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Concerns about New Age Trends
By Sue Lisowski

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling strike a nerve with young people because the books address the need in humans to seek things that are magical. As Father Peter Gillquist told his listeners at our 2nd Annual Forum on Orthodoxy in October, any child who has ever felt rejection from society or family would easily identify with the main character. It’s another Cinderella story: Harry Potter discovers he isn’t the loser everyone tells him he is. Instead, he discovers he has cool wizard powers. He becomes the star of his wizard school, envied by all. It’s also is a ‘good versus evil’ story, with Harry repeatedly triumphing over wizards who use their power for sinister purposes.

We can take comfort in the fact that the Harry Potter books are works of fiction and our children can’t run away to join the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, we should educate ourselves about the New Age world, which does in fact exist today. New Age influence poses a real danger of seducing our children into dabbling with occult practices.

When we are young, we are enchanted by the world. Everything is magical, and the world seems to revolve around us. By the time we reach adulthood, however, we have become disenchanted. The wonder of the world around us is replaced by cynicism. At this point, many people find themselves asking, "Is this all there is?" or "What is the meaning of life?" They are trying to find the magic again.

It’s trendy to be spiritual nowadays, but not so cool to be a Chistian. Shirley MacLaine and Kenny Loggins are both New Age believers. John Travolta is a Scienologist. Richard Gere is an active supporter of the Dalai Lama. Madonna has become involved in studying the mystical Jewish Kabbalah. Celebrities openly embrace Eastern spiritual practices such as Yoga and Feng Shui (arranging of furniture in such a way as to facilitate the flow of positive energy through a room).

People today are seeking mysticism, sacredness, a sense of ancient tradition, and especially, relief from stress. But at the same time, many are intimidated and distrustful of mainstream religion. It seems today that a middle ground of sorts is being found in New Age religion.

New Age is an umbrella term that encompasses a huge range of spiritual philosophies, ranging from something as seemingly innocent as a self-improvement seminar to all-out paganism and witchcraft.

Occult practices that were once taboo in public conversations are now freely discussed and commonly accepted:

We have all heard of reincarnation, past-life regression and psychic healing.

In addition, Christian terminology is being adopted and twisted by New-Agers to lend legitimacy to their claims. For instance, one of the goals of New Age religion is what they call "Christ-consciousness." To a New-Ager, this means you understand that everything is divine, including people, and if you could just be aware of your own divinity, you can be your own Savior.

Atonement is another Christian term that has been hijacked to fit a New Age idea. New Age "at-one-ment" means that God is everywhere, is all things. All things are one with each other and with God; therefore we are all God. The only thing being reincarnated around here is some old heresies.

We should be aware of the possibility that New Age thought is insinuating itself into education and the corporate world. We can’t have prayer in schools, but meditation, affirmation and relaxation exercises are permitted. There is also a concept called value-neutral education, in which any mention of morals is to be removed from curriculums. New Age beliefs may be creeping into corporate training seminars as well. The self-help and psychology sections of bookstores are crowded with New Age books.

One of Oprah Winfrey’s favorite guests is Gary Zukav, author of "Seat of the Soul." His books are cross-referenced in the library as New Age. And we all know, when Oprah likes a book, it becomes a best seller. The feminist movement today is often associated with Goddess worship, Paganism and Wicca, or so-called White Witchcraft.

I am not calling all of these trends outwardly evil. But I do believe that many New Age ideas point in a dangerously subtle way to the world of the occult. It would be wise of us as Christians to educate ourselves about New Age thought and to realize how it is becoming part of our culture. And when we see our family or friends becoming interested in something like tarot cards, we can use it as an opportunity to show them the deception of the occult, and witness to the truth of our Christian beliefs.

Some aspects of New Age practices seem to be put forth as a sort of substitute for tenets of the Christian faith. Look at these comparisons between New Age religion and Orthodox Christianity. Use it as a guide to help bring back the lost sheep.? see page 6

Some aspects of New Age practices seem to be put forth as a sort of substitute for tenets of the Christian faith. Look at these comparisons between New Age religion and Orthodox Christianity. Use it as a guide to help bring back the lost sheep.

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