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New Age Spiritualities: Harmonizing the Diversity Research Paper

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Introduction

For a long time in human history, organized religions have put a lot of emphasis on the forms of worship and discipline on their followers. Lack of a room for questioning has lead to what can be described as blind following.

Most of the worshippers do not understand the essence of what is being worshipped (Wuthnow, 2004, p. 160).people`s religious or spiritual code of beliefs and the evidenced rites are observable reflection of the personal true or perceived right faith. The result of this is the emergence of a sectarian perception (Walker 2007, p. 219.

This kind of thinking poses a great danger of religious violence and sectarian wars. It is becoming essentially vital for all the faiths to be reconciled top reduce the variance in the religious views across the globe. Despite the justification for the different faiths, human living in harmony with one another is an essential path that all beings would like to pursue. The major challenge though is how to harmonize the diversity.

Religion

Religion has and continues to play a crucial role as far as human development and civilization is concerned (Clark, 2006, p. 443).

The exists differences in dimensions in human spirituality and other aspects such as the metaphysical speculative line of thought, the practice of the rituals and rites, the modern philosophical mode of ethics and the existing myths of imaginations that have taken the lead in the history of mankind. In its role as a myth elaborator and a foundation of ethical and social norms, Religion could be said to be the bedrock upon which all human civilizations are built (Bloom, 2005, p 77).

Religious beliefs, theories and practices have acted as the fabric that binds the society together. It has also given man tools to live orderly and ethically. It acts like a framework that helps humans to make meaning out of life (Enroth, 2005, p. 135).

Religion and New Age

All over the world and particularly in western countries; Christians often come into contact with varied aspects of the “New Age” phenomenon. Majority of the people feel the need to understand how best to approach situations which at times is so alluring, complicated, elusive and even, disturbing. In so doing Christians attempt to address two objectives.

These generally give some pointers to the aspects of the new age developments that may be considered to be inconsistent with the fundamental elements of the Christian life or the Christianity as the religion in principle. It is agreeable that the differences are very clear and it is essential to address the variance that arise so that the religious foundations is streamlined and maintained to serve the fundamental purpose in human history.

The following discussion is in support of the notion that New Age spiritualities are more suited to contemporary western life than the established, collective religions. The argument agrees to the fact that New Age approach is well-suited to the modern society, as it enables people to practice spirituality while avoiding the collective bondages imposed by the great world religions.

Culture and the “New Age”

“New Age” has been indicated as a very coherent current of thought. Also as a deliberate challenge to modern culture. It has also being argued to capture the diverse structure that includes the many diverse elements that human life is made up with.

This is believed to be able to allow the individuals to share their interests with those who would be interested in subscribing to their views in various aspects of life. The degrees of commitments to various faiths are also seen to vary from one individual to another and across the various classes of people.

New Age” religion can be viewed as a response to people’s religious concerns, needs and queries. This is an attempt of people to discover and rediscover a spiritual dimension in their lives. The New age religion takes into account the differences in people character, and genuine opinion about many things in life.

Especially when it comes to the search of meaning and purpose of life , it is believed that many people are still struggling to make the very sense of existence and the new age religion aims at addressing such discrepancies. There is also very clear distinction between religion and spirituality in this line of thought.

In many occasions, organized religion has been rejected on the basis that it has failed in their judgment to answer their needs. As a result they have sought to find spirituality elsewhere. At the core perceptions of “New Age” is the belief is the belief that some religious perceptions have been overtaken by time the time so that reference to it as a religion would be self-defeating to its own self-understanding. New-Age, However, can be considered in the broader context of esoteric religiousness, whose appeal continues to grow (Jelen, 2006, p. 343).

The New Age movement is considered as an amorphous association of people who not most feel that “humanity is at the dawn of entering into a new form of consciousness”. Those who adhere and also associate with the “new age” have similar characteristics that may encompass the type of spiritual syncretism and there will to seek what they believe to be truth and the peace. Although a difficult spiritual development concept to understand and portray, as a religion of co modification (Bowman, 2008, p 156).

With it merges with several medical or psychological methods meditation, such as acupuncture, homeopathy,aromatherapy, astrology, environmentalism, Hermetic practice, Esoteric Christianity and Goddess Worship. this protean mix of nuance and the bizarre, the New Age itself remains among the more difficult of contemporary spiritual developments to comprehend and portray, but as a “religion of commoditization,” it parlays with any number of alternative medical or psychological methods ranging from (Campbell 2007, p. 255) .

Campbell (2007, p. 278) adds that beneath the popular image of New Age, are antecedents derived from venerable aspects, called “cultic milieu.” . New Age arises from these settings. The concept inherits practice of channeling spirits from other dimensions’ it is also characterized by belief which associates illness and poverty as either illusions or diseases of the mind.

It also borrows the understandings of karma and reincarnation (Tucker, 2007, p. 239). The “cultic milieu” incorporates esoteric and non-mainstream ideas borrowed from the East and blended with occult and pagan from the western countries

Why Secularism?

Secularism can be regarded as the foundation of modern civilization. Secularism goes beyond separating religion from state institutions (Karner, 2004, p. 30). In general terms, the concept is cognizant of the fact the affairs affecting a state are too important to be pegged upon the whims of ancient myths and superstitions (Geoffroy, 2004, p. 35). History acknowledges that, technological advancement is owed to the concept of secularism. Scientific development, which has led to all technical and economic benefits, is a product of increasing secularism. Geoffrey ( 2004, p. 36) further observes that secularism was the proven solution to centuries of religious conflict in Europe.

