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The New Age marches on

So far as I can tell, the “rising tide of religious fundamentalism,” at least in the West, is really the “rapid dissolution of religion as a social presence.” That dissolution leads to occasional complaints from people who aren’t totally on board with the new program, as well as horrified outbursts from radical secularists who are shocked when they find that the new program has not yet gone to completion. Hence the stories about religion in the news.

More evidence for that view is provided by a recent Gallup survey that notes that since 1999 the number of Americans saying they have “no religious tradition” has increased 5 percentage points, they’re “spiritual but not religious” has increased 10 percentage points, and they’re part of a “Christian religious tradition” has declined 6 percentage points. In spite (or because of) the increased interest in free-form spirituality, the percentage of those who affirm that “the spiritual health of the nation is important” has declined 14 percentage points since 2002.

Spirituality nonetheless has serious implications today, at least in some connections. A medical technician told me the other day that she’s had female patients diagnosed with breast cancer who’ve decided to treat themselves with herbs and such, and it’s said that “I’m not a religious person, but I’m a very spiritual person” is a very effective pick-up line that practically guarantees action. And even organized dogmatic religion still has its function, as demonstrated by Barack Obama’s church, which stands foursquare for the “Black Value System” of promoting the interests of blacks.

All such jibes aside, the basic function of all these movements is to support and reconcile people to a technocratic order. New Age spirituality doesn’t say anything and can’t resist anything. It is truly an opiate of the people. And the bottom line for the United Church of Christ, of which Obama’s church is part, is soft-and-fuzzy leftism. The managerial state is Providence and as a practical matter God. So far as I can tell, the same is true of all mainstream religion today. Otherwise, why would Dr. Schori make the Millennium Development Goals the organizing principle of her religion?

More detailed information on the Gallup survey is available here.

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At the risk of being classified as a fundamentalist it would behoove us to remember that when man doesn’t worship God he worships demons.
This fuzzy, free-form spirituality is not harmless but leads people away from Christ.

It’s not a long jump from cafeteria-style Christianity to a more generalized, undiscriminating cafeteria spirituality. Once all “options” are open, the options seem to proliferate.

We could read these new spiritualities as the attempted spiritual validation of an ethereal, atmospheric sentiment of non-discrimination, grounded in the sands of “sincerity” and “feeling.”

We find therefore that this kind of sentiment repels at “organized religion,” or just religion in general, because the latter suggests all sorts of discriminations in judgment and thought that are unacceptable (actually, any discriminations are unacceptable in this line), and any sort of distinction or discrimination is immoral (these people are highly moralistic), however true, and in any case distinctions create conflict and any type of conflict is abhorrent. Thus, we get the mantra “It’s all one” (which may touch the truth in a certain theological sense), but is invoked to merge all distinctions and hierarchies into an undifferentiated mass, which negates any possible conflict.

This move to subjective and objective undifferentiation is one way to get rid of the substance of the Self, and any real or imagined conflicts within the Self, or between the Self and the world, or between the Self and God.

This is approaching the lower rungs of human personhood and anthropology; it’s a long way from this stuff to the human dignity of human personhood as found in Christianity.

Eugene Rose classified these developments, which he more or less foretold, as a species of Nihilism. He called this kind of stuff, “vitalism,” its psychological purpose to explain and mobilize an otherwise fatalist , passive, emasculated psyche. The flip side of this emasculated psyche is outbursts of meaningless violence, about which no one cares.

The relation of the emergence of this emasculated psyche to the rise of the “technocratic society” is a big question.

This isn’t the first time you’ve referenced Schori’s “millennial development goals,” and I’ve read at least some of them over and over.

This latest excerpt could have issued out the office of public relations of Vespasian or Trajan—it’s Roman imperial syncretism. The world waits to be healed by Rev. Schori, and to receive her word from the imperial center.

How this relates to the “technocratic order” is another question.

A “technocratic order” is a public order based on a comprehensively technological view of things. The goal of the order is the conversion of the whole of social life into a technically-rational arrangement for the maximum satisfaction of human preferences.

If the order is a liberal one then all persons and preferences count as much as possible the same. That seems to me the most rational approach since if satisfaction of the preferences of persons is the standard, it makes sense to treat all preferences of all persons equally since they are all equally preferences of persons.

The reduction of religion to social welfare with special emphasis under present circumstances on the MDGs seems a natural move for an ecclesiastical organization that thinks of itself as basically an established church or at least as the church of the social and political establishment, if that organization should find itself in a technocratic order. Hence the dominance in the Episcopal Church of views like those of Dr. Schori.

One feature of a liberal technocratic order is that the principle of maximum equal preference satisfaction gives authority to subjectivity as such while abolishing all authority within subjectivity. Hence New Age spirituality. All our states of mind are holy, and all are equally so.

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

Rem tene, verba sequentur.