Friday, January 06, 2006

The "New Age"


We have extensively studied the current "new age" movement. Although we realize that many traditional religious people have strong feelings of bigotry against the "new age," and that much of the "new age" is simple nonsense, we have also found much of true value in it. The people involved, if not after only money and fame, tend to be truly spiritual,
sincere, and open-minded types.

They are very interested in "experimental spirituality," and have proved themselves open to mysticism, to which many traditional faiths are closed. This is due, not to the philosophies of those religions, or worldviews, but usually, to only ignorance. They are not "anti-mystical." They simply have not a clue as to what "mysticism" is!

We have many "new age" friends. Jesus and his disciples spoke of the "end of the age" in Matthew 24:3, showing that early Christianity was itself a kind of "new age" movement in its own time. (In this verse, the notorious phrase used is "end of the world," but that mistranslates the Greek noun aion, "age," as "world. The real Greek word for "world" is kosmos.) So, the disciples were really asking about "the end of the age," not "the end of the world."

So, we are open to discussion, exploration, and the various paths of the "new age" spiritual community. It has much of real value to offer. But we are not open to the gullibility that marks some "new-agers." For example, we have found no genuinely compelling objective reason to believe in "channeling." People can and do get in touch with the Unconscious, and often, provide valuable data and useful advice. But this is not at all the same as "channeling" angels, dead people, or extraterrestrials. Channeling is a fad, and people are abusing it to get rich, and to develop unhealthy cult-followings. (We are consistently anti-cultic.)

We also do not accept new-age fads re nutrition and healing. We are different from new-agers generally because we must see some scientific or medical evidence before we accept an idea. Many are gullible, and desperate to believe anything! This is spiritually unhealthy, as it does not support a "stand on your own two feet" independence. And that which resists independence tends to support unhealthy dependency. This is similar to overdependence on gurus, pastors, priests, dogmas, institutions, cults, etc. It is, in a word, unwise; it is also unhealthy. For personal freedom is a foundational principle of real spirituality.

So, the "new age" is a mixed bag. Try to explore it openly, without fear. Remain openminded, but avoid gullibility. Do not accept every concept that comes along, without criticism or any doubts. (This will send you straight into gullibility.) On the other extreme, do not deny anything simply because our physical sciences (primitive) cannot prove it. Strive to be moderate, believing neither everything, nor nothing. Always use reason, and reasonable verification, to evaluate any claim. For example, just because a person says that she is "channeling" a superior entity does not make it so!

If a person claims to have special knowledge, test her to determine whether she is telling the truth, or is selfdeluded. If she claims to know the past, ask her, "What did I have for breakfast?" If she claims to know the future, ask her, "What will I be doing tomorrow morning at ten o'clock?" If she claims to know what is happening in distant places, ask her, "What is my wife doing right now?" In short, use simple and practical questions to which you can find real answers. Do not ask, for example, "What kind of life did I have in Atlantis?" for anyone can say anything; and no one can either prove or disprove anything.

If an "extraterrestrial" is being "channeled," ask basic questions about physics, astronomy, or chemistry. If another kind of extradimensional is being "channeled," ask a technical question about cytology (cell-processes), etc. Most "channelers" could not likely answer a question taken from basic high-school chemistry. So, they have no credibility.

The "new age" movement is a fascinating field for exploration. But, in examining it, you must use some common sense and much "reality-testing." Similarly, when reading, look for genuinely new or original concepts. Avoid books that only recycle platitudes, or that take ten pages to say a single sentence. Avoid meandering and unfocused writing, as it is a way of avoiding or evading clarity.

Spirituality should be practical and useful. It should also reflect clarity of thought, and not be hesitant or "fuzzy." It should not meander. So-called "spirituality" that is about extraterrestrials, extradimensionals, planes, lost civilizations, and similar abstract issues can be interesting, but are practically useless.

Some systems even emphasize "Love." These might seem rich, and safe. But if "Love" is not applied to real-life situations, if it is too abstract, it is nothing but a buzz-word. Hypocrites, fools, and frauds have spoken of "Love" for centuries, but have not brought a microparticle of enlightenment to our poor little planet.

So, examine widely and wisely. Use discernment, discrimination, wisdom, reason, and common sense as your yardsticks. Seek evidence; and remember, the more outlandish the claim, the more evidence you need to demand in order to buy into it!

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