Originally printed in the NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2008 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: "Letters to the Editor." Quest 96.6 (NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2008):.
I am writing to applaud your suggestions for the future direction of The Quest. I completely agree. It strikes me that from issue to issue articles appear that are largely a permutation of words and ideas from articles in previous issues.
I am one of those readers who "adhere to the Society's core principles, including the idea that there is a universal 'secret doctrine' that has been expressed over the millennia in countless and often apparently contradictory forms." I welcome "wide and disparate viewpoints," and "literate, stimulating, and spiritually enlivening writing."
We all seek to evolve spiritually, become more compassionate, practice mindfulness, etc., but to me the magazine is overbalanced in that area. I wonder if Theosophists consider that their founder's "Secret Doctrine" is more about the inner mechanisms of the universe than about "working on ourselves," or "being a better person," even though those goals are of great importance.
In spite of the validity of the perennial philosophy, there is also something to be said for adapting our inner lives to keep in sync with the ever more rapidly shifting outer reality we now live in.
I sometimes feel like The Quest is a magazine from the past that has time-traveled into the present.
I'm encouraged that you are now the editor.
Dear Mr. Smoley,
I'm very happy to see you as executive editor of The Quest! Gnosis used to be the only spiritual magazine that I found at the time which I felt sufficiently worthwhile to subscribe to. It was a big loss when it folded. Even now the number of spiritual magazines I do get is small: apart from The Quest, The Mountain Path (Advaita), Venture Inward, Atlantis Rising, and Nexus are the only ones I subscribe to that have some spiritual content, although the latter two of course are much broader.
I think the big challenge for you is that TS has been in the doldrums for a long time. The value of the TS, of course, is that it is not a religion. I am firmly convinced that religion is the bane of spirituality, and the TS makes sure not to preach dogma, nor does it have a hierarchy that needs to fatten themselves or dominate others. But it cannot do much if it comes across as geriatric.
So I think something has to be done to make it clear that new folks and new ideas are on the rise. Spirituality is of great value to all, not just old folks. Indeed you can see this if you go to most New Age bookshops—I do not feel that they cater primarily to the elderly. So, in principle, TS should be able to capture the same broader demographic.
One very small suggestion I would have is to get David Icke to write something. His book Infinite Love Is the Only Truth, Everything Else Is Illusion constitutes the most remarkably panoramic view of spirituality that I've encountered in any book. He is primarily known as a lecturer on Illuminati/conspiracy/ET topics, but he has achieved an amazing depth of spiritual knowledge and this particular book (of his many) puts it across forcefully.
—Vytenis Babrauskas, Ph.D.
Dear Betty Bland,
Why are you still using glossy paper for The Quest when other options are more environmentally responsible?
Thanks to you and your team for holding the light of Theosophy in our challenging world!
Editor's note: Good question, and one that we get from time to time. The quick answer is that we use glossy paper for its esthetic value. We don't use recycled paper for the very simple and unfortunately very crucial reason that it is still more expensive than nonrecycled. Like much of the nation, we are facing tight strictures on our budget. Our paper stock is, we believe, the best choice available for both appearance and affordability.
John Algeo, in his article on Colonel Olcott (Sept.-Oct. 2008), makes the following statement: "Today, the 'theory' of evolution is accepted fact, and the means by which physical evolution happens are fairly well known. Except for some dogmatic religious fundamentalists no one doubts [its] reality."
Not true. Over five hundred scientists have signed on to this statement "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."
The changes needed to account for the development of even the simplest life forms require multiple random events to occur simultaneously. When the mathematics of probability are applied to this event, the time period required easily exceeds the age of the universe.
Another problem for the Darwinists is the existence of the irreducible complexity of certain biological systems. Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, spells this out in his book Darwin's Black Box. There are many more anomalies in Darwin's paradigm, but they are not taught or discussed in our schools for fear of challenging the scientism of the day. Thomas Huxley stated over a century ago: "Even if Darwinism is clearly false above the microevolutionary level, it is nevertheless the only scientific theory available, and that is more important than the question of truth or falsity."
Lastly, I would suggest that John get a copy of Intelligence Came First (1975) by E. Lester Smith, a Theosophist and Fellow of the Royal Society who raised many of the same objections to Darwinian evolution that are now getting some attention.
Editor's note: The statement mentioned above is entitled "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism," promulgated in 2001 by the Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. To view the list of signers, visit http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org .
I enjoyed Richard Smoley's article, "The Future of Esoteric Christianity," in the July-Aug. issue. I thought that esotericism was an occult idea. The article made it clear that as a Catholic Christian, I was an "esoteric" without realizing it, as I was always oriented toward the mystery of things while keeping a distance from what was going on in the institutional side.
The article says that "the human race is ready for something different." Over thirty years ago I was introduced to an idea that was indeed profound. Thomas Berry [author of The Dream of the Earth and other works] was the man with that vision. He has proposed to take Christianity out of the age of Aquinas and into a vision of cosmogenesis—a self-regulating, emergent universe that has had a psychic dimension from the beginning. He has called for a theology of reconciliation between humans and the earth and for a worldview that is scientific in its data and mystic in its form.
Hanna, Alberta, Canada
Dear Mr. Smoley,
Shame on you. Your otherwise excellent article on "The Future of Esoteric Christianity" was remiss in failing to mention Unity as one "denomination" that is oriented toward the esoteric perspective. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were very familiar with Blavatsky's works, and many Theosophical tenets resonate throughout Unity philosophy. I cannot believe that you are unfamiliar with Unity, but if you are not, I would suggest you become so. One good book is The Unity Movement: Its Evolution and Spiritual Teachings by Neal Vahle.
I'm not trying to be sarcastic. I really can't believe that you made no mention of Unity in your article.
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