Southern Cross Review

Review of fiction, education, science, current events,
essays, book reviews, poetry and Anthroposophy

Number 111, March - April 2017

"The Jewish Bride"

One of Rembrandt’s most famous works is the painting known as The Jewish Bride. The painting acquired this name at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but the subject of the picture remains a mystery to this day. Is it an Old Testament couple? Or is it a double portrait of two of Rembrandt’s contemporaries? It could also be a combination of both possibilities—a man and a woman who had themselves immortalized as biblical figures. This is known as a portrait historié, a historicized portrait. If this is the case, most art historians believe that the couple represent Isaac and Rebecca. Another, more neutral explanation is that the man is declaring his love to his wife. In that case the subject of the painting would be the virtue of marriage. As well as the uncertainty as to the subject, we also do not know the year in which Rembrandt painted this work. It is dated to about 1666. Rembrandt applied the paint very roughly in this painting. The paint on the man’s sleeve is so thick that it seems as though Rembrandt used a palette knife to put it on.

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Editor's Page

Death be not proud (or) Life After Eighty by Frank Thomas Smith

When you live to be over eighty years of age, it's no longer possible to avoid thinking seriously about inevitably approaching death. We all know, theoretically, that we will die at some point in time. I say “theoretically” because we don't really believe it until at least the average milestone in life has been reached – around 42 years, unless, of course, serious illness or a life threatening accident has brought the milestone closer. But at “over 80” the message becomes seriously clear. You're lucky if you still have some of your original teeth left; you certainly use eyeglasses or contact lenses, your gait is slow, your reactions dim. It was said, correctly, that Derek Jeter was too old at 39 to keep playing shortstop for the New York Yankees. And he agreed... continue reading

Cuando uno llega a vivir más de ochenta años, ya no puede evitar pensar seriamente  en la muerte que se acerca inexorable. Todos sabemos, en teoría, que hemos de morir en algún momento. Digo “en teoría” porque no lo creemos realmente hasta haber alcanzado  por lo menos el hito promedio de la vida –alrededor de los 42 años, a menos, por supuesto, que alguna grave enfermedad o accidente lo haya adelantado. Pero con “más de ochenta”, el mensaje se vuelve claro en serio. Uno tiene suerte si aún conserva algún diente original; con toda seguridad, usa anteojos o lentes de contacto, su paso es lento, sus reacciones, embotadas... Continuar

The Dance of Shadows in America - Reflections on the Presidential Election of 2016 by Christopher Schaefer

The election is over. Many of us are confused, dismayed and live with the questions of what actually happened? How can we make sense of it and what can we do now? We live in strange times when both presidential candidates had extraordinarily high negative ratings, each being loathed by close to half the population. President Trump is described by many as having some of the ugliest character traits one can imagine. ”A hypersensitivity to criticism, a streak of viciousness, an inability to confess error and a willful ignorance about the issues.” One can easily add other unsavory qualities, that he is a proud and unrepentant liar, a narcissist, an acknowledged tax evader, a racist, misogynist, sexual predator and woeful bigot. Clearly singularly unfit for office and yet now President of the United States...
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Rome and the Romans - Ancient and Modern by Gaither Stewart

Long before the Nibelungen mythology spread in Teutonic lands, legends and semi-legends abounded in the ancient and isolated lands south of the Alps, legends that say a lot about how these peninsular Italic peoples today think and dream. Etymologists explain that the Latin word, legend, deriving from ancient Rome’s spoken Latin language, means ‘things to be read’. Those legends—those things to be read—chronicle human events that lie within the realm of possibility and relate miracles that could happen and therefore are at least partially believed by all. Handed down from generation to generation, legends evolve and transform in the telling and the passing of time. A millennium before the Nibelungen family, Romulus and Remus appeared on the hills that were to become the center of the star-shaped city of Rome... Continue reading

History After the End of History by Andrew J. Bacevich

The fall of the Berlin Wall in October 1989 abruptly ended one historical era and inaugurated another. So, too, did the outcome of last year’s U.S. presidential election. What are we to make of the interval between those two watershed moments? Answering that question is essential to understanding how Donald Trump became president and where his ascendency leaves us. Hardly had this period commenced before observers fell into the habit of referring to it as the “post-Cold War” era. Now that it’s over, a more descriptive name might be in order...
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A Good Rain Knows When to Fall by JP Miller

The bus ride from downtown San Francisco across the Bay Bridge to Oakland was long and choked with diesel fumes. The sudden stops and starts never bothered me much. I must have nodded out at some point. I dreamed that I was still in Karbala, covered with broken off reeds, hiding behind a crumbling wall made of goatshit, straw and dried mud. I was firing my weapon at Hajis, who raised their heads and their AKs like carnival targets at about 200 meters all around us. Klinger was there, spraying them down with the SAW. DC was fumbling, reloading his M-4. Robby had a blank thousand yard stare on his face as he slipped on all the brass piling up around us. Even the XO, Major Mahorn or Horny as we called him, was discharging his 9mm with his right hand over the flimsy wall... Continue reading

