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Issue 19

Arts and Letters

The Orb Gang

Proclamation on Sinai: Covenant and Commandments

Valentin Tomberg
Angelico Press, pp. 180, $17.95

Lazarus: the Miracle of Resurrection in World History

Valentin Tomberg
Angelico Press, pp. 254, $19.95

Thy Kingdom Come: the New Evolution of the Good

Valentin Tomberg
Angelico Press, pp. 104, $14.95

Valentin Tomberg and the Ecclesia Universalis: a Biography

Harrie Salman
Angelico Press, pp. 268, $19.95


During the presidential primary season in 2020, I created a Twitter handle with the name “Kabbalah Harris.” For the next few months, I played a semi-private game of deep exegesis on the statements of the spiritual wellness author and Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson. The tropes I favored were from Lurianic Kabbalah, but I also made liberal use of Russian Sophiology and late antique hermeticism. And, of course, good old-fashioned nineteenth-century American paranormal spiritualism. That is how I found myself caught up into the third digital paradeisos of the meme-loving supporters of Marianne Williamson. The “OrbGang,” as we called ourselves, doubled down on the caricature of Marianne as a New Age guru who probably uses a crystal ball. We decided to reappropriate the crystal ball in all its arcane orbitular glory.

Without ever entirely ceasing to enact a private joke, I developed a real fondness for Marianne’s quixotic blend of political and spiritual admonition. Even more importantly, my contempt deepened for those who insist that politics is an unimaginative, pragmatic process. Perhaps this was not the most helpful for Marianne’s long-shot campaign (forgive us, Orb Queen) but it was the sheer weirdness opened up by the moment which caught and held my attention. What struck me is that, for the most part, American political discourse on religion and politics tends to focus on the interests of evangelical and Catholic moral and cultural causes or on the formal legal structures of American-style “religious freedom.” But as I continued to interact with the sorts of people drawn to Marianne Williamson and reflect on just what constitutes “normal belief” for Americans, something seemed to be missing that typical political conversations simply did not address.

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About the author

Andrew Kuiper