Friday, August 31, 2018

Dear Valentin Tomberg

This was written in 2013. Today, I would probably be less skeptical to this kind of material. 

I posted a review of this curious book here at Amazon two years ago. At the time, I had only read about 100 pages. By now, I suppose I have devoured another 100! "Meditations on the Tarot" is a fascinating attempt to create a synthesis of Christianity, Hermeticism and the cosmic evolutionism of Anthroposophy. Of course, some people would argue that this is simply a home-coming for Hermeticism, which in its modern Western form has been Christian or "Christian" from the Renaissance onwards. The "anonymous" author of "Meditations", Valentin Tomberg, was an Anthroposophist who developed differences with the orthodox line of Dornach and eventually joined the Catholic Church. Indeed, his book has an afterword by Hans Urs von Balthasar (!), an important Catholic theologian and associate of then-cardinal Ratzinger. But while interested Catholics might imagine that Tomberg's oeuvre was a clever way of converting occultists to Catholicism, the opposite is more likely: the author was an occultist mole within the bosom of Mother Church. Of course, it's possible that Tomberg didn't see any contradiction between exoteric Catholicism and esoteric Hermeticism-evolutionism, but that would hardly be the "official" position of the Vatican.

Indeed, this is the most annoying aspect of "Meditations on the Tarot". While the author constantly calls on the reader to accept the authority of the Pope, the Church hierarchy and the Jesuits, his *own* ideas are anything but traditionally Catholic, if the book is read carefully. Tomberg believes in reincarnation, the Akashic chronicles, and has a "spiritual" interpretation of the resurrection, similar to that of the Tibetan "rainbow body". He does believe in a general resurrection, but only if the individual human wishes to be resurrected. God can't force anyone to resurrect against his or her will. Tomberg is also an Origenist universalist, and believes that even the Devil can be saved. When discussing cosmic evolution, Tomberg references Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, but I suspect the idea really comes from Rudolf Steiner. Sure, Tomberg constantly criticizes black magic, nihilistic views on nirvana, and so on, but this isn't really Catholic either, but a kind of "right hand path" Hermeticism.

So if Tomberg doesn't subject himself to the authority of the magisterium, why should we? Indeed, it seems as if the main group of Tombergites, the Sophia Foundation, are closer to Anthroposophy than Catholicism. They have republished Tomberg's Anthroposophical writings in flashy new editions.

Another meditation of mine on Tomberg's book: the author has an "integral" or "inclusivist" approach, in which all paths are seen as "true" in a certain sense, except that his own path is the highest one, while the others are lower. Thus, the Akashic record exists on three different levels, with the lower ones being interspersed with negative-astral forces. The higher one, inevitably, proves Tomberg's position! The author is also very scholastic, having answers to pretty much everything, including clever harmonizations of seemingly contradictory positions (such as creation ex nihilo versus evolution). While this does appeal to my own "dogmatic" side, it collides rather heavily with my sceptical side. What evidence does Anonymous have that his dogmas are the true dogmas?

Perhaps the world would be a splendid place if Valentin Tomberg's sermonizing was true, but this unknown friend remains unconvinced...

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