Thursday, September 6, 2007

What Ever Happened to the New Age Movement?

Does anyone remember this?

"The New Age Movement consists of an incredibly huge and well organized network consisting of thousands of groups, trusts, foundations, clubs, lodges, and religious groups whose goal and purpose is to prepare the world to enter the coming "Age Of Aquarius." " (full article)

Some time ago, many avid Christian watchdogs considered the New Age Movement (NAM) to be the biggest threat to Christianity in America. Many feared that "New Agery" had infiltrated its views into all that seemed innocent and straightforward, from Barney to the Bibles in church pews. I sought out the most extreme example I could find, with little difficulty. The caption under the book Ravaged by the New Age by Texe Marrs, published in 1989, contains the following sensational remarks:
"... a shocking expose of the New Age occultism that is...snatching up our innocent children in its rotten net....It also reveals the hidden plan of New Age leaders to bring our teenagers into hideous bondage through Satan worship and witchcraft. Texe Marrs....thoroughly documents the dangerous, secret messages in kid's TV shows, cartoons, movies, comic books, fantasy games, toys and even coloring books. You'll also discover the demonic designs behind Rock and Roll and the hidden, subliminal messages in Satan's New Age "mood" music".
At the height of Christian hype against the NAM in the late '80s, some Christians had even gone so far as to accuse certain Bible translations of being tainted by New Age language and thus spurred on the oh-so-riveting King James only debate.

But it's been a while since anyone was last caught lambasting the NAM. When did the alarms go silent? And why?

First, in 1991, Saddam Hussein at last revealed himself as the long awaited Antichrist he is (pardon, was) that would rebuild Babylon and initiate Armageddon. Of course, the Antichrist wasn't supposed to die already, but Saddam did invade a tiny oil-rich country which tipped off the new era of war in the middle east and terrorism. Suddenly, the NAM, a.k.a. "Satan's Plan to Destroy Our Kids" (subtitle to Marrs' book), took a seat at the back of the church van. Ken Starr and a blue dress also provided added distraction, but who finally pushed NAM out the back doors of the church van was not-such-a-New Ager named Osama bin Laden.

Second, postmodernism has literally eaten the life out of any NAM conspiracy that Christian watchdogs previously hyped over. I find it interesting that at the height of the NAM-versy, Christians focused so much on the NAM and so little on postmodern thinking, particularly since postmodernism had a heavy hand in New Age acceptance in the 1970's. Now--stick with me here--while the two may have been friends in the past, they're not as close anymore, and postmodernism might just be starting to bite the hand it previously held.

How? While many Christians think the New Age mentality as relativistic, it does have a codifiable set of doctrines and prides itself on principled living. And wherever one of those exists, postmodernism will bleed it out sooner or later.

Last, we live in an age of Halo, American Idol, and dog fighting football stars. We want to win; we want singers that are really good; we want to tsk-tsk what Whoopi says they do there in the South. In particular, our age shows that we may think postmodernly now, but we sure don't live it.

Consider super-rage contests shows such as American Idol and America's Got Talent. They're hot hot hot, and everyone loves to evaluate the poor souls on stage pining for fame and a million dollars. Similar to "The Family" TV show in the book Fahrenheit 451, the audience, everyday Americans, is thrust into the judgment seat. The results? When we are put into the position of judge, we do become remarkably judgmental. So long, practical postmodernism.

Bottom line: aura cleansing and blathering about the astral plane used to be, and still is, activity for whom the majority of Americans find just a little nutty. Even some New Agers themselves admit to a decline in NAM popularity, as evidenced by this quote by a New Age guy named Michael (no other identification found on his website):

"New Age has not traveled to the end of the road yet. It is reaching a stage of maturity in which wheat is being separated from the corn. Yet, it still comprises a broad spectrum of activities from the commercial rip-off to unselfish dedication to serve mankind spiritually. Many do not wish to be associated with the name because it reminds them of the turbulence associated with the uprising of the younger generation in the late sixties and the lamentable drug excrescences [sic]. One may pray that the movement will sustain its original purity and raise high the spirit of new generations, giving it an immense vista of life and a purpose to live for."

Oh, I can't wait.

But why point this out, you may ask. Simply, I wish to send a tidbit reminder that, just like weight loss fads, the New Age Movement is another fad of spiritual expression that has come and is now all but forgotten as many others in the history of mankind. Oh, it may come back, like the Atkins Diet. But did churchgoers in America deserve the Christian freak out it received over the NAM? Maybe not so much.

Let me put it this way. Hardly a day goes by that we aren't losing sleep over what "New Age Bible translations" are doing to our kids, right?


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