e g r e g o r e s

"Graciously bestow upon all men felicity, the summit of which is the knowledge of the Gods." [Julian, Oration to the Mother of the Gods]

>Peter Kingsley: A New Age Christian Hiding Under an Ancient Philosopher’s Cloak

>Peter Kingsley is in most ways fairly typical of the modern wannabe guru type. His “teachings” are nothing more than warmed-over garden-variety late 19th century Christian Esotericism with a little pseudo-Sufism and a dash of Nietzsche thrown in. However, his scholarly pretensions do, somewhat, distinguish Peter Kingsley from the likes of Eckhart Tolle & Co.

But Kingsley himself claims to be first and foremost a “mystic”, and a scholar only secondarily. And he makes it clear that he has nothing but contempt for the entirety of the Western tradition of Classical scholarship, which he paranoiacly accuses of a “long tradition of altering the ancient Greek texts themselves to make them say what people have wanted them to say.” (See his interviews linked to below.)

In fact, everything that Kingsley has to say is very easily summarized: “true” Western Civilization springs forth fully formed from the minds of Parmenides and Empedocles. But then, no sooner had it started, but just as suddenly Western Civilization was fiendishly betrayed by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and other effete, degenerate “rationalists”. Fortunately, and at long last, “we” can today reconnect with the long lost “roots” of “our culture” thanks to the miraculous Advent of the mind of Peter Kingsley.

Kingsley’s breathtakingly megalomaniacal message is delivered with a straight face, usually seated (he dislikes podiums), and in measured tones by a soft spoken academic who writes books packed with footnotes. It’s quite an act. And it has so far been very successful as these things go.

Who are Kingsley’s fans and admirers? Let’s look at the three interviews with Kingsley that he provides links to at his website. First there is a joint interview by Lorraine Kisly and Christopher Bamford. Kisly’s own publications include a guidebook to the Lord’s Prayer and at least two books that include the phrase “Christian Teachings” in the title. Christopher Bamford is one of the world’s leading “Anthroposophists”, an especially loopy and generally reactionary version of Christian Esotericism dating back to the 19th century.

These two good Christians, Kisly and Bamford, grovel before Kingsley, whose writings they praise as “gripping, urgent, unique, pioneering, courageous, original, challenging, learned, and enthralling.”

The next, equally fawning, interview is by Jeff Munnis, who early in life felt a calling to the ministry, but opted for a career in Horticulture instead. But then he later relented and “recognized that his interest in the ministry had never really left him.” He has since completed a Masters of Divinity is now a candidate for ordination in the United Church of Christ.

In the Munnis interview, Kingsley makes the ludicrous claim (repeated in the Lorimer interview below) that nearly all of Greek philsophy after Socrates amounts to a “charade right down to the present day.” A charade that only the amazing Peter Kingsley has been able to see through. Ta da!

Finally there is a perfectly awful interview by David Lorimer. Lorimer is probably best known for his book Radical Prince, a 250+ page encomium praising that great modern philosopher, humanitarian, social visionary and spiritual thought-leader, Prince Charles. This book, by the way, is published by SteinerBooks, of which Christopher Bamford is Editor In Chief. It really is a small world, after all.

Lorimer begins his interview by breathlessly asking Kingsley “what first guided” him to “the fact that Plato had distorted … the essence of Parmenides’ teaching?” To which Kingsley answers: “Intuition.”


But wait, there’s more. If one goes to the “testimonials” for Kingsley’s most recent book, Reality, the first of these is by none other than Eckhart Tolle himself, while the second is by the Grand Old Man of soft-core, sanitized, Christianized Perennialism, Huston Smith. The first “testimonial” for Kingsley’s 1999 book, In the Dark Places of Wisdom, is by Margaret Starbird, author of The Feminine Face of Christianity, while the very next “testimonial” comes from Jacob Needleman, author of Lost Christianity.

But doesn’t the above mostly amount to an argument based on “guilt by association”? That may be. But for Pagans who are interested in genuinely reconnecting with the spiritual traditions that Christianity has spent the last 17 centuries trying to extirpate, including the spiritual tradition of Philosophy, it is important to know just who and what Peter Kingsley really is.

4 responses to “>Peter Kingsley: A New Age Christian Hiding Under an Ancient Philosopher’s Cloak

  1. Apuleius Platonicus June 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    >Kingsley has chosen, and has openly declared his decision, to devote himself to disparaging one of the greatest spiritual traditions in human history, that of Pythagoras, Socrates and Plato. And he has also chosen to make common cause with Muslims, Christians, and New Age blowhards. And on top of all that he is a toady of the Idiot Prince Charles.And on top of all that, he is an über-guru wannabe and a megalomaniac of the first degree who claims to have uncovered a conspiracy that has held the human psyche in its thrall for two millennia. Now it would be one thing if he were to claim that about the totalitarian ideologies of Christianity and Islam, which actually have held a significant portion of the human psyche in chains for about two millennia, give or take. But to claim this about Plato? While playing footsie with the Monotheists? This cannot be explained either by mere insanity or moral depravity alone, but only by a combination of both in excessive quantities.Otherwise I do not have any strong feelings about that subject.

  2. Greg June 2, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    >Your commentary is profoundly misguided. That some thinkers with a Christian background admire Kingsley's work is hardly surprising in a culture that is still largely "christian." Your critique is so thin, so shallow, that it hardly deserves a response. Is Adyashanti a "closet Christian"? Pir Inayat Khan? Jacob Needleman? I suggest that you read Reality, but that would require concentration, elasticity of mind, courage, and deep reflection. I doubt that is your "cup of tea."

  3. Apuleius Platonicus February 17, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    >It really is sad how many of the people who have actually read a little Plato often know less about him than those who have read none!

  4. SiegfriedGoodfellow February 12, 2010 at 4:25 am

    >Right — it's incredible how Christianity has managed to throw such a cloak over what is obvious, obvious, obvious. Most think of "philosophy" as some brain puzzle esoterica having nothing to do with anything, when the fact is that Plato alone represents an incredible flowering of the spiritual wisdom of the pagan religions! It's incredible to me that anyone can pick up for 6 bucks the best of Plato's writing in a small anthology, and have in one's hands the flower of the religiosity of ancient times, and yet most people don't bother, and even people who do bother to read either do so in a cursory way, or flatten it out into pure secularity.

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