Today, it’s the privilege of many, but not all, to adopt whatever beliefs and practices we wish, and we have the internet to provide us with the texts and the fellow-pilgrims. It’s an odd contrast with the Europe of 500 years ago, which I sketched in my last. Then, it was your town or village which determined your beliefs. If you stepped out of line, you risked being roasted alive on a hill where everyone for miles could see the flames and pause for reflection.
I’m not going to speak of fundamentalism or terrorism---enough has been said already!---but of the new villages we have set up in cyberspace. Just because we may have embraced “New Age” ideas does not mean we’ve escaped the authority of priesthoods and liturgies. They establish themselves with repetitions that give them the spurious air of unquestionable truth. Friends and family circulate stuff in emails to us, with messages, images and even jokes that reinforce a new orthodoxy, so that even if we have not read the seminal texts of our generation, in which wisdom is “channeled”---e.g. Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch---we still have a familiarity with the main ideas.
Thus we will have heard of the “Law of Attraction”, whereby if we are positive in our thinking, then positive rewards---in this world, not the next---will come to us, by virtue, many say, of quantum physics. This reference to science, which is rejected by actual physicists, seems to “prove” the Law of Attraction whilst providing the necessary explanation as to why it was not just as well-known two thousand years ago.
We have probably heard also of the “Law of Abundance”, whereby there is enough wealth for everyone, according to a spiritual law, therefore it’s perfectly OK for us to become rich by utilising the Law of Attraction, by any means that falls into our lap.
These thoughts came to me, when I received a private communication the other day from someone who addressed me thus:
. . . each of us are blessed with so many gifts including abundance. So, why do less than 5% of the population control most of the wealth and why are people unhappy etc? . . .I won’t bore you with the rest of the verbiage in his linked material, which consists of inspirational quotes from Gandhi, Mandela, Emerson, Disney, Goethe, Schweitzer, Covey, Peale and more, which somehow has been boiled down to a simple message: you too can become a millionaire, if you have the right attitude---with possibly a smattering of pseudo-quantum physics, which you’ll obtain by watching a film called What the Bleep Do We Know?
The new priesthood doesn’t worry about the ethics involved in securing one’s income. One fellow I encountered was fond of saying “Cast thy bread upon the waters, and it will come back as sandwiches”---a parody of Ecclesiastes 11:1. I pointed out that this was not due to some special magic, but the sweated labour of a Third-world slave.
So what I am saying is that the New Age religion: “you create your own reality, so think rich & feather your own nest” is as corrupt as the sale of indulgences that so enraged Martin Luther.
And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.In Genesis 6:14, God told Noah to build an ark of gopher wood. Of what must today's Ark be built, dear friends?
And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold I will destroy them with the earth.