New Age Denial of the Fall

Response to the Fall, not New Age denial.

Response to the Fall – not New Age denial. Madonna and Child by Franz von Defregger

Living with family at the moment in this Spanish town, filled with New Age oriented folk, means that I am being repeatedly confronted with New Age ideologies. In this world I am experiencing, is a powerful sense of idealising the positive and undermining the negative.

Recently, I heard two people talking, about some very painful issues from the past. They spoke of the loss of children and even abortion. Difficult relationships with family members were also mentioned.

As these things were spoken of, the people´s faces looked pained, distraught and tears welled up in their eyes. Yet nothing of the difficulties, feelings or regret involved was mentioned. No pain was acknowledged. No tears were released.

Instead, a song was sung.

Now one might think that the song would have been a mournful, sorrowful one. But no, it was incredibly upbeat and chirpy.

The lyrics of the song went: “Every cell in my body is happy. Every cell in my body is well!”

As this song was sung, I was poignantly struck by this paradoxical situation. By the seeming inability of these two people to admit to the pains or acknowledge the sufferings, associated with what had been raised. I felt a sense of reality being taken away.

For as this upbeat song was sung, it was claiming that nothing at all was wrong. It seemed to me that the effect of these very real and painful issues on the people’s lives, was being completely denied.

Feeling so uncomfortable witnessing this, I asked why such a song was being sung.

I then challenged the people for their belief in physical perfection in that “Every cell in my body is happy and well.”

For I was thinking about Those far greater than us, for instance the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary who do not feel perfectly happy or well. Their hearts are wracked with pain, as they look upon our sinfulness and suffering.

The response I received was that the song was what was called a “mantra”. Meaning in this case, that if these words were sung and believed, the perception of the situation will change. In other words, all that is unhappy and unwell will disappear. It will no longer be reality.

As I hear often in this predominantly New Age environment, “You create your own reality!”. Therefore, if one believes in this song, that “every cell in one`s body is happy and every cell in one’s body is well!”, it will come true, as one has the power to change reality oneself.

Now, whilst I know that we have the ability to look at situations from different perspectives, I find this idea that we can ´control´reality a dangerous one.

Dangerous, because as I have witnessed, I see this is simply based on the repression of reality or truth. This idea it seems to me, is based on a denial of the suffering inherent in our fallen condition.

As such it is a denial of our sinfulness and limitation. It is an idea very distant from the understanding of our need for salvation. Very distant indeed from a need to kneel in humble prayer and ask of Those far greater than ourselves for mercy and grace.

This to me is very sad indeed, for I see it is denial. A New Age denial that we are limited and fallen and therefore denial that we need God …

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  1. Posted 28 October 2009 at 20:49 | Permalink

    That’s where they lose me too. I do think there’s a lot of power in positive thinking and a good self-image. A person who walks around thinking, “I’m sure to get a job today,” is probably more likely to get a job than someone who constantly thinks, “I’ll never get a job.” (Though personally, I think that has more to do with the body language and actions it creates; not because it spurs a reaction from the Universe.) We do create our realities, in a sense. And for a Catholic, prayer is the ultimate in positive thinking about God’s love and wishes for us. To pray at all shows a positive belief that God answers prayers and wants good things for us.

    But when they take it to the extreme and say you don’t just create your reality in a sense, but absolutely, that’s where they lose me. Let’s face it: even the most positive person will have bad things happen once in a while. What happens when you’ve been saying your daily affirmations and tithing exactly 10% and all the things you’re supposed to do, and it’s been paying off with your life going wonderfully, and suddenly your kid gets cancer? According to New Age, you asked for that cancer. But of course you know you didn’t consciously ask for it, so you have to convince yourself that your spirit asked for it somehow. Then the explanation I usually hear is, “I must have asked for that to come into my life to teach me something.” But that sounds like a more sophisticated form of denial, and it also comes very close to saying that other people are simply tools for use in our personal development, which has obvious dangers.

    I was recently in a conversation where an elderly woman talked about how uncaring and abusive her parents were. She threw out the “I must have needed that to teach myself” line, and maybe she’s really convinced herself of that after many years in New Age. But it also became obvious that she still feels a lot of pain about the way her parents treated her. If she created that situation for herself, and it was all for ultimately good reasons, then why does it still hurt? I suspect that taking responsibility for the painful things that happen to you doesn’t actually make them less painful, but it makes you think they shouldn’t hurt anymore, so you never deal with the pain.

    It just occurred to me that this sounds a little like the abused wife who convinces herself she brings the abuse on herself by not being a good enough wife in some way. That denial may cover up the pain, but it doesn’t deal with it.

