Thursday, 3 March 2016

New Age spiritual people - sordid shenanigans are not a good advert for their beliefs

Before I became a Christian, there was a period of about a decade when I was very interested in what might be termed New Age spirituality - I was one who could describe himself as Spiritual but not Religious.

I don't reject this tradition in toto, nor deny that there is value in it; and indeed a vital implicit message for Christians which is that alienation is probably the main disaffection of the modern world. Christians would do well to address this more up-front and focally - since it is a more acute form of angst nowadays than, for example, the consciousness of sin.

But for all my interest, I never joined any New Age group or organization, and the reason was that I found the individuals involved to be off-putting. Indeed, among the scores of authors I encountered -set aside cnsumers, there were barely a handful I found tolerable as persons or whose lifestyle seemed admirable (in so far as I could discover this): they were and are not an impressive bunch (at least, not to me).

This was confirmed by two visits to Glastonbury spaced out over six years - this town being the centre of all that is New Age spirituality in Britain; and a place that has had more hyperbolic praise for its special and wonderful atmosphere than perhaps anywhere else.

(Glastonbury is, indeed, one of the most significant places in the history of Britain and indeed the world - and I think, believing the legends as I do! - perhaps a place Christ visited as a young man with Joseph of Arimathea before commencing his ministry, and probably the site of the first Christian church outside the Holy Land.)

However --- I found Glastonbury as it is now at best underwhelming; but in fact mostly somewhat unpleasant - with a seedy, fake and slightly sinister feel about it; and (with a few exceptions) a much higher than usual head count of apparently damaged, emotionally-desparate or exploitative people.

This contrasts with my experience of (real, not liberal) Christians, where (without going over the top about it) there are located some very decent and trust-worthy people, the general atmosphere is considerably more wholesome than average, and there is a fair bit of courage, integrity, beauty and a lot more altruism than I myself am capable of. Something to look up to.

A lot of this boils down to s-e-x (variously extra-marital, promiscuous, unconventional, experimental) - I strongly suspect that the usual, mainstream secular and materialist motivation of sex is powerfully at work on or just below the surface of New Age spirituality - and there are very few who are exempt. This means that whatever spirituality is on-the-go is - in practice - put into a subordinate place; and the spiritual side really doesn't work as the primary motivator.

It would be going too far - but not much too far - to suggest that New Age spirituality in real life (as opposed to in theory) seems to operate like a gigantic rationalization for aspirational sordid shenanigans!