Living on the Fringe: A Memoir

When Ed Entin decided to torch his draft card, everything about his life changed. He had his whole life mapped out. It was 1966 and Eddie had just been accepted into Yale Law School—his ticket out of the Army and Vietnam and into a life of secure prosperity. 

It took only one day, one decision to change the course of his life. What follows is a sometimes harrowing, often hilarious, and always illuminating ten-year journey through the social, political, and spiritual turmoil of the era. 

For anyone wondering how it was back then—or how to get through right now—Living on the Fringe provides a look at how one person waded into the turbulent waters of his time and came out whole, dry, and ready to face the future. And with a new name to match the person he had become.

“Abraham Entin has written a really magnificent book . . . a delightful read from cover to cover. So buy it and read it—you won’t be disappointed.” —Ken Cloke, author, founder and director of Center for Dispute Resolution

“Abraham Entin has written an outrageous, hugely entertaining memoir . . . about what it’s like to go up against the man and come out smiling—and still fighting—on the other side.” —Saul Rubinek, actor, writer, producer, and director in theater, film, and television


How to Achieve Existence in the World of Ideas

Two Lectures Cycles, Followed by Two Christmas Lectures Dornach, October 3–7 
and December 12–20, 1914; Dornach, December 26 and Basel, December 27, 1914 (CW 156)

The first lectures expand on the idea of inner “reading” and “hearing” as the path to spiritual knowing. The spiritual world gives something and we, as spiritual researchers, receive and then read or interpret it. Spiritual knowledge is not a matter of will, desire, or intention on our part, but a gift from the spiritual world for which we must prepare ourselves by silencing our desires, emptying ourselves, and presenting ourselves in humility and devotion to the spiritual world. Then we become aware of the reality that the spiritual world is nowhere else but here, all around us; and if we dissolve the sense of being skin-bound, we can become open to it, reflect its images in our astral bodies, and then learn to read them by identification. Steiner describes this complex, subtle, existential and living process, in which ultimately we can become one with the universe, in a masterful way from which anyone who meditates, or wishes to begin to meditate, will gain a great deal.

The second lecture cycle, “How to Achieve Existence in the World of Ideas,” deepens the themes developed in the first cycle, so that the two together provide a useful guide to the processes underlying meditation or learning to know the spiritual world. At the same time, because work was just beginning on the building that would become the Goetheanum, Steiner connects the esoteric principles of its design with the overall theme of the suprasensory human being in relation to meditation and spiritual knowing.

The volume closes with two wonderful lectures in celebration of Christmas. Here Steiner has a threefold emphasis: Christ, supraearthly, glorious, and divine, fully united with humanity and the Earth and born in each human heart. To celebrate Christmas truly means that we recognize all three of these as one in the spiritual world, in the earthly world, and in ourselves. Learn more

The Language of the Consciousness Soul: A Guide to Rudolf Steiner’s “Leading Thoughts”

The impulses of the consciousness soul tend toward isolation and separation if not practiced anthroposophically. This can be seen as a tragedy for humanity. Nevertheless, it is exactly this inner solitude of contemporary human beings that awakens a great longing for community. Anthroposophy needs to be experienced in the stillness of the soul, but it gives rise to community most significantly when, through the cooperation and unified efforts of many, something higher can take shape.
— Rudolf Steiner

In The Language of the Consciousness Soul, Carl Unger unfolds and expands Rudolf Steiner’s “leading thoughts” to help the reader comprehend the deeper meaning behind the words. Unger lets us see how Rudolf Steiner created a mandala-like image of Anthroposophy, revealing an ever-expanding cosmology and epistemology that goes far beyond mere philosophy or a belief system to a practical path of spiritual investigation and knowledge for modern humankind.


Materialism and Spirituality—Life and Death

Materialism and Spirituality— Life and Death Berlin, February 6 , 1917

Rudolf Steiner

Let us turn our thoughts, dear friends, as we continually do, to the guardian spirits of those who are absent from us, taking their place where the great destinies of the time are being fulfilled:

Spirits ever watchful, Guardian of their souls!

May your vibrations waft

To the Earth human beings committed to your charge

Our souls’ petitioning love:

That, united with your power,

Our prayer may helpfully radiate

To the souls it lovingly seeks!


And to the spirits of those who have passed through the gate of death:


Spirits ever watchful, Guardians of their souls!

