Saturday, December 15, 2007


The lattice of coincidence has allowed the media a unique moment to ponder two heterodox theologies, those of the Republican candidate for his party's presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, a professed Mormon, and those of Karlheinz Stockhausen, whose religious idiolect has a mixture of sources, from the Cologne-style Catholicism of his childhood -- a tradition which has persistent pre-Christian elements -- to the outer-space theogony of The Urantia Book, with a special attachment to the star Sirius.

Interestingly, both theologies have some common elements, with god-like existence beyond this plane promised to believers, a strong (if somewhat generic and decidely pre-feminist) eternal mother figure, and -- in common with a number of traditions, an antagonist angel with the name of Lucifer. The Mormon Lucifer attracted some controversy when a competitor of Mr Romney pointed out that LDS theology considered Lucifer to be the younger brother of Jesus. The press rapidly took up Romney's dismissal of this point, and the competitor, Mr Huckabee, apologized, although his remarks did, indeed, appear to restate the Mormon viewpoint (see here, for an official statement). Mormon theology is heterodox from a consensus shared by most Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches on a number of issues, ranging from orginal sin to the nature of Christ and mankind in relationship to God, and in particular to the topic of slavation and heaven, so that when Mr Romney identifies Jesus as "the savior of mankind", he is not identifying a personal savior (which is unnecessary, in the absence of original sin), and speaking of a very different kind of salvation, in which all those sealed by the church (including those sealed in memoriam) will go as Gods themselves to heaven, and like God and the Great Mother continue to be fruitful and multiply.

Mr Stockhausen's theology, and in particular that expressed in the seven-day opera cycle, Licht, largely adopts the figure of Lucifer from The Urantia Book, but adds a number of characteristics, in particular a tendency towards clowning or tricksterism, not found in the rather humourless Urantia Book, but widespread among other faiths and fictions. It's probably still to early to attempt a sober analysis of the theology behind the Licht cycle, and, indeed, it may not prove to be a consistant one or one that even coincides with much precision to Stockhausen's own faith (the same can be said for Wagner and the Ring), but it is striking that, as an artwork with theogenic elements, the one great lacuna is, in fact, a deity. Indeed, given that the overwhelming narrative and textual substance of the work is a kind of free association extended rap around the composer's autobiography, it is hard to escape the conclusion that in the universe of Licht, the relationship between the composer and a creator God is largely one of identity.

Addendum: A description of Stockhausen's funeral is to be found here.


Anonymous said...

Stockhausen was a composer, not a religious leader. We're not supposed to expect a coherent religion from him.

Anonymous said...

Hello Daniel,

Forays into cyberspace often lead to quite unexpected places, such as your interesting piece on Karlheinz Stockhausen.
As a long time student of the Urantia Papers myself, it's difficult to say precisely what they meant to KS. The emblem on his website incorporates the three concentric azure blue circles, revealed in the Papers as the material emblem of the Paradise Trinity and the banner of Michael, the Creator Son, the same being apparently depicted in Stockhausen's Licht. In my experience, those who openly display the circles, even blended with the cross as Stockhausen does, usually manifest much more than a cursory interest in the Fifth Epochal Revelation.

One's personal faith should come to reflect one's highest and most real understanding of life. When an artist portrays in his work singular characters from a religious tome— in this particular, The Urantia Book— and colors his creativity to the extent that Stockhausen did, one might assume he has done so with deliberate intent to influence his audience in particular ways. But how closely those "ways" adhere to the cosmology of the Urantia Revelation is not at all clear for anyone lacking first-hand experience with Karlheinz, or of his Licht, as I do; so I speculate about his faith.

That said, in the interest of pondering the "heterodox theologies" you mention, it is worth noting some critical differences between the Lucifer of Mormonism, and the Lucifer of the Urantia Papers. Most importantly, (and something Stockhausen no doubt understood), the Lucifer of Urantia was a lesser son, created by Michael; not a mere "spirit brother" of equal stature with Michael before God, i.e., the Christ of Mormonism. Mormonism understands Lucifer is an angel, even a "leader," (of sorts) but commits a devastating error in elevating him far above his humble station as the chief executive of a thousand inhabited worlds of time and space; worlds created by Michael— of Nebadon— our "local universe."

Michael of Nebadon was, and is, God incarnate in Jesus Christ of Urantia. He is ". . .the personification of the 611,121st original concept of infinite identity of simultaneous origin in the Universal Father and the Eternal Son." He is not, as Mormonism and much of Christianity believes, a member of the Paradise Trinity. Nevertheless, in his realm he possesses all of the divine attributes and powers that the Eternal Son (the actual Second Person of the Paradise Trinity) himself would manifest, were he actually to be present and functioning in Nebadon. Michael possesses even additional power and authority, for he not only personifies the Eternal Son, but also fully represents— actually embodies— the personality presence of the Universal Father to and in this local universe. As it is said: The Father and He are one.

Contrarily, "Lucifer was a brilliant primary Lanonandek Son . . . designated as one of the one hundred most able and brilliant personalities in more than seven hundred thousand of his kind. From such a magnificent beginning, through evil and error, he embraced sin and now is numbered as one of three System Sovereigns in Nebadon who have succumbed to the urge of self and surrendered to the sophistry of spurious personal liberty— rejection of universe allegiance and disregard of fraternal obligations, blindness to cosmic relationships."

Cosmic relationships of spirit beings involve creatures of every imaginable presence and power; the sin of Lucifer was his denial of the ultimate power in the universe— even after the power of truth made it apparent to him.

Michael is the maker, upholder, and savior of a vast and far-flung universe. Because personality is absolutely unique, each person stands before God on a personal basis, to accept or reject the gift of eternal life, and in that sense every conscious creature of will dignity stands in need of salvation.

It can never be "too early" to discover the "sober" truth of the cosmology and the revelatory content of the Urantia Revelation. It's inculcation into the mind of man can only bring about an ever newer and greater revelation of God to man. But the challenge to all men, in this age and any other, is to achieve better communication with the divine Monitor that dwells within the human mind. Regardless of how much or how little the Urantia Papers cosmology is accurately reflected in his work, Karlheinz was about that better communication; I cannot say the same for Romney, or even Huckabee. All creativity comes from the Spirit within, and inner creativity contributes to the ennoblement of character through personality integration and subsequent selfhood unification. But it remains the task of each individual whether that creativity is spontaneous and wholly haphazard, or controlled, directed, and constructive.

It's not at all clear what you meant by "identity" in your conclusion about Stockhausen's relationship with God. In our human system, it is the personality which unifies all activities and in turn, imparts the qualities of identity and creativity to us. Identifying with the infinite fragment of God which indwells us is, after all, an eternal quest; what we might accomplish here in this life is but the miniscule beginnings of our relationship.

All of our concepts of reality are based on the assumption of the actuality of human personality; all concepts of superhuman realities are based on the experience of the human personality with and in the cosmic realities of certain associated spiritual entities and divine personalities. Everything nonspiritual in our human experience, excepting personality, is a means to an end. And every true relationship of mortal man with other persons— human or divine— is an end in itself. And such fellowship with the personality of Deity is the eternal goal of universe ascension.

In closing let me say that when you read the Urantia Papers sufficiently, your concept of humor can become greatly expanded, up to and including a sense of cosmic joy based on the recognition of divine truth in a thousand and one things hurled at us in the chaos of Urantia, a world of such wild extremes, and even wilder possibilities.

BTW: The star "Sirius" has absolutely nothing to do with The Urantia Book.

Thank God we live in interesting times!


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