IO 71: What Ever Happened to the New Age?
You know—the Age of Aquarius, chakras and crystals, Shirley MacLaine’s “going within,” and Marianne Williams, guru to the stars. Well, the stars are coming out, but the New Age is old hat. They were the good ol’ days.
I just signed up for an online forum, Beyond Awakening: The Future of Spiritual Practice. You could say Beyond New Age. Hailed as “the most important conversation for the planet today,” this forum had 25,000 members within a few weeks (proof that I run with the in–crowd)! Actually, it is proof of a veritable armada of intelligent “Creativestural Creatives,” “Progressives,” “Brights,” and “Integral Spiritualists.” These activists, seeing that our world is in crisis, have organized national and international visionary groups. (There are 50 million Cultural Creatives in the USA and 80–90 million in the European Union.)
These spiritualists believe that private New Age spirituality must come out of the closet. Spirituality needs “the big picture” of itself as an integral part of the great evolutionary movement for a sustainable future. The 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution are taken as factual proof that One–ist evolutionary spirituality is also true. Our “sincere care” of the planet, which will guarantee human survival, must be accompanied by evolutionary spirituality, leading to a “non–dual” holistic consciousness (freed from the “dual” notion of the Creator/creature distinction). We need to go both inside and outside, beyond the Post–Modern and the New Age fixation with the self, to create a more glorious future for the Earth.
Buddhist philosopher Ken Wilber, enthusiastically endorsed by Rob Bell and Brian McLaren, sees spirituality in terms of nine stages of evolutionary progress. From stage one (primitive animism), through stage four (the “infantile” mythic, faith of the Bible), humanity must evolve to stages seven through nine (higher mystical non–dual consciousness). He does not seem to realize that stage four is a Two–ist spirituality, which can’t be joined to the One–ist spiritualities along his ladder of progress.
Here evolutionary spirituality and evolutionary science are joined at the hip, a union that makes perfect sense for pagan One–ism (which believes that the earth creates itself), but is odd for biblical Two–ism (which acknowledges a transcendent Creator). Yet some evangelical leaders are joining this unholy alliance, under the influence of, among others, Francis Collins (director of the Human Genome Project and a Christian believer), who accepts Darwinian evolution as a viable Christian position.
The Beyond Awakening forum expresses the partnership between physical and spiritual evolution programmatically: “we must also go beyond awakening, to express those truths in an embodied spirituality that can empower us to co–create a sustainable human future.” Inner spiritual focus is not only inadequate; it has nefarious implications. If the “bright” spiritual people just go within, then, as they say, “the B team” runs the world and the mess only gets worse. We can no longer be silent,” say the spiritualists. Thus “pagan” One–ist spirituality is cleverly proposed as the only path to human survival.
To ensure a glorious future, the “B team” must be denounced, demonized and demoted. Here is where progressive spirituality becomes political. Humanity’s real enemy must be named and dislodged. The “B team” is the global capitalist Empire, controlled by patriarchal heterosexuality and religious “dualism” (Two–ism), led by U.S. militarism and multinational corporations. It has contaminated environments and destroyed indigenous cultures. Our past is toxic (which any believer in original sin knows). Its political and religious defeat will, by the refusal of original sin and by the Gnostic myth of human transformation, usher in a utopian era of social justice and sustainable development, in which diverse indigenous cultures will harmoniously share the earth.
This deeply religious orientation lies just below the surface of the political ideology espoused by those in the movement that brought President Obama to the White House. Though avoiding spiritual terminology, they, too, call themselves “progressives,” have their progressive organizations, and believe their time is now. Their recent conference, America’s Future NOW! proclaimed: “We are the change, we have the power,…for curbing Wall Street, ending corporate influence over politics, fighting for jobs and justice, and building a new, green economy.” British journalist, Melanie Phillips, observes that all these movements “are united…at heart, by the repudiation not only of Western Civilization but of its Judeo–Christian roots.”
What has become of the minor New Age cult? It has morphed into a major political/spiritual blueprint for the planet—“World Purificationism,” as someone appropriately calls it. Progressive politics and progressive spirituality will join forces, because:
- the spiritualists believe the time has come to bring the inner and the outer together, and
- both forces share a “this–worldly” goal, having exchanged the transcendent Father for the survival and worship of Mother Nature.
Christians, beware. Do not mistake this movement for the Kingdom of God.