The New Age Meets The New World Order
by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
I am still reading Deep Ecology (G. Sessions, ed.) and today was surprised to read a negative critique by George Sessions of New Age thought vis a vis deep ecology ('nature for nature's sake'). My surprise is consequent to my having assigned New Age thought to the hocus-pocus section of the used books stores I frequent. Here are found books on channeling, crystology, numerology, shamanism, and general guru-adoration. I obviously have a disdain for this stuff, and want to distance myself from it, though, were I to write a book, this is probably where you'd find it — in mint condition. [I don't justify this prejudice; I confess to having it].
But apparently New Age thinking is much broader than I had imagined and includes the Gaia (Earth as living organism) movement, like-minded eco-philosophies, and a great deal of general philosophizing and policy development concerning the environment, as well.
Session's basic criticism is this: None of these philosophies has escaped the fundamental Judeo-Christian anthropocentrism. Humanity is special. Humankind is the 'steward' of Nature, which exists for the benefit of man. Thus, behind all the affirmative rhetoric regarding Nature, lurk the very seeds of its destruction. We are not co-equal, but dominant.
I was surprised, too, that he chose the thought of Teilhard de Chardin, the Catholic priest/paleo-anthropologist/philosopher, to trace the evolution of this point of view into the environmental movement. For one thing, I thought him too obscure. But apparently, his influence has been extensive. (I, for my part, have never been able to get past a few pages of his The Phenomenon of Man, being too put off by the same presuppositions which disturb Sessions).
Consistent with his Christian background, T. de Chardin believed that humanity was the Omega point of evolution and God's means of 'redeeming' the world. Consequentially, (according to Sessions) he envisioned the most Earth-transforming, Earth-dominating, future imaginable. Also consistent with his Catholicism, he not only saw no problem with the human population explosion, but saw one, huge, world-covering mono-culture as the apotheosis of Man. Scary stuff, indeed -- if for no other reason than that its utopianism is but the flip-side of totalitarianism.
I never before understood the title, Brave New World, but now I understand that you'd have to be damned brave to live there.
It would be a mistake, I believe, to think that Asian religio-philosophy is the remedy for Judeo-Christian ills. Zen especially appealed to the samurai, who used it to develop bushido culture, which motivated brutal conquest and immense cruelty. No, Pogo had it right when he said: "We have seen the enemy; and they is us."
"Us" is your heart and my heart, Christian hearts and Zen hearts. Transformation does not dwell in any philosophy, but in our own individual connectedness to the pulse of life within. If that cannot guide and transform us, nothing ever will.
You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.