January 30, 2007

"New Age" explained

New AgeNew Age is a broad movement of late 20th century and contemporary Western culture, characterised by an individual eclectic approach to spiritual exploration.

Though there are no formal or definitive boundaries for membership, those who are likely to sample many diverse teachings and practices (from both 'mainstream' and 'fringe' traditions) and to formulate their own beliefs and practices based on their experiences can be considered as New Age. Rather than following the lead of an organised religion, "New Agers" typically construct their own spiritual journey based on material taken as needed from the mystical traditions of the worlds religions, also including shamanism, neopaganism and occultism.

New Age practices and beliefs may be characterized as a form of alternative spirituality or alternative religion.
Comment:  In case you were wondering, I'm an agnostic. In other words, I'm a religious and spiritual void. My attitude is to question everything and believe nothing (at least without proof).

In that regard, I'm like a Vulcan. I believe only in what you can prove with facts and evidence and logic. If there's no reason to believe in something, then I don't believe in it.

In contrast, both the religionist and atheist are sure of their beliefs, even though neither one has proof. They have faith that their position is the right one. Agnostics aren't like either type of believer because they have no definite beliefs.

New Agers have all sorts of religious and spiritual beliefs. But atheists, who are certain God doesn't exist, may have some beliefs aligned with New Ageism. For instance, they may believe the universe is filled with a "force" that isn't God but is supernatural. Or they may believe in the healing power of yoga or meditation or aromatherapy.

As an agnostic, I have no spiritual beliefs whatsoever. I'm the opposite of a New Ager, who tends to believe in anything and everything spiritual. No one in existence is less of a New Ager than I am.

All clear?

12 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
No, in fact all that has happened is that you, Rob, have muddied and muddled the waters of your own belief system. You are a New Ager, if only because you are of the generation that will be learning of the philosophical changes that now are occurring and then having to reconcile them with those 'traditional' beliefs that have existed previously. The phrase is that there is nothing new under the sun in human existence. But the logical extension of that is new recombinants will emerge and from thence will the human race proceed. Your definition of 'agnosticism' is flawed for one reason, and that is when a belief in nothing constitutes agnosticism. Wrong. Agnosticism itself is a belief, and thus there exists a major conflict in your statement. The Gnostics were Greeks who adapted Christian tenets as a philosophy, and thus the Agnostics were those Greeks who rejected or refused to accept adapted Christianity. They did not reject all other religious tenets that existed but only rejected Christianity. Rather limiting, when one considers it in such light. Atheists, however, do reject all religious beliefs, including Christianity. And this is why agnostics in the truest sense are believers only of a differing stripe. They believe, whether they know it or not.
Missedd it by THAT much, sir...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
POSTSCRIPTUM -- And so saying that you are a Vulcan does much disservice to Vulcans if only because they are a fictional construct to provide a mirror to what can be considered 'modern' rejection of human religious beliefs. Examine writerfella's presentation of Vulcan principles, and then you will know why Gene Roddenberry, Gene L. Coon, and D.C. Fontana all embraced writerfella's interpretations of what actually was being said. Thus, they went out of their way to make sure that what writerfella had found became an expression of their own philosophies...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella

Rob said...

Ironically, your vague talk of "philosophical changes" and "new recombinants" is just the sort of thing that New Agers write. Once again, you've demonstrated you're a lot more of a New Ager than I am.

Judging by the obfuscating verbiage, you really don't know what "New Age" means. And even with the actual definition in front of you, you still didn't get it right. Wow.

If you're having trouble understanding what I wrote, please let us know. I'm not particularly interested in made-up definitions that have no basis in reality. If you want to discuss this subject, prove you can crack a dictionary or any reference source and give us a real definition.

Here's the definition of the adjective "agnostic":

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/agnostic

ag·nos·tic /æg?n?st?k/

–adjective
3. of or pertaining to agnostics or agnosticism.
4. asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.

FYI, "asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge" is the same as believing nothing without proof.

Whatever dictionary you're using, you might try one that was compiled since the 19th century. Agnosticism does not mean rejecting Christianity but not other religions. If it ever meant that, that was centuries ago. Its present meaning is equivalent to doubting established schools of thought.

If it isn't clear, "all claims to knowledge" means all religions, philosophies, and sciences. Of course, scientists are supposed to question scientific "truths," so a good scientist is agnostic by definition. But religionists are supposed to take their "truths" on faith, so agnosticism is contrary to every religion as well as atheism.

In short, I didn't miss anything, Russ. I've correctly defined "agnosticism" along with "decimate," "media," "semantics," and "New Age." You've yet to cite a definition for any of these terms other than the ones you've imagined.

Rob said...

Re "Examine writerfella's presentation of Vulcan principles": What, you mean the 10-20 lines of dialog you wrote in one half-hour cartoon? Is that supposed to impress us? I've seen every episode of the original Trek (TV shows, cartoons, and movies) multiple times. I've also read about 100 TOS novels as well as the standard reference guides.

So I doubt you know more about Vulcans than I do. But surprise me. Tell me a Roddenberry/Coon/Fontana-approved Vulcan principle that you know and I don't. Good luck with your answer.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
writerfella cannot be a New Ager ever because he is several generations behind such a development and the 'New Age' only just has begun. Luckily for him, writerfella will not be around to suffer through the birth pangs of the next worldwide philosophy that will wrest and wreak havoc for humankind.
And what you do not know is that writerfella has over a dozen STAR TREK stories under his belt from The Original Series and other series, including an entire screenplay called STAR TREK: RAGNAROK that centers around the logical madness that strikes Mr. Spock while the USS ENTERPRISE is on a mission. A protostar has ingested a micro-mini Black Hole and is fast becoming a massive singularity without ever having burned as a star at all. Two shiploads of scientists who were there to observe the birth of a new star are trapped in the ever-expanding gravity well and the Enterprise is sent to rescue them. On the way to the singularity, a small disabled spaceship appears in their path and the occupant is rescued. And the being turns out to be a kind of Vulcan no one ever has seen, small like a Leprechaun and smart as a whip. Spock immediately says that the being, called a Lokili, is from his home world and is a part of a race of criminals that the rest of the Vulcans are ashamed. The being is imprisoned and the ship continues on its mission. But Spock's madness increