Feature

Various Contributors

Abstract


Our feature this issue concentrates on a phenomenon, or series of phenomena, in modern society labelled 'New Age' religion. A number of themes emerge in the papers which give a comprehensive overview to what on the surface are quite disparate manifestations. Philip Almond places New Age soundly in the continuum of Western thought showing it to be not 'new' but rather a synthesis and re-emergence of many earlier traditions. Michael Hill takes up the story from a sociological perspective examining theories predicting the development of just such a religious form. He enumerates the central characteristics of New Age religions, and suggests why such religions are so persuasive in modern society. Rachel Sharp and Jan O'Leary look at various distinguishing aspects of New Age and offer a Christian critique. Michael Stanley utterly refutes New Age as 'new' and shows how many of its key concepts were developed, often more convincingly, by Emanual Swedenborg in the eighteenth century. We end with two practical manifestations of such religion - a negative offshoot where Jenny Barnett and Michael Hill consider the emergence of accusations of satanic child abuse, and a more lighthearted example of 'channelled' poetry from John Wren-Lewis - and end with a book review from John May.


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