An Alien Nation New Agers are winning the battle for Australia’s soul
A recent article in the Australian Financial Review about the phenomenal growth of an unscientific healing mode “Therapeutic Touch” among nurses and health professionals in the United States claimed that — despite a carefully executed study which disproved its efficacy and a clear public criticism of its continued use — the method was widely defended, and is still growing. At one point the writer mentions that the historical roots of therapeutic touch lie in theosophy. (Theosophy, founded in 1875 by Madame Blavatsky, derives from Hinduism, and claims special insight into the divine nature through intuition, or through revelation from masters or avatars.)
I have to say that this reference brought a little smile of recognition since, after years of researching the New Age Movement in the 1980s I found that theosophy most succinctly encapsulates the New Age religious syncretism. One could almost say that theosophy has undergone a name change as part of its propaganda push.
Therapeutic touch, touch for health, reiki, rebirthing, shamanism, biofeedback — and scores of other healing techniques — have now become so mainstream that one barely raises a questioning eyebrow when they are mentioned. The “lunatic fringe” or “hippie weirdo” ideas have met in an apathetic middle ground where there no longer exists the “other”, or the distinctiveness of our western tradition.
In fact, the whole phenomenon is rarely any longer the subject of feature articles in newspapers and magazines. That kind of “wow, look what people are getting into now” angle has virtually disappeared as we embrace, almost unwittingly, the subtle perversions of our traditional values and beliefs.
In the years since New Age research was my consuming passion, much has changed. The New Age concept has embedded itself more effectively in our culture, becoming even a defining aspect of it, and in the process so inveigling its way into our subconscious as to seem perfectly harmless and benign. I say much has changed in the past two decades, only in the sense that the unfamiliar has become all too familiar, and the sense of fear or threat from that which was once utterly foreign has left us; but in another sense, very little has changed.
The bombardment of New Age teaching through books, films, TV shows, music, and visiting gurus just keeps rolling on. Subtlety is not required, since the voice of protest or resistance has not so much been silenced as never heard. There is no need today to fear offending Western sensibilities — something which struck me recently when The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend magazine ran a three-page feature on the 12-yearly Hindu Maha Kumbh Mela festival, a pilgrimage which brought 32 million Hindus to the Ganges-Yamuna confluence to bathe in the so-called holy waters. The article featured large photographs of naked, ash-smeared, dread-locked men wearing expressions of which a kind interpretation would be lacking composure. (Pilgrims’ Progress was the neat headline.)
As Christians, we live in a society which is permeated by expressions of other religions as well as our own form of secular humanism. This is the norm. We are the aliens in their midst. The primary concern of those researchers and writers of the ‘80s and early ‘90s was that people should be aware of the huge paradigm shift taking place in our thinking and values, and alerted to the transformation we were/are undergoing to mould us into a world culture and a New World Order. Now this concern has been addressed, and we are inundated with warnings, what is left for us to focus on?
There are a few strands which I want to tease out a little, in an attempt to make some sense of where we stand, and how we might respond. I know from personal experience that many believers are greatly concerned about friends or family members who are hooked on New Age teaching or therapies.
Firstly a comment which may be superfluous for AP readers, but one which became imperative in my talks on New Age healing practices. Alternative therapies are not inherently or necessarily evil, dangerous, or sinister! There is no arbitrary line which can be drawn between allopathic and alternative medicine, relegating one as good and safe and the other as dangerous or suspect. Conservative western medicine has much of benefit, but is by no means the conclusive answer to all our ills. There are gaps, inadequacies, some of which are filled by a more wholistic approach.
My personal position on this is to consult only the alternative practitioner who also has medical qualifications and, where New Age or alternative methods are concerned, to check their origins and underlying belief systems.
While researching the practice of reiki, for example, I had a long discussion with a reiki teacher in which she persuaded me that I (too) could readily learn and practise reiki — it mattered nought what I believed or what my previous experience was. The energies were simply out there, and available to anyone interested to learn to manipulate and direct. It hasn’t been difficult for me to reject reiki!
That clarification aside, I’m concerned that as a church we need to understand better what we don’t believe and why, and we need to open our minds a little more as to the real agenda in all this New Age transformation. As our Western cultural distinctiveness disintegrates into the global mono-culture, and as our Christian sanctity is polluted by the pervasive popular culture enfolding us, we need to become more vigilant than ever about maintaining our Christian separateness. We may even need to reclaim some lost ground in this arena.
Because New Age ideology promotes all that is good and positive and beneficial to mankind and to the planet, it is often difficult firstly to distinguish where we might disagree, then cast ourselves in the unpopular role of dissenter or resister. When the efficacy or benefits of a certain practice — for example the therapeutic touch referred to at the beginning of this article — are being promoted, it takes a brave soul to question its suitability or appropriateness. After all, we’re up against a logic that says “if it makes you feel better it must work, if it works it must be good, if it is good its authenticity is above question”.
And this is the difficulty we face with all New Age teaching — how to contradict that which is always presented in a warm harmonious glow of peace and goodwill. Wholism, interconnectedness, peace, harmony, respect for the natural world, inner wisdom, unity, brotherly love — how can we dispute these concepts? Not only do we need to know what we don’t believe, we need to develop a kind of biblical loathing of God’s enemy and his attempts to delude and deceive mankind with a counterfeit of the true rescue operation by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Something which struck me over and over again as I read the works of theosophists Alice Bailey and Madame Blavatsky — famous humanist writers, and more overtly New Age writers from a range of disciplines — was how explicit they were prepared to be about their plans for our lives. They want to destroy our traditional values and beliefs, kill our religious convictions, and then through the various processes of transformation remake us into malleable world citizens who have long since lost the ability for independent thought.
In the New Age religious fusion we see the embodiment of all and every false religion, as well as the universal acknowledgment of the ancient wisdom, the secret knowledge, the gnosis, of every cult and priest-craft that man has devised, namely that man is divine, man is God.
In our highly computerized and interconnected global community, with its collective consciousness well and truly raised and ready to accept without distinction the real and the virtual, trained and prepared by countless screen versions of apocalyptic and awesome rescue scenarios, how gullible will we be when the final showdown unfolds before us?
I find it very easy to believe that an enormous process of preparation is taking place among the inhabitants of this planet, and that the core of all this spiritual preparation and resonance is to facilitate the worship of God’s enemy.
We need to inform and arm ourselves in every possible way to detect the strategies of the devil, and to recognise the signs that point to an already visible world order in which the first casualty will be Truth himself.