Reading/Movie Response #9 – The New Age

Your responses should convey to me what you have learned from the readings, lecture, and discussions. I am interested in your own reactions and interpretation of the material, new information and revelations you were surprised by or felt was significant, critiques, or how this material may relate to your own life experiences and beliefs. You will be graded on grammar/spelling as well, so be professional and academic with your writing. If you are citing outside sources, please use proper citation formats. These should be 1-2 pages, single-spaced, 12 pt. font. Here are two question to consider in your response, based upon our readings –
1. What is gained and what is lost when previously “esoteric” ideas become available to a mass consumer audience, as we see in New Age spirituality? Should we lament this as a kind of watering down and cheapening of older religious traditions for a general public? Or should we celebrate it as a kind of democratization of these traditions that makes them more widely accessible to ordinary people? Or is it more complicated?
2. As we saw above, some critics see a tension or contradiction between the “alternative spirituality” of New Age practices and the fact that so many of these practices have become commodified and turned into products for a market economy (as we see, for example, at New Age conventions such as the Universal Life Expo or at stores such as the Crystal Palace in Sedona). Do you think this is a fair criticism of New Age spirituality? Or could similar critiques be made of more or less all religious life in the twenty-first century? After all, don’t Catholics and Evangelicals sell a lot of books, DVDs, jewelry, and other merchandise too?