Secularism has brought far reaching benefits. However, Tucker (2007, p. 238) asserts that this legacy seems to have been forgotten and suggests the need for learning. These days are long gone, but the sectarian consequences of our over indulgence of religious schools will be felt well into the future.

Religious strictness has also acted as the major hindrance to economic growth of some economies across the globe and this has resulted in economic backwardness. Based on this premise, Ataturk, the victorious general at Gallipoli, abolished the Caliphate in favour of secularism on Turkey.

Provisions in the Turkish constitution, strongly mandates secularism while excluding any religious influence on legislation (Johnston, 2007, p. 39). Coincidentally, such countries don’t seem to have. In most cases, the religious laws cannot be amended by the elected law makers. In this case, democracy is elusive. It is no wonder efforts to establish democracy in Iraq has proved an exercise in futility. With such laws in place, Iraq is doomed to sectarian strife, oppression and endless economic and social deprivation.

Apart from Iraq, politicians in many other parts of the world seem to be advancing their religious credentials. They seem to ignore the realization that populations have become less religious. The answer to this paradox is embedded in the nature of globalization and multiculturalism which has played a key role resolving conflicts among Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Marler, 2002, p. 297). Abandoning of secularism, especially amongst political elites, may b influenced by complex causes, but the outcomes are unbearable.

Religion and religiousness would not have been contentious issues, if societies were more culturally homogenous (Kellner, 2002, p. 150). There would be no threat to cultural sensitivities. However, the world and even countries have become more ethnically diverse. , The ethos of multiculturalism is therefore necessary to achieve a sustainable tolerance and to support development of the minorities (Secor, 2002, p. 122).

Social cohesion is realized through acceptance cultural diversity. Nevertheless, multiculturalism tends to undermine religions-considered as the cultural phenomena. Multi-cultureless has placed religious cultural effects beyond question. The result is that, religion has been shielded from the rational assessment as it was in the past.

Conclusion

Despite the many beliefs that quickly be placed under the general fabric of “New Age,” as a religious perspective, New Age is regarded as a shared attempt to understand what constitutes the world, humanity and the supernatural and the relationships between them in ways that give meaning to participants’ lives and help them determine what is valuable within some sort of workable framework.

The driving force behind New Age is the increasing awareness in today’s world of individual difference and cultural multiplicity which recognizes that religious choice is a personal decision. It is also worth mentioning that religious truth is no longer the monopoly of private elites or esoteric cabals, New Age religion may be said to represent a democratization of spirituality within the emergent.

References

Bloom, William, ed. Holistic Revolution, 2005.: The Essential New Age Reader. London: Allen Lane/Penguin.

Bowman, Robert M., Jr. Orthodoxy and Heresy: A Biblical Guide to Doctrinal Discernment. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008. Explains simply, for those with no theological background, the importance of discerning orthodox from heretical teaching and sets forth a broad evangelical approach to doing so.

Campbell, Colin B. “The Cult, the Cultic Milieu and Secularization.” In Michael Hill, ed. A Sociological Yearbook of Religion in Britain 5. London: SCM Press, 2007, 119–36.

Clark, Peter B., ed. Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements. New York: Routledge, 2006. 700-page secular academic reference work.

Enroth, Ron, ed. A Guide to New Religious Movements. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005. Brief, up-to-date chapters on JWs, Mormons, Unification Church, Hinduism, the New Age movement, the Dalai Lama, Neopaganism, Baha’i, and the Nation of Islam

Geoffroy, Martin 2004. ‘Theorizing Religion in the Global Age: A Typological Analysis’. International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, 18(1):33-46.

Jelen, Ted G. 2006. ‘Religion and politics in the United States: Persistence, limitations and the prophetic voice.’ Social Compass, 53(3): 329-43.

Johnston, Jerry. Similarities and Differences of Non-Christian Belief Systems. Overland Park, KS: Jerry Johnston Publishing, 2007. Megachurch pastor provides information and analysis of heretical Christian sects, world religions, and other movements.

Karner, Christian & Aldridge, Alan 2004. ‘Theorizing Religion in a Globalizing World’. International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, 18(1):5-32.

Kellner, Douglas 2002. ‘September 11, Social Theory and Democratic Politics’. Theory-Culture-Society, 19(4): 147-159.

Marler, Penny Long and C. Kirk Hadaway 2002. “‘Being religious’ or ‘being spiritual’ in America: a zero-sum proposition?” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(2):289-300.

Secor, Anna 2002. ‘Islamist politics: Antisystemic or post-modern movements?’ Geopolitics, 6 (3):117-34.

Tucker, Ruth A. Another Gospel: Alternative Religions and the New Age Movement. Grand Rapids: Zondervan—Academie, 2007. Evangelical historian’s textbook is strongest on historical exposition of the origins and people involved in each religion

Walker, James K., with the staff of Watchman Fellowship. The Concise Guide to Today’s Religions and Spirituality. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2007. Short definitions or descriptions for some 1600 entries of groups, authors, practices, doctrines,

Wuthnow, Robert 2004. ‘Presidential address 2003: The challenge of diversity.’ Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 43(2):159-70.

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