Perspectives on the New Age

Perspectives on the New Age

Perspectives on the New Age

Perspectives on the New Age

Synopsis

This book begins with a comprehensive historical section that places the New Age within the context of its predecessor movements. It then focuses on specialized aspects of this subculture, from essays on the convergence of New Age spirituality with women's spirituality, to an essay on how Evangelical Christians have responded to the movement. The book also examines the international impact of the New Age."

Excerpt

For the better part of this century, nonmainstream religions did not attract much in the way of sustained public attention. This situation changed with the "cult" controversies of the 1970s. As important as those controversies were, however, the public's focus on highly structured groups like the Unification Church and the Hare Krishna Movement during that decade tended to obscure a far more significant development, namely the emergence -- in the wake of the sixties counterculture -- of a large-scale, decentralized religious subculture that drew its principal inspiration from sources outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition. While this subculture was in many respects a continuation of a preexisting occult-metaphysical tradition, the addition to its ranks of a sizable number of former counterculturists in the postsixties period meant that metaphysical religion was no longer a marginal phenomenon: by the eighties, it had become an integral part of a new, truly pluralistic "mainstream."

In North America, the single most important event prompting general awareness of this subculture was the airing of the televised version ofShirley MacLaine Out on a Limb in January of 1987. The success of this TV miniseries stimulated the mass media to begin investigating and, in time, to begin generating articles and programs about what came to be called the "New Age" movement. The media's interest was still high at the time of the Harmonic Convergence gatherings in 1987, causing the Convergence to attract more public attention than any New Age event before or since.

The widespread interest in the New Age, which was intensified by curiosity about the Harmonic Convergence, led, in turn, to the Time feature, New Age Harmonies, in December of 1987. This piece was the most significant general article on the movement to appear in a major news magazine. Like many previous treatments in the mainstream media, "New Age Harmonies" focused on the flashier, less substantive aspects of the movement. However, perhaps because of the greater weight of Time magazine, this article, unlike earlier, similar pieces, influenced many of the more serious individuals within the New . . .

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