May your vibrations waft

To human beings of the spheres committed to your charge

Our souls’ petitioning love:

That, united with your power,

Our prayer may helpfully radiate

To the souls it lovingly seeks!


And that Spirit, Who for the healing of the Earth and for her progress,

and for the freedom and salvation of humankind, passed through

the Mystery of Golgotha;

The Spirit whom in our spiritual science we seek,

to whom we would draw near,

May he be at your side in all your difficult tasks!

Let me first express the deep satisfaction I have in being able to be once more in your midst. I would have come earlier, but for an urgent need, that kept me in Dornach until the work on “The Group” had reached a point at which it could be continued without me. You have often heard me speak of “The Group,” which will stand in the east end of the Goetheanum and presents the Representative of Humanity in relation to ahrimanic forces on the one hand, and on the other to luciferic forces. These days, one needs forethought for the future, and it seemed to me absolutely necessary, considering what may happen, to make that progress with “The Group” before leaving Dornach, which has now been possible. Furthermore, the times are certain to bring home to us with particular intensity the fact that meeting with one another here on the physical plane is not the only thing that sustains and strengthens us in the impulse of spiritual science. Rather, we must be born up through this difficult time of sorrow and trial by coming together in our anthroposophic efforts, even if together only in spirit. And indeed, this very thing is to be the test for our anthroposophic efforts.

Since we were together here previously, we have had to lament the loss from the physical plane of our dear Ms. Motzkus, as well as other dear friends who have left the physical plane because of the current terrible events. It is especially painful to see Ms. Motzkus no longer among the friends who have shared our anthroposophic efforts here for so many years. She had been 1 These meditations were repeated at the beginning of each lecture in the series. Materialism and Spirituality—Life and Death 3 a member of our movement since its beginning. From the first day, from the first meeting of a very small circle, she always showed the deepest and most heartfelt devotion to our movement and participated intimately and earnestly in all the phases it went through, in all its times of trial and testing. Above all, through the events and changes through which we had to pass, she preserved an invincible loyalty to the movement in the deepest sense of the word—loyalty through which she set an example to all those who would wish to be worthy members of the anthroposophic movement. Thus, with our gaze we follow this beloved and pure soul into the spiritual worlds to which she has ascended, still feeling toward her the bond of trust and confidence that has grown stronger and deeper over the years, knowing that our own souls are linked with hers forever. . . . Read more


A New Understanding of the Christmas Festival: Rudolf Steiner December 26, 1921

ChristmasFestival.jpeg

Instinctive feelings for the most holy and sacred things have after all, been preserved throughout the course of history. Many of these feelings and perceptions have weakened, but to those who are willing to look with unprejudiced eyes, the old meaning is still discernible. And so we can read something from the fact that at midnight between the 24th and 25th of December the midnight Mass is said in every Christian Church. We can read something from this fact when we know that the Mass is nothing less than a synthesis of the rites and rituals of the Mysteries which led to initiation, to the beholding of the sun at midnight. This institution of the midnight Mass at Christmas is an echo of the initiation which enabled the candidate at the midnight hour, to see the sun at the other side of the earth and therewith to behold the universe as a spiritual universe, to hear the cosmic word resounding through the cosmos, and revealing, through the courses and constellations of the stars, the being of the universe.

Blood sets human beings at variance with one another. Blood fetters to the early and material that element in us which descend from heavenly heights. In our century, especially, human beings have gravely sinned against the essence of Christianity, turning back to the ties of blood. But they must find the way to the Being who was Christ Jesus, who does not address himself to the blood but who poured out His blood and gave it to the earth. Christ Jesus is the Being who speaks to the soul and to the spirit, who does not separate but unites, so that peace may come about upon earth, out of our understanding of the cosmic Word.

A new understanding of the Christmas festival through supersensible knowledge can transform the material universe into spirit before the eyes of the soul, transform it in such a way that the sun at midnight becomes visible and is known in its spiritual nature. Such knowledge brings understanding of the super-earthly Christ being, the Sun being who was united with the man Jesus of Nazareth. It can bring understanding, too, of the unifying peace that should hover over the peoples of the earth. The being of God is revealed in the heights, and through this revelation peace rings forth from the heights to “men of good will.”