    • kim
      Posted 30 October 2009 at 19:35 | Permalink


      Thank you very much for your thought provoking response to my latest blog.

      It is supportive to me, to know of another traditional Catholic engaging with New Age people and therefore being confronted with similar things to me.

      I appreciate very much your insights into the New Age and its’ denial of pain. I suppose at the end of the day, however much people try, however cleverly an argument or thought is developed, it is simply not possible to make evil out to be good.

      We are fallen and therefore evil exists within us. However positive we attempt to be, this fact will not go away.

      As you say Aaron, prayer for a Catholic amounts to the ultimate in positivity – and also indicates our prayer comes from a sincere depth of knowing that we are in need of God’s mercy and grace.

      This lack of humbleness that comes from thinking otherwise in my opinion can lead to incredible arrogance and inflation as one supposedly creates one’s reality, ‘absolutely’ as you put it.

      This, as far as I’m concerned leads to a type of individualism that can only be described as narcissistic. This leads to again as you said, using others simply as tools in our personal development.

      It is undeniable, that we are one human family. We have all been born with the seed of evil within us, in other words, we are one in our fallen predicament and I think that the denial of this not only covers up our pain, but it separates us from the rest of our human family.

  2. Edwin Shendelman
    Posted 31 October 2009 at 13:17 | Permalink

    At the crux of these issues are different perceptions and understandings of spiritual reality. The contrast speaks volumes about what is going on spiritually in the world today.

    In the New Age the emphasis is on self, its healing and development. The reflection is on changing oneself from within.
    In Christianity the emphasis is on redemption through God (in Jesus Christ).
    In New Age one tries to spread a thought through the self (like the mantra you mentioned) to alter one’s feeling and perception.
    In Christianity the emphasis is handing oneself over to God and His redemptive work. It is to share in that work through charity and what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel would call the “prayer of empathy”, lovingly sharing the suffering, life and resurrection, hope and so much more of Our Lord and Lady.
    In New Age one applies a vague sense of spirituality and tries to breathe within that.
    In Christianity one is oriented on all levels to God, the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Mother and the Angels, one breathes and respirates within that orientation with all that might imply.
    In New Age transformation is bottom (self) up with a tip of the hat to the “universe”, one’s “guides” or whatever.
    In Christianity transformation is top (God) down. The self is to be transformed into image of the one beheld (theosis) in Contemplation.

    But…transformation of the self can be accomplished in the Light of the Logos, then the “tree” that New Agers are attempting to climb can be known it its true form. From there one can “pass” to the Tree where the theophanies of God are shining. God is present but thickly veiled in New Age, in Christianity we are presently seeing through the veil but passing to the state of where as St. Paul said we will “see face to Face.”

    • kim
      Posted 10 November 2009 at 17:25 | Permalink

      Edwin, thank you so much for your very thought-provoking ideas in the insightful comparisons you have made between New Age and Christian spirituality.

      Whilst I appreciate and very much agree with your analysis, I wonder if I am differing from you, in that I most definitely find the New Age focus on oneself, in that there is no need to reach out to God, somewhat disturbing. In fact, as I wrote in my last blog, a thought that denies the Fall and is therefore dangerous.

      In fact, I have written my next blog about this theme, responding more to what you have written there. Hopefully it will be ready soon.

  3. Edwin Shendelman
    Posted 13 November 2009 at 02:05 | Permalink

    Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about “New Age” or Alternative spirituality. Having once considered myself New Age but now having emigrated to a more Traditional viewpoint the thing that strikes when talking to New Age people could be summed up with the word “superficiality.” Anyone, doing an in-depth exploration of any of the great Traditions I think would be struck the superficiality of New Age discourse now matter how “spiritual” it would be. It is clear that New Age would extract very selective elements of the esoteric dimension of the great traditions, gathering a little bit from here and there and make a soup from it. A lot if this is unconscious, of course, as esoteric ideas float in spiritual circles without real knowledge of what they are connected to. This is one element. Meditations on the Tarot talks about the Hermetic vocation being one of depth in, say, Christianity or the collective soul of religion, science and art. This is the other shoe. Let us not be afraid of an esotericism, the dimension of depth, that is deeply tied to one of the great Traditions like Christianity. This is why we cannot close the dialogue with those in New Age circles. There can be continuity or a migration from one set of ideas and experiences to another, hopefully in the direction of Truth or what is also called Christianity.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] the dialogue going on at my wife Kim´s weblog, concerning the Denial of the Fall. (That dialogue started here and then continued here). I felt real value there in the comments left by Aaron and Edwin and am […]

  2. […] am grateful for all the rich comments and analysis that my last entry New Age Denial of the Fall has generated and thought I would continue with these themes this time, mainly in response to the […]

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