Poor Samaritan by Dorothy Day

Every morning at ten o'clock, as I stood at the kitchen sink and finished the breakfast dishes, I could hear him pecking up the street on his wooden leg. I lived in the basement of a remodelled corner house in the East Fifties. From the front windows on First Avenue I could almost see the East River—anyway, I could hear the boat whistles. The apartment ran the length of the house, so that the kitchen at the back and the small garden adjoining it were adjacent to the side street. I called that tiny patch of ground a garden, and so did the real-estate man who leased me the place, but it held little privacy. It was separated from the street only by a high railing, and passersby could almost tell what we were drinking on those afternoons when I entertained my friends out of doors...
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Miryam by Luise Rinser

You call me Mary Magdalene. You should call me by my real name: Miryam. In Aramaic, my mother tongue, Miryam means: the beautiful and also the bitter one. Both apply to me: I was beautiful, and much bitterness was in me from youth on, until I met Yeshua, and new bitterness was allotted me when he was killed. Magdala is the name of my home city. A town in Galilee, a mass of chalk-white stone blocks, so white that they dazzle in the sun and sparkle in the moonlight. A commercial town, a town of strong smells, stench and fragrance combined: the smell of fish from the Sea of Kineret and salt, the fragrance of goods which my father bought and sold: sandalwood, myrrh, balsam, perfumed olive oil, accompanied by the stench of camel dung and donkey urine and the sweat smell of men, the merchants and caravan drivers who came out of the desert. When the north wind blew, it wafted the air in, then for a while the town smelled of desert, and after the snow of the distant Hernon. My hometown. It’s old name came from the fish: Migdal Nunaya, fishburg. The Greeks who lived in the eastern neighboring province, in Decapolis, called it Tarischaia, and this name also has a connection to the fish... Continue reading

Book Review
Judas [The Gospel of Judas] by Amos Oz

Here is a story from the winter days of the end of 1959 and the beginning of 1960. It is a story of error and desire, of unrequited love, and of a religious question that remains unresolved. Some of the buildings still bore the marks of the war that had divided the city a decade earlier. In the background you could hear the distant strains of an a harmonica from behind closed shutters.
The city is Jerusalem, divided into Israeli and Palestinian sectors... Continue reading


Reincarnation and Karma - Lecture Five of five by Rudolf Steiner

For many years past we have been studying anthroposophical truths, details of anthroposophical knowledge, trying to approach them from different sides and to assimilate them. In the course of the lectures now being given, and those yet to come, it will be well to ask ourselves what Anthroposophy should and can give to the people of our time. We know a good deal of the content of Anthroposophy and we can therefore approach the question on a certain basis of understanding. We must above all remember that anthroposophical life, the anthroposophical movement itself, must be clearly distinguished — in our minds at any rate — from any kind of special organisation, from anything to which the name “Society” might be given. The whole character of modern life will of course make it more and more necessary for those who want to cultivate Anthroposophy to unite in a organizational sense; but this is made necessary more by the character of life outside than by the content or attitude of Anthroposophy itself... Continue reading

"Apologia" concerning the publication of the the First Class Lessons: English / Español

Esoteric Lessons for the First Class - Lesson Two in Prague by Rudolf Steiner

The day before yesterday we considered the first part of what can be called the encounter with the Guardian of the Threshold. I said about this encounter that it must be taken with the utmost earnestness. For it should be clear that as long as we are unable to develop the feelings related to what has been disclosed, we will not be able to attain true knowledge. We may think that a certain knowledge about the transition to the spiritual world is attainable without these shattering impressions of self-knowledge. But what we can attain without such impressions is not real knowledge. Everything accessible to us through the senses, as well as what we can achieve by means of normal thinking, can at most supply knowledge of what is outside the human being, but not about the human being as such. For the human being is of a super-sensible nature in his whole being. And what we observe by means of the senses is merely the exterior image of the human being...Continue reading

Karmic Relations, Volume IV, Lecture 5 by Rudolf Steiner

Having spoken so often about the School of Chartres and its great significance for the inner spiritual life of the West, I have received a welcome gift during the last few days: a gift of pictures, some of which have been put up here for you to see. Others will be added next Tuesday. In these pictures you will see what wonderful architectural works and works of sculpture in the mediaeval sense, arose at the place where flourished that spiritual life of which I have now spoken so often. The personalities who were gathered in the School of Chartres still had the impulse, even in the 12th century, to enter as teachers or students into the living spiritual life that had arisen in the turning-point of time — I mean in the epoch of European evolution when humanity, inasmuch as they were seekers after knowledge, still sought it in the living weaving and working of the nature-beings, and not in the conception of empty and abstract natural laws... Continue reading


There's a Shadow 'cross the Nation by Tarjei Straume

There's a shadow 'cross the nation
that's enveloped in a frown.
They've alerted every station
and there's lots of fear in town.

Giant rats are in the attic
and the termites eat the wood.
The status quo is quite dramatic
but it isn't understood.

There are handguns in the closets
and grenades in all the cars
changing hands for cash deposits
in the alleys and the bars... Continue reading.

Where or when by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rogers

It seems we stood and talked like this before
We looked at each other in the same way then
But I can't remember where or when

The clothes you're wearing are the clothes you wore
The smile you are smiling you were smiling then
But I can't remember where or when

Some things that happened for the first time
Seem to be happening again... Continue reading (and hearing).

You can find us under the Southern Cross in the Traslasierra Valley, Province of Córdoba, Argentina. Visitors always welcome. Just follow the sign that reads: La Cruz del Sur.

Frank Thomas Smith, Editor

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