Such is the word of Christmas. Peace on earth flows into unison with the divine light that is streaming toward the earth. We need something more than a remembrance of the day of the birth of Jesus. We need to understand and realize that a new Christmas festival must arise, that a new festival of birth must lead on from the present into the immediate future. A new Christ impulse must be born which recognizes the nature of Christ. We need a new understanding of the truth that the divine-spiritual heavens and the physical world of earth are linked to one another and that the Mystery of Golgotha is the most significant expression of this union. We must understand once again why it is that at the midnight hour of Christmas we are resounding called up on to be mindful of our divine-spiritual origin, to unite in our thoughts the revelation of the heavens with peace on earth.

Rudolf Steiner Basle 12/26/1921

Christmas Mood Meditation

As if freed from enchantment, I feel

The spirit child in the soul’s womb,

In the brightness of the heart

The holy Word of Worlds has produced

Hope’s heavenly fruit,

Which, from the divine ground of my being,

Grows rejoicing into the farthest worlds.


Rudolf Steiner

Calendar of the Soul, Week 38




Winter Solstice Meditations

Breathing the Spirit

Breathing the Spirit

Winter Solstice Meditations

by Rudolf Steiner

Earth blocks the sun,

forces of vision compel

from earth’s elements

liberated sight.

Christmas 1922



See the sun

at deep midnight

use stones to build

in the lifeless ground.

So find in decline

and in death’s night

creation’s new beginning

morning’s fresh force.


Let the heights reveal

divine word of gods;

the depths sustain and nurture

the stronghold of peace.

Living in darkness

engender a sun;

weaving in substance

see spirit’s bliss.


Berlin, December 17, 1906

A Christmas Address by Rudolf Steiner to the Children of the First Waldorf School

Address at the Christmas Assembly,
December 21, 1919

Rudolf Steiner

 

Dear children!

Several weeks ago, when we all came to this school for the first time, I visited you more often. Then there were a few weeks when I had to be quite far away from here, but each morning when I got up and went to work, I wondered, “What are my dear Waldorf children and their teachers doing now?” This thought came to me often during the day. And now, in the festive Christmas season, I have had the privilege of being able to visit you again. I went into all your classes and asked many of you, “Do you love your teachers?” [“Yes!” shout the children.] And you see, you answered me warmly, just like that. And then I said to you, “That is an especially nice Christmas gift for me!”

And it is a nice Christmas gift for me. You see, dear children, I have to think about how you have been spending your days since Herr Molt gave us the gift of this Waldorf School. After resting from evening until morning in the divine spirit that watches over your souls from the time you go to sleep until the time you wake up, and after you have washed and dressed and gotten all ready, you come up here to this beautiful schoolhouse. And I believe that many of you, maybe even all of you, look forward to everything that will be here for you in this beautiful schoolhouse. [“Yes!” shout the children.]

Dear children, you have reason to look forward to it. You see, while I was away from you I thought of you often, and in my thoughts I wondered, “What are my dear Waldorf children doing?” And I also said to myself, “They will be doing just fine, because they have nice capable teachers, and these nice capable teachers approach them with real love and are working very hard so that something good will come of the children.” And then I had to think of how you look forward to coming up here and of the love you show for your teachers. These teachers have to work long and hard to be able to teach you all the good and beautiful things that will make good and capable people out of you.

And you know, my dear children, I was especially pleased when I was in the classes and some children would come in playing the part of Ruprecht [Ruprecht: in the European tradition, the Moorish helper of St. Nicholas, who carries a black sack and administers symbolic punishments to children who have been bad during the past year.] or of little angels, and they sang and talked about the child Jesus, about the holy Christ Child. It was beautiful and grand that you could speak about the Christ with such love, and that you could listen with such love.

And do you know where your teachers get all the strength and ability they need so that they can teach you to grow up to be good and capable people? They get it from the Christ, whom we think about at Christmas. We think about how He came into the world to bring joy to all people, and you gave some beautiful presentations about Him today.

You see, my dear children, there are beings on earth that are not like human beings — for example, the animals around us — and we might often think that we should envy these animals. You can look up and see the birds flying, and perhaps then you might say, “Oh, if only we could fly, too! Then we would be able to soar into the air.” We human beings cannot fly like the birds because we have no wings. However, dear children, we can fly into the element of the spiritual, and we have two wings to fly there. The wing on the left is called “hard work,” and the other wing on the right is called “paying attention.” We cannot see them, but these two wings — hard work and paying attention — make it possible for us to fly into life and become people who are really ready for life. If we work hard and pay attention as children, and if we have teachers that are as good and capable as yours, then what makes us fit for life will come to us, and on the wings of hard work and paying attention we will be able to fly into life, where the love of our teachers carries us.

