The new age mindset dismisses tradition and long-standing religious organization and goes it alone. This pervasive individualist tendency of mind dismisses tradition and sends it packing. It disregards anything hinting of hierarchy, history, and order.
The adolescent impulse says “the hell with tradition and its authority structure. I’m going it alone.” This tendency of mind isn’t something we can pass off on the new age. It is a tendency of mind that has plagued us for centuries.
We’re all tempted to pick and choose what we like in a religion and what appeals to our egos. We’re enticed to disregard what we don’t like, especially elements challenging our egos. We’re lured to come up with a religion of our own making.
At times most of us have felt confined by communal life, traditional faith, and established religious authority. We want the resurrection without the cross; we want religion without the struggles of communal life spanning generations; we want a belief system without an authority structure.
We acknowledge that we often feel encumbered by established religion. There are so many problems with traditional belief systems, with all their restrictions and baggage. So, we are often tempted to go it alone or in loosely defined groups of our own making. The new age exemplifies our innate anti-authoritarian impulses.
It’s easy to scapegoat the new age, which lets us off the hook.
The new age at its best produces “new thought.” Alcoholic Anonymous was considered “new thought” or new age in the beginning. Now it’s a well established vehicle of collective transformation, which all reasonable churches consider a huge blessing. So, we exercise caution when evaluating the new age. We can’t summarily reject all new age phenomena. Some of it over time will bestow profound blessings. Yet, it behooves us to resist the new age tendency of mind stalking us all, mirroring our own anti-authoritarian, individualist, and utopian impulses, which lack depth, which lack roots, which only scratch the surface. The Buddhist author Gary Snyder put it well:
City of buds and flowers
Where are your fruits?
Where are your roots?