Owen Barfield says; "We shall not be able to save souls unless we also save the appearances".
The "appearances" are the objects of this earthly world, which include our own earthly selves. It is therefore not enough just to "combat" earthly concerns with spiritual concepts of other-worldliness. If our soul is to be saved, these objects must also be saved. Why? Because our bodies are currently one of those objects, and if this fact is ignored, and we assume we can be saved without our bodies also being saved, then we are merely escaping our humanity instead of seeking real redemption.
Steiner stressed the need to see evil as being twofold: Lucifer and Ahriman are the two extremes on either side. To ignore the world, or replace it with "higher things" is what Steiner would call the Luciferic tendency in spirituality. An example of the Ahrimanic tendency being materialism with its concept of the human being as mere biological machine.
Christ is the middle way, the balancing of the two polar extremes. He is neither the Ahrimanic materialism of the "this-worldly" nor the escapism to the "higher-worldly" of Lucifer. Hence we can see that the human ego treads between these two extremes, and in the middle is the point at which Christ touches the world. To either reduce the earth-bound ego to material processes, or to escape it completely in spiritual heights, are literally un-Christian paths.
Amo's post addresses some crucial points regarding our conceptualizations of the material and the spiritual. On the one hand, we have the materialist rejection of spiritual reality in favor of an understanding of the world as only-world. On the other hand, we have the spiritual rejection of material reality in favor of the world as only-spirit. As Amo points out in his post, both of these positions are not only fundamentally wrong, they are also fundamentally un-Christian.
I think this is crucial to bear in mind within the process of system distancing. Though it is a spiritual imperative, system distancing should not be viewed as a mode of escape via an outright rejection of the material world in order to pursue higher spiritual things. Instead, it should be motivated by the desire to redeem the material via the spiritual, which can only be achieved after one has distanced oneself from the System's corrupting and limiting conceptualization of the material world as an un-spirited, accidental, and meaningless arrangement of stuff within which only the System itself has legitimacy or meaning.
The System's blatant dismissal of the supernatural is an open conspiracy to deny the reality of God and creation. This rejection of creation relegates the material to the level of meaningless, accidental stuff. Everything becomes objectified. More significantly, the System's official mantra degrades human existence to its purely purposeless biological function.
Overall, the System is intentionally calibrated to oppose all notions of "saving the appearances." Within such a fundamentally purposeless paradigm, the only appearance the System strives to maintain is itself and its Ahrimanic role of purporting to actively control and manage the accidental and meaningless stuff of the material world in order to ensure the comfort and security of human existence.*
This conceptualization of reality, this opposition to "saving the appearances", is what system distancing boils down to. Furthermore, this freedom from the System and its opposition to creation opens up the opportunity to be free for God and creation. Nevertheless, being free for God entails not falling into conventional and misguided snares of regarding the material within creation as purely corrupting.
Though I frequently refer to the primacy of the spiritual on this blog, I am not among those who view the relationship between the material and the spiritual as a pure dichotomy. More specifically, I do not believe the material and the spiritual represent two distinct and separate parts that are locked in a state of intrinsic, diametrical, and perpetual opposition.
This idea of the physical and the spiritual as contrasting forces stems from a misguided religious understanding of the material world as something that is irretrievably fallen, sinful, limiting, corrupting, and inferior; as something that must be overcome and vanquished in order to give rise to the sinless, limitless, and superior world of the spirit may reign triumphant.
These bifurcated conceptualizations of the material versus spiritual permeate a great deal of Christian thinking. Within these lines of religious thinking, the natural world is regarded as an obstacle, as a lower level of existence that must be rejected in order for the higher, spiritual world to flourish. Put another way, the material world of objects must be conquered in order for the spiritual world of subjects to be free.
Though these beliefs contain some elements of truth, they do not order or interpret these elements of truth properly. This, in turn, leads to the creation of a dichotomous either/or framework that elevates the supernatural at the expense of the natural.
The problem with this misguided spiritual approach is obvious. The denigration of the natural world is a de facto denigration of humanity, creation, and humanity's spiritual purpose and role within material creation - to say nothing of the Christian belief in bodily resurrection.
Once again, when I refer to the primacy of the spiritual, it is not in reference to a dichotomy that defines the natural and supernatural opposites locked within an either/or framework, but rather something more akin to the understanding that the natural and the supernatural exist in a dynamic relationship based on the harmonizing force of "and".
The primacy of the spiritual in mortal life is not about choosing between the two perceived polar extremes of material and spiritual; it is, as Amo states above, the balancing and harmonizing of the "only-this-worldly" with the "only-the-otherworldly", as exemplified by Christ.
Through this balancing and harmonizing, the object is recognized for what it truly is - a subject. Once this reality is affirmed, relationships between subjects become possible and appearances can be saved.
* Dr. Bruce Charlton has recently suggested that the Ahrimanic model of totalitarianism may be tipping or may have already tipped into the Sorathic realm of destructive chaos. Something worth considering.