Thursday, 25 September 2008
SEDONA, AZ; NEW AGE BABYLON
What Branson, Mo is to country music, Sedona, Az is to the new age movement. The physical environment is spectacularly beautiful and the emotional ambiance almost equals it. Goodwill, peace and optimism are in the air. Everyone seems agreed: a good thing is happening here!
I settled myself more or less downtown in a tire store parking lot. (closed sat nite and all day Sunday–perfect. Weekends are especially easy for stealthy campers)
Met a beautiful lady in a bookstore and ended up spending the afternoon and part of the night with her in a conversational marathon. Later, I’ll do an essay on this remarkable exchange because something important is illustrated.
Downtown Sunday I engaged all sorts of people on all sorts of subjects. Talked real estate with a speculator.(house prices range from 1 to 2 million–but are now down 25%) Talked new age doctrine with a shopkeeper, art with a gallery owner. Especially enjoyed the statues scattered around town–the best municipal offering I’ve ever seen. (if only Diana were here to take a decent picture of them) The statue of Sacajewea roused me to lust.
Sedona became a new age Mecca in a self-reinforcing spiral of popularity like Branson.
Here in Summary is what New Age religion is about: It is a mixture of numerous religious and philosophical ideas–an emotional response to inadequacies of secular culture and discontent with traditional religion. (Happily) It has no holy text, central organization, membership, formal clergy, dogma or creed. It’s a free-flowing spiritual movement–a network of believers and practitioners sharing somewhat similar beliefs and practices. It does not threaten our liberty like Christianity does.
Especially in turbulent times, people head for two extremes: fundamentalism and personal spiritual experiences. New agers tend to cluster around metaphysical book stores and spiritual teachers. Here’s some relevant statistics:
8% of Americans believe in Astrology
7% believe crystals help healing
9% believe tarot cards are a reliable base for life decisions.
25% believe in a non-traditional concept of God
3% believe that each person IS God
20% of religious believers are new agers–the third largest religious group
As you can see–we’re talking millions of people. They are nicer than Bible thumpers and represent a counterbalance to them. They will help save us from theocracy.
Here are some of their core beliefs:
Monism: All that exist is derived from a single source of divine energy.
Pantheism: All that exist is God. (so seek God within yourself)
Panentheism: All that exist is God but He also transcends the cosmos
Reincarnation: rebirth after death in a series of lives
Karma: What goes ‘round comes ‘round. Cosmic balance of action and consequence
Aura: A field of force emanating from our body
Personal transformation through certain practices–eventually planet wide transformation.
Special Spiritual places–energy vortexes etc.
Universal religion: like many paths up one mountain
New World order working against disease, hunger, poverty, pollution
And here is what they do:
Channeling: evoking dead people
Meditation–various types of “sit down and shut up”
Divination: foretelling the future
Holistic health practices
Human Potential movement–Seminars etc
In summary, New Age religion is Hinduism with a twist of lime. Of all the religious people these are the most nearly harmless. Since they have no authoritative text, they do not inhibit the natural evolution of ethics. They have a childlike belief in what amount to magic, but they have made real contributions to human well being through practices like meditation, holistic health and through assorted human potential practices. They live and let live–they evolve–I like em!