The Gospel of St. John / Presentation by Robert McDermott

Here is a summary of our meeting of the Section for the Literary Arts and Humanities of the School for Spiritual Science in North America that occurred on Saturday February 5, 2022 on Zoom. Next meeting: February 19, 2022 at 7 pm Pacific.

Friend, colleague, and longtime member of the Section since its founding, Professor Robert McDermott, gave a presentation. Robert spoke about his recently completed Introduction to the 1908 Hamburg lectures by Rudolf Steiner on the Gospel of St. John, a new edition currently in preparation at SteinerBooks with a translation by Frederick Amrine. 



Our Section Meetings for 2022 Have Begun!
Currently, meetings are scheduled every two weeks this year. Watch the website for updates and additions. Salons and poetry nights and artistic events such as movie premieres, Fairy Tale nights, recitals, dramatic readings, writer roundtables, and hybrid surprise events (in-person and Zoom and/or live streaming) may occur off schedule. This year, as previously, will feature several guest speakers, along with poets and creative writers. Keep an eye on website for updates and events and news of Section activities and offerings throughout North America and elsewhere.


“Hearts to You!” photo by Elliott Tripp


In Remembrance of Gertrude Reif Hughes
At our meeting on February 5 we spent some time in remembrance of a founding member of the North American Section for the Literary Arts and Humanities, Gertrude Reif Hughes. Gertrude crossed the threshold during the Holy Nights. Many will remember Gertrude for her work as a teacher of anthroposophy, as the author of More Radiant Than the Sun (SteinerBooks) and Emerson’s Demanding Optimism (Louisiana State University Press), and as a professor of literature. Friends and members in the Section may recall that Gertrude inspired the use of the word “Humanities” in the naming of our Section for the English language world. In German, of course, the Section name translates as the Section for Beautiful Sciences. We have spent considerable time in our meetings in discussion of the contrast and importance of these names. It is one of those “open secrets” that directs attention toward matters of esoteric significance, some have suggested.


History of Our Section in North America

For those unfamiliar with the history of the Section of Literary Arts and Humanities of the School for Spiritual Science in North America, you can read the fascinating story of how our Section came into existence (after nearly vanishing entirely) by clicking this sentence.


Collaboration With the Section for the Visual Arts
Patricia Dickson, a colleague of mine on the North American Collegium for the School of Spiritual Science, contributed to our meeting by singing two songs from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Patricia, who represents the Section for the Visual Arts, has a wonderful voice, as many of us know — and the songs she sang at our meeting on February 5 were composed by me especially for her. These “Two Songs” originally premiered at a Section Salon in December 2019 (our last in-person Salon before Covid), but I “lost” the only rehearsal recording of the performance. As luck would have it, I found the file by chance on a spare hard drive during January, and the music seemed quite apt for our February meeting.

Click this sentence to enjoy Patricia’s performance of “Two Songs.”

Perhaps no better person than William Blake can be found to represent the bridge between the worlds of the visual arts and poetry. We have discussed Blake many times in our meetings. Along with Novalis and Goethe and Shakespeare, Blake (with his fellow romantics) is one of the inspiring poets of our local work in Fair Oaks. I look forward to more opportunities to collaborate with other Sections — especially in the realm of creative projects.


The Literary Arts / YouTube Channel
As mentioned several times previously, I have created a YouTube channel to highlight content from our meetings of the Section for Literary Arts and Humanities of the School for Spiritual Science in North America. This channel complements the content currently hosted on Vimeo. With time off last month January for artistic projects and personal pursuits, I had energy to work on this channel and refresh some content. As time permits in the coming months, I will create a Vimeo channel also. Currently, as you know, much of the content from our meetings is hosted on Vimeo. Vimeo in many ways recommends itself over YouTube as a platform. But YouTube gets many more hits than Vimeo when persons google for content and inspiration, some have observed.


The Priest sat by and heard the child,
In trembling zeal he seiz’d his hair:
He led him by his little coat,
And all admir’d the Priestly care.


And standing on the altar high,
“Lo! what a fiend is here!” said he,
“One who sets reason up for judge
Of our most holy Mystery.

— William Blake, “A Little Boy Lost,” from Songs of Experience