward sister had told me not to give him too much to drink. But when the bottle was ready Dr Steiner took the child on his lap, sat down comfortably in the armchair and fed it himself f and the bottle was empty in no time. 'You see, he is happy now and is laughing. Give him an extra bottle from me every day.' It did the child a lot of good and he throve splendidly."
(this was approximately 1923)
Reminiscences of Rudolf Steiner and Marie Steiner-von Sievers
By Ilona Schubert
Temple Lodge Press, London 1991

Steiner in Prague

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"Dr. Steiner dearly loved Prague. Time and again he walked through the city and drew the attention of those accompanying him to special objects of interest. He drew particular attention to the connection of the two chapels: the Wenzel Chapel in the Cathedral and the Hradschin and the Chapel the Holy Cross in the Karlstein Castle. It gave him especial pleasure to show us in the Goldmaker's Alleyway, where the alchemists used to live in the Middle Ages and which today still exercises a peculiar charm." (pages 38-39)
Reminiscences of Rudolf Steiner and Marie Steiner-von Sievers
By Ilona Schubert
Temple Lodge Press, London 1991
Translated by John M. Wood

Steiner on tour

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"And what fun we had on the long train journeys! Dr. Steiner visited the other compartments many times inquiring how we all were, made jokes and encouraged us. On one occasion we arrived in Prague fairly well exhausted after an over-night journey and were received by our hosts and hostesses in the usual way. After a ceremonious greeting the latter wanted to take their guests home with them but Dr. Steiner said, 'Wait a moment, first of all we want to have a good breakfast. I invite you all for that. The eurythmists must discover what a good Bohemian breakfast of coffee in the Kipfeln [croissants] is like." So this huge party sat down in the station buffet and enjoyed a very happy and comfortable time together."

From:
Reminiscences of Rudolf Steiner and Marie Steiner-von Sievers
By Ilona Schubert
Temple Lodge Press, London 1991
Translated by John M. Wood

Steiner at the theatre

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"I was at the theatre with Dr Steiner an another occasion. It was a most amusing episode. Die Fledermaus was being performed in Mannheim which we heard of while we were sitting at lunch ­rather like on the previous occasion in Stuttgart. Dr Steiner was enthusiastic about it straight away and suggested that we should all go to see it. He even started to hum some of the tunes and said, `Are you as fond of Die Fledermaus as I am?' Whereupon I answered that I did not know it, for at that time I felt myself far too superior to go to an operetta! But Dr Steiner was of the opinion that one simply has to know it - 'It is a classical piece of music.' So again there was a large party assembled that evening in the theatre and we were all very happy. The one who enjoyed himself most was probably Dr Steiner. His Viennese nature with its familiarity with and love of the Strauss waltzes came to the fore. And how well he knew his Strauss! During the intervals he prepared us for the humorous bits that were to come and I noticed that during the performance he occasionally looked our way to study our reactions."

From: "Reminiscences of Rudolf Steiner and Marie Steiner-von Sievers" By Ilona Schubert

Temple Lodge Press, London 1991

Steiner as drama coach

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The original Goetheanum was built not primarily as a lecture hall, but as a theatre in which to stage the Mystery Dramas and other plays (Goethe's Faust, Ibsen's Peer Gynt among others). Steiner loved theatre, and spent years as a drama critic in his "Magazin für Literatur" (one entire volume in the complete works contains just his reviews of plays that were staged in mainstream theatres in Berlin from about 1896 to about 1904 - I'm too lazy to pull it out and check the dates). When Steiner wrote his four plays (between 1909 and 1912) he was intimately involved in their staging, advising on set design and coaching the actors. Theatre remained a central part of the Anthroposophical Society to his death and beyond. The quotes below refer to the period after the end of the First World War.

"In Dornach at Christmastime the Oberufer Christmas Plays were presented - they still are to this day. At that time there were no professional actors in Dornach. Those who were allowed to take part were all amateurs. It was an established tradition for the Schuurman couple to take a part of the Angel and Devil, a fact which lead one child to ask its parents if Angel and Devil are always married to one another. This gave rise to great merriment in Dr. Frau Dr. Steiner and in all of us." (page 40)

"These plays [the Oberufer Christmas Plays], collected by Carl Julius Schroer, are written in the Austrian dialect and it was priceless to see how the different actors - mostly foreigners - wrestled with the pronunciation. Dr. Steiner articulated most of the sounds, explained the meanings of the words and often acted them himself until the players could succeed in their efforts." (page 43)

Reminiscences of Rudolf Steiner and Marie Steiner-von Sievers
By Ilona Schubert
Temple Lodge Press, London 1991
Translated by John M. Wood
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"None of us will forget what a performer Rudolf Steiner himself proved to be. His Cid was shattering. Danton and Robespierre could be heard and seen as if on the streets of Paris. Unusually moving was the lapidary scene in Lessing's Faust fragment, in which the spirit of Aristotle appears." (page 250)

Meetings with Rudolf Steiner
Albert Steffen
Verlag Für Schöne Wissenschaften, Dornach 1961
Translated by Reginald Ernest Raab, Erna McArthur and Virginia Brett

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