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Vexen Crabtree 2015


Vexen Crabtree's Live Journal

Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards

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Vexen Crabtree 2015

Varieties of Religious Experience

Reading William James' lecture notes from 1900/1901, compiled into the
famous book "Varieties of Religious Experience", I have come across
descriptions of New Age /already/ describing it as a wave sweeping
across the modern world, and ALSO bemourning the ease at which it has
become commercialized!

I didn't credit the new age with any real noticeability until the

William James says that although they use Christian (white light)
terminology, they have clearly departed from the beliefs of normal
Christians, and mentions Hindu influence amonst other influences on
the movements.

I'm just wondering if anyone else is surprised that popular New Age
type things are actually 100 years old already.

Obviously Blavatsky and others have a little to answer for, but, I
hadn't imagined that the "new age" as a whole was identifiable that

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I wouldn't have thought so either. But the path for 'new age' was laid back with the Enlightenment, so presumabley it is simply the phrase that is semi-new.

It's making more sense now I've looked into it. Before 1900s sometime, the new age was almost entirely a movement from within Christianity but with Eastern influences.

As the shackles of Christianity loosened and society became freer, the movement flourished and swept across America (the time was right for revitalizing spirituality to replace the dusty claustophobic anti-human religion that Christianity had stagnated into), and in the process picked up Blavatsky, Crowley, and many other spiritual practices that were semi-underground.

In the light of the approaching 60s, all this broke above ground in a new wave ... which I imagine to be the same as the pre-1900s new thought movement, only truly without the constraints of Christian authority.

However, when you replace authority with complete youthfulness, as happened in USA 60s, you end up with a bubble that bursts as piles of irresponsible actions topple, causing the demise of the movements feel-good factor as the communities new societies failed to find stability, and lost the fresh momentum.

But, the process has made the world a richer place.

Indeed, I see it as a necessary step forward. It's like a child taking their first few steps (Enlightenment, New Age) the may stumble and fall but the are the beging of a new, better era. Indeed it has given rise to new, and in my opinion, far better ways of thinking than the previouse way's based on Christian mystisism. That we now have schools of thought that allow for the absebnce of dogma but can still retain a certain spirituality, and indeed, morality based on what is good for individuals and society, can only be for the greater good and benifit to mankind as a whole.

Sermon over :P

Maybe I have just been reading all this stuff for a long time, or what, but I knew that was the deal. I mean there is all kinds of Victorian era stuff that smacks of new-ageism. Homeopathy, messmerism, animal magnetism, quack doctors, seances and the like.
These things gained and faded in popularity as any other fads do. I think its rather cyclic, like fashion which comes back about every twenty years. A lot of historical stuff reoccurs about every fifty years or so [wars and the like].
Anyhows, that's my two cents, and, btw, hi I added you as a friend. *Laughs*

Sounds like if I knew more about V era, it'd not be surprising then...

Obviously a whole host of spiritual practices have been around for thousands of years, I was just surprised to see it coherently labelled as a single movement.

We are talking William James here. *Grins*

Yeah, it's a shame he stuck to Christianity so much, when he does touch other forms of religion his analysis and observations are as intelligent as when he's viewing more familiar traditions.

No, I didn't know that but it doesn't surprise me that much. Maybe the term 'New Age' meant something a little different than it means now. It's been several generations, after all. :) The part about Hindu influence makes perfect sense.


How about

"It has reached the stage, for example, when the demand for its
literature is great enough for insincere stuff, mechanically
produced for the market, to be to a certain extent provided by
publishers - a phenomenon never observed, I imagine, until a
religion got well past its earliest insecure beginnings."

I mean, what a perfect description of new age paraphenalia!

James' also describes influences as being spiritism, transcendentalism and ideas of "development" and "progress".

He says it calls itself the "New Thought" movement, but himself labells it as "Mind cure movement"

That IS a great description!

Isn't Transcendentalism a part of Hindu belief, or is it only Buddhist?

Mind cure movement?? What would they be trying to cure?

(Deleted comment)
In this context, simply, mind-Cure is curing by method of the mind, William James described the early new age, New Thought, and it's heavy emphasis on self-help and feel-good healthy-mindedness as a cure for psychological and physical illness, therefore called it as a whole "Mind-cure", after one of the groups within the general new age mind-body-spirit movement that gained momentum through 1850-1900.

Wow, I'm not getting the LJ email notifications for comments! Anyway, this is a bit off-topic, but I thought you might like to take a look at this.

Nanikore is a great logic-ician. Any particular part of the discussion you wanted to draw my attention to?

Yes, he's a very smart guy. Got to meet him and friendlyheretic in person back in Janury. :)

No, no... I just thought you might be interested by way of the topics in your website. You seem to be a philosophy buff as well (as HE is--not me... I know little). :)

It's cool you've met him :-)

I'm not a philosophy buff, but my minds' been going over similar subjects to _what the philosophers write about_, I've never studied philosophy and couldn't dicuss any philosophers' opinions! (Except Nietzsche, who I know well). I'm so much more a classical theologian than a classical philosopher!

Yep, he's very nice in person. Don't let his sarcastic persona fool you; he couldn't be more kind and gentlemanly. :)

I see what you mean here. Philosophy is just ... thinking about thinking. At least religion is thinking about ... something!

I think it's a part of mysticism (sufi, hindu, christian, ancient, new) of all ages. It's got a base in common biochemistry, I expect it to always occur.

Mind-Cure was a description James' used to describe the faith-healing aspects. Although the new age now call it "self help" etc, it started out as the same movement as Christian faith healing movements. The guy(s?) who founded Christian Science were connected with early proto-new-age groups.

I this context, simply, mind-Cure is curing by method of the mind.

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