Both reviews focus mainly on the New Age aspect of the book – which is a significant feature to the book. Still, my big book is about a lot more besides. It also addresses such diverse themes as the Enlightenment, secularism, the tyranny of political correctness, the failure of the post-Vatican II church, the Latin Mass and traditionalism and the struggle for Christendom renewed. There is also much about the French Revolution and the Counter-Revolution that followed it.
The book, then, is really about Counter Revolution and Christendom. But in that context, the ‘New Age Revolution’ is now a major thing that desperately needs to be addressed, desperately …
Both reviewers, see that very clearly. And I am grateful indeed to Joseph Shaw at Rorate Caeli for observing:
The invasion of the Church by New Age fads and practices is something of which readers are probably all too well aware, and this problem has been well examined over the years, notably Fr Mitch Pacwa’s classic Catholics and the New Age, which explains what, from a Catholic point of view, is wrong with horoscopes, enneagrams and so forth.
Roger Buck attempts something more ambitious: an examination of the New Age from the inside. Buck lived in the New Age community at Findhorn in Scotland for three years, and from there established a New Age centre in Cambridge (England) to spread its ideas. His eventual escape from the New Age milieu adds a fascinating autobiographical element to the book, and helps to illustrate what motivates New Age devotees, what outlook they have, and what keeps them there.
I believe this to be of the utmost importance because New Age spirituality is in many ways today the spirituality of the West. Explicitly New Age thinkers, communities, and practices are the most visible manifestation of a world-view which you can find everywhere. In order to find the Faith, educated people in the developed world first need to free themselves from the strange mixture of intellectual superiority and superstition which the New Age provides. The keys needed to unlock this dismal prison are provided by Roger Buck, who wants to introduce those attracted to the New Age not to a purely intellectual religion–the kind of religion which they have rightly rejected–but to the riches and warmth of a genuine Catholic culture, which can be provided by the renewal of Christendom.
Similarly, Francis Philips at the Catholic Herald also focusses on the New Age theme of the book, which is largely concentrated in the book’s first half and which she found the ‘most interesting’:
Buck’s book is subtitled “From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Renewed”. For me, the first part of the book, which describes the author’s deep involvement in New Age spirituality for over two decades (including living at the world-famous Findhorn communityin Scotland for three years), was the most interesting.
He shows how New Age thinking has permeated our culture insidiously, not only from so-called therapies such as reiki, shiatsu, qigong and yoga, but also through widely used phrases, words and concepts such as “self-development”, “self-empowerment”, “channelling”, “astral planes” and “visualisations”.
As Buck observes, New Agers are generally “sensitive, idealistic souls who are frequently appalled by modern materialism”. But New Age spirituality, originating with Madame Blavatsky … is a snare and a delusion, leading the devotee inward, towards “self-realisation”, rather than outward, in self-giving charity towards others. “I saw no saints at Findhorn like Maximilian Kolbe,” observes Buck tellingly.
The second part of the book, concerned with “Christendom and the Catholic mystery”, makes an eloquent plea for Catholics to understand the nature of the spiritual battle in which we are engaged and which he sees the Church (in the West at least) as gradually losing. Buck, as he describes in an eloquent passage, was converted to Christianity in 1997; he and his wife became Catholics in the year 2000. More than most he understands the wasteland of his spiritual life before he discovered the riches of the faith.
Once again, I am very grateful for both reviews highlighting the New Age segments in the book. Still, I want to stress that whilst some readers like Francis Philip may find the first part ‘more interesting’, there is a second half – not devoted to the New Age – that I know appeals to other readers more than the first.
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In other words, I am seeing two types of readers for this book. The first could include all kinds of Catholics, including very liberal ones – indeed it may even include Protestants!
Such folk may like my deconstruction of the New Age, but have difficulty with my critique of ‘the Spirit of Vatican II’, advocacy of the Latin Mass and the restoration of Christendom which dominate the book’s latter half. They may also be less than interested in two Counter Revolutionary thinkers who have inspired the book, namely Valentin Tomberg and Hilaire Belloc.
One the other hand, most traditionalist Catholics will be drawn primarily to the second half of my book and may be impatient with the significant attention devoted to the New Age!
Indeed, I can sympathise with the second type of reader. It is the the second half that is most important to me as well! After so many years in the New Age, I would prefer to read about other things myself.
Give me Belloc, the Latin Mass and the fight for Christendom any day!
Once again, though, not everybody is like that. Indeed, one reader wished I had cut the Vatican II material but provided even more personal anecdotes about Findhorn!
But I would have found it tedious to delve further into Findhorn. And I think many readers of the second type might find it tedious, too.
Yet however tedious traditionalists like myself may find the New Age, I believe we need to educate ourselves about the enormous destruction to the faith on all fronts – including the stealthy ‘New Age Revolution’ taking place.
Now, traditionalists are rightly concerned with a long series of revolutions taking place in the West, beginning with the Reformation and continuing with the French Revolution right up to the revolution at Vatican II and the 1960s cultural and sexual revolution.
The purpose of my book is to consider all those revolutions. Its purpose is not to focus entirely on the New Age.
For this reason, I was particularly happy with the back cover copy provided by Angelico Press.
The Cor Jesu Sacratissimum is the Heart of the World, the beating Heart of the Church, yet that truth becomes ever more obscured in our modern age.
This book’s mission is precisely to disclose and address those obscuring forces: the New Age movement, globalized secular culture born of the Enlightenment, the often-hidden legacy of Protestantism in the Anglo-American world, and, perhaps most baneful of all, the liberal excesses in the Church Herself, unleashed after Vatican II.
I should add that the cover copy was a collaboration between Angelico and myself. However, the short phrase ‘This book’s mission’ was their idea and I was immensely grateful for it!
For this is what I dare to believe – that the book has a mission.
Yes, that mission includes deconstructing the New Age! However, it is also about locating the threat of the New Age within the wider context of liberalism – including the liberalism operating at Vatican II and indeed also the economic liberalism of capitalism (yet another theme that may alienate some readers!)
It might be argued, I suppose, that I should have written two shorter books instead of one.
Had I written a shorter book on the New Age, I might have pleased all kinds of Catholics, even Protestants who are looking out for a useful deconstruction of all things New Age.
And then I could have written a second book about Christendom and the Catholic Mystery.
But my book was not born out of purely rational processes like that. It was born out of prayer, above all the depths of prayer I discovered in the extraordinary cité of Paray-le-Monial in France, meditating in the chapels where St. Margaret Mary Alacoque beheld the Sacred Heart of Jesus and where the relics of St Claude La Colombiere reside …
For me, then, my book is an organic whole with controversial opinions on numerous subjects ranging from the New Age to the Latin Mass to Christendom and Capitalism. The diversity of themes means different readers will react to the very different parts of the book in very different ways.
These are just some thoughts I’d like to share with you, dear Reader – as I ponder the many responses to my book so far (most of them private and not public like the reviews above).
I am very grateful for all responses so far, including a number from my Facebook friends. And, in closing, I would just like to say that if I had to choose two words to sum the book up they would be: Counter Revolution.
We traditionalists need to creatively counter – gently, lovingly, charitably, not violently – all the various liberal revolutions that have decimated Catholic tradition, including the Twenty-First Century New Age liberalism and that liberalism now so tragically rampant in the modern Catholic Church.
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