Talking to the New Age Movement Part 7: Growth of the New Age

 

What's missing from the New Age movement

 So far in this series on the New Age movement (first part here) we have been quoting material from 2005 – from a letter I wrote back then to old New Age friends of mine.

But now a little interjection or interlude to this series …

But before this injection, let me reference the following from last time:

“Some … may be astonished that I could have once considered the “holistic” movement so all-encompassing.

At the same time, I doubt they realise how powerful it is in Britain. I visited the largest bookshop in Britain last year, a vast emporium that was by no means a New Age specialist shop. It had thirty gigantic bookshelves dedicated to ‘Mind-Body-Spirit’.

Christianity had four (equally gigantic) ones.

But this ratio of 30:4 helps to account for the sense of holistic triumphalism that can be felt sometimes in the New Age culture – at least in Britain.”

Rather than continue from this point, I now interject something from my upcoming book Cor Jesu Sacratissimum.

In that book, I argue that New Age-ism in trying to be universal, flattens important distinctions instead.

And as a result, it frequently ends up with a minimalistic spirituality of the lowest common denominators that (supposedly) all people can agree on.

And in trying to be tolerant, it often becomes intolerant of traditions (e.g. Catholicism) which go beyond these minimal claims that “everybody can agree on”.

Actually, the word intolerant is not strong enough. For in many cases, under the benign face of smiling tolerance, “warmly open to all traditions”, New Age-ism is frequently viciously dismissive of Christianity and Catholicism in particular.

In any event, here is material from my book which follows on from the account of the vast book emporium with a ratio of 30:4 of New Age to Christian books …

New Age thinking is growing. Now I can still recall first-hand, the comparatively early days of the New Age subculture. Back in 1980, the movement was still relatively invisible.

For example, New Age literature was hardly found in mainstream bookshops, back then! Three decades ago, I lived in a town an hour from London. In those days, it was necessary to visit specialist bookshops around London to find New Age texts. Outside the great metropolis, such books were scarce. No longer!

All of this testifies to a vast shift, which has taken place in the last three decades.

Some Christians – including many liberal Catholics – will argue that it is all fairly harmless and at any rate, one should be encouraged by some sort of religious perspective in the New Age – which is at least preferable to the world’s growing materialism.

The argument is understandable. When I was still a liberal Catholic, I regularly argued the same thing, myself.

For a terrifying materialism stalks our world and one can and should acknowledge that New Agers are often less absorbed by it. They frequently possess a deep sensitivity and noble quality of aspiration, which should not be dismissed. These are precious things.

Still three decades of experience have taught me this. New Age spirituality by and large flattens the Christian Mystery.

So-called “holism” functions as a minimalistic code for reducing Christianity to something far less than it truly is.

And as I began to see such things more clearly, I left behind the more “tolerant” milieu of Liberal Catholicism.

For the heart of Liberal Catholicism is not pierced sufficiently – or so it seems to me. While it is pierced by the social injustice of the world, frequently it is scarcely pierced at all by the tragic negation of Christianity, which the New Age fosters.

And it is scarcely pierced at all by the plight of generations of children to come, who are being robbed of Christianity and offered – at best – New Age reductionism. And at worst, New Age absurdity – along with outright materialism everywhere.

We who are Catholic must take notice, if we are to preserve for future generations the Mystery of His Sacrifice on Golgotha.

For if the New Age to Christian ratio in Britain has reached something like 30:4 in three decades, here is a question, which merits pondering: What might that ratio be in another three decades? 60 to 4? … 60 to 1?!

To be Continued …

From Amazon US:

These can also be found in different sections at our Amazon UK store here. Several of these also have Reviews which can be found here.

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