(I have discovered that some of my email has been going into a spam folder particularly those that come from outside the North American continent. I think I have resolved the problem – but I want you to know it is important to me to answer all who contact me. It may not be a great answer and sometimes I get backed up enough that it could be a week or longer, but I do answer. I was appalled that a dear woman from Scandinavia had a simple question that had been unread for a full two weeks. If I don’t answer, there has probably been some glitch. Press on and give me a chance. I have kind of fallen in love with our little virtual community here and I hate to think anyone is left unanswered).
The more I read of Connie Rossini’s website, “Contemplative Homeschool,” which I link to at the right under ‘Interesting Theological Sites,’ the higher the esteem in which I hold it. Do not be intimidated because I categorize it as a theological site. It is straightforward and accessible. Best of all, the material in it is useful and solidly grounded in the teaching of the saints. Today she has a piece that rips up the deceits of New Age Occultism – and defends St. Teresa of Avila from the slander that she was spiritually one of the New Agers.
The “New Age” should actually be called the “Old Errors Wearing New Clothes,” for all it is is pantheism risen again – and pantheism was thoroughly discredited over 500 years ago. I guess it had to wait for people to both forget about the dry hole it is AND to be ignorant of history, philosophy and theology before it could don its Birkenstocks, patchouli and some pretty crystals so it could play at being something new. Sadly, it is on a mission to convince the unwary that it is compatible – and even complementary – to Christianity. Spirituality that involves “centering prayer,” yoga meditations, and “Reiki healing,” among other thing, is not compatible with Christianity. It is occultism, pure and simple.
Of course, we Christians deserve a lot of the blame for these errors rising again. People seek something profound and true. When we reduce Christ to a caricature, a formulaic two-dimensional scold or, conversely into a vague do-your-own-thing hippie, we present a false face to the world. Thus, when we have concealed what is deep, joyful and true under many veils of our own making, small wonder people should go chasing after what is merely frothy. For those who would make Jesus into a scold, I remind you that He was always full of compassion and tenderness for those rough characters who had lost hope – or thought they weren’t good enough. In fact, He trolled the ancient equivalents of biker bars and redlight districts to recruit disciples. His scolding was reserved almost exclusively for the conventionally piously religious of His time. Might want to think about that. For others who reduce him to a vague hippie guru, I remind you that forgiveness was not His last word when He healed someone or transformed them: He ended by telling them to “..go and sin no more.
Finally, two striking quotes from St. Teresa:
– “To reach something good it is very useful to have gone astray – and thus acquired experience.” (I quote this one for all of you folks who are in pain because of family members who are right now far from God. The good God may well just be indulging them for a time that they may gain experience.)
– “Be gentle to all and stern with yourself.” (If we could live this one well, I believe we would be at the very gates of the kingdom already.)