You know, you can sometimes think that there are things that are more fun than learning. But that is not really true; there is no greater joy than learning. You see, when you enjoy something that lets you be inattentive and does not make you work hard, then the joy is over immediately. You enjoy it, and then the joy is gone. But when you enjoy what you can learn, when you are flying on the wings of hard work and paying attention, then my dear children, something stays behind in your souls. (Later on you will know what the soul is.) Something stays in your soul, and you can enjoy that over and over again. When we have learned something good and proper, it comes back again and again; we enjoy it again and again with a joy that never stops. But the other fun things, the ones that come only from inattentiveness and laziness, they come to an end.

You see, because many of you — all of you, I would like to believe — want to work hard and pay attention to what your nice teachers are giving you, I was so glad to see your love for your teachers streaming out of your eyes when I saw you again. And so that you do not forget it, I would like to ask you again, “Don't you all sincerely love your teachers?” [“Yes, we do!” shout the children.] Now, that is what you should always say. That is what you should always feel, and then the spirit whose earthly life and birth we remember at Christmas time, the Christ spirit, will take joy in you.

Now, my dear children, when you have felt your teachers' love all day long up here, then you can go home again and tell your parents about what you have learned, and your parents will be glad and say to themselves, “Well, our children are going to grow up to be good and capable people.”

Make sure to write that in your souls, for now is a good time to do that. When we think of the great festival that reminds us that the Christ entered our world to bring comfort and joy to all human beings who turn their hearts and souls toward Him, then we can also inscribe in our souls the intention to become good human beings. Because the power of Christ is helping you, you will become what you write in your souls today, what you seriously intend to become. And when I come again and see that you have made even more progress, when I come again and see that you can once again show me that you have taken love for your teachers into your hearts and kept it there, then I will again be very glad. My warmest Christmas wish for you today is that this love will grow ever more perfect in you, and that you may continue to unfold the left wing of the human soul, which is hard work, and the right wing, which is paying attention.

And now that I have spoken to the children, let me still say a few words to those who have accompanied them here. What I just said to the children flows from a deeply satisfied heart, because I really have received the most beautiful Christmas greeting from them. When I came into the school, what wafted toward me was something I would like to call the good spirit of this school. It was the really good spirit, the good and unifying spirit, that brings teachers and children together here.

You see, in these days a Christmas mood was resting on all the serious teaching that was taking place, and it was deeply satisfying to perceive this Christmas mood, into which the revelation of Christ speaks, if I may put it like that, in all the corridors and especially in the classrooms. This was no mere supplement to the regular lessons. You could feel that our faculty managed to warm and enlighten everything that was being presented to the children's souls and hearts and understanding with the real, true spirit of Christ. Here, in accordance with the wishes of the divine spirit, we do not speak the name of Christ after every sentence — for “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain!” — but it is nonetheless true that this spirit of Christ is with us in all our individual subjects and in every teaching activity. This is something that can readily be felt, especially at this time of year. Perhaps you too have been able to feel it in what came to meet you out of this Christmas assembly.

And finally, to conclude my Christmas greeting, I would like to appeal to the children whom you have sent here. I hope their progress pleases you.

Children, when you enter these rooms with the other boys and girls, recall that you are meant to love each other warmly, to love each and every other one. If love prevails among you, you will thrive under the car e of your teachers, and your parents at home will have no concerns and will have loving thoughts of how you are spending your time here.

There is something we may say today, ladies and gentlemen, which should resound, as the spirit of this school, from every word and glance the children bring home to you who have sent them here, as an echo of what is meant to permeate all of our human journeying on earth since the mystery of Golgotha took place, to permeate all human work and activity, and especially all activity in which the spirit has work to do. May the words that ring in our souls today weave through everything that human beings do out of self-understanding, weave like a warming breath of air or beam of sunlight:

The revelation of the divine from heavenly heights,
And peace to human beings on earth who are of good Will
!
                                  [Luke 2:14.]

Our great ideal is to cultivate this good will in the children of the Waldorf School. Our concern must be to find the governance of the spirit of the world in our work, in everything we do. May the Christmas message, “The revelation of the spirit of God from the heavenly heights, and peace to human beings on earth who are of good will,” trickle down into all the work of the Waldorf School as well. May the school's working strength be governed by brotherly love and by the peace that inspires and supports all work! That, dear ladies and gentlemen, is my Christmas greeting to you today.