The New Christianity, or, The Religion of the New Age
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Then Spangler, Los Angeles publisher Jeremy Tarcher, and the editors of several leading New Age periodicals announced that although they still adhered to the goals of personal transformation, they no longer believed in the coming New Age. Although its vision of massive social transformation died, the movement attracted hundreds of thousands of new adherents to one branch or other of the Western esoteric-metaphysical tradition.
More than one-fifth of adults in the West give credence to astrology; an equal number have practiced some form of meditation. Three to five million Americans identified themselves as New Agers or as accepting the beliefs and practices of the New Age movement in the late s. The continuing presence of New Age thought in the post-New Age era is evident in the number of New Age bookstores, periodicals, and organizations that continued to be found in nearly every urban centre.
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- ‘New Age’ beliefs common among both religious and nonreligious Americans!
Our editors will review what you've submitted, and if it meets our criteria, we'll add it to the article. Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed. Written By: J. Gordon Melton. See Article History. Facts Matter. Start Your Free Trial Today. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Scholars and New Age enthusiasts alike are accused of both these kinds of abuse. In Native American communities the exchange of knowledge, like any other exchange, is meant to be reciprocated.
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A growing number of anthropologists know this and do their best to honour it, but many…. Gnosticism , any of various related philosophical and religious movements prominent in the Greco-Roman world in the early Christian era, particularly the 2nd century. The designation gnosticism is a term of modern scholarship. It was first used by the English poet and philosopher of religion Henry More —87 , who applied it to…. History at your fingertips.
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From New Age to Eternity: My Journey Back to Christianity
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Alternative therapies have gained enormously in popularity because they claim to look at the whole person and are about healing rather than curing. Holistic health, as it is known, concentrates on the important role that the mind plays in physical healing. The connection between the spiritual and the physical aspects of the person is said to be in the immune system or the Indian chakra system. In a New Age perspective, illness and suffering come from working against nature; when one is in tune with nature, one can expect a much healthier life, and even material prosperity; for some New Age healers, there should actually be no need for us to die.
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Developing our human potential will put us in touch with our inner divinity, and with those parts of our selves which have been alienated and suppressed. This is revealed above all in Altered States of Consciousness ASCs , which are induced either by drugs or by various mind-expanding techniques, particularly in the context of "transpersonal psychology". The shaman is often seen as the specialist of altered states of consciousness, one who is able to mediate between the transpersonal realms of spirits and gods and the world of humans.
‘New Age’ beliefs common among both religious and nonreligious Americans
There is a remarkable variety of approaches for promoting holistic health, some derived from ancient cultural traditions, whether religious or esoteric, others connected with the psychological theories developed in Esalen during the years Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, kinesiology, homeopathy, iridology, massage and various kinds of "bodywork" such as orgonomy, Feldenkrais, reflexology, Rolfing, polarity massage, therapeutic touch etc.
Inasmuch as health includes a prolongation of life, New Age offers an Eastern formula in Western terms. Originally, reincarnation was a part of Hindu cyclical thought, based on the atman or divine kernel of personality later the concept of jiva , which moved from body to body in a cycle of suffering samsara , determined by the law of karma, linked to behaviour in past lives.
Hope lies in the possibility of being born into a better state, or ultimately in liberation from the need to be reborn. What is different in most Buddhist traditions is that what wanders from body to body is not a soul, but a continuum of consciousness.
Present life is embedded in a potentially endless cosmic process which includes even the gods. In the West, since the time of Lessing, reincarnation has been understood far more optimistically as a process of learning and progressive individual fulfilment. Spiritualism, theosophy, anthroposophy and New Age all see reincarnation as participation in cosmic evolution. This post-Christian approach to eschatology is said to answer the unresolved questions of theodicy and dispenses with the notion of hell.
When the soul is separated from the body individuals can look back on their whole life up to that point, and when the soul is united to its new body there is a preview of its coming phase of life.
People have access to their former lives through dreams and meditation techniques. One of the central concerns of the New Age movement is the search for "wholeness". There is encouragement to overcome all forms of "dualism", as such divisions are an unhealthy product of a less enlightened past. Divisions which New Age proponents claim need to be overcome include the real difference between Creator and creation, the real distinction between man and nature, or spirit and matter, which are all considered wrongly as forms of dualism. These dualistic tendencies are often assumed to be ultimately based on the Judaeo-Christian roots of western civilisation, while it would be more accurate to link them to gnosticism, in particular to Manichaeism.
The scientific revolution and the spirit of modern rationalism are blamed particularly for the tendency to fragmentation, which treats organic wholes as mechanisms that can be reduced to their smallest components and then explained in terms of the latter, and the tendency to reduce spirit to matter, so that spiritual reality - including the soul - becomes merely a contingent "epiphenomenon" of essentially material processes. In all of these areas, the New Age alternatives are called "holistic".
Holism pervades the New Age movement, from its concern with holistic health to its quest for unitive consciousness, and from ecological awareness to the idea of global "networking". The fundamental principles of New Age thinking. A global response in a time of crisis. The surge in popularity of Asian religion at this point was something new in the Western context, established late in the nineteenth century in the theosophical movement, and it "reflects the growing awareness of a global spirituality, incorporating all existing religious traditions".
The perennial philosophical question of the one and the many has its modern and contemporary form in the temptation to overcome not only undue division, but even real difference and distinction, and the most common expression of this is holism, an essential ingredient in New Age and one of the principal signs of the times in the last quarter of the twentieth century. An extraordinary amount of energy has gone into the effort to overcome the division into compartments characteristic of mechanistic ideology, but this has led to the sense of obligation to submit to a global network which assumes quasi-transcendental authority.
Its clearest implications are a process of conscious transformation and the development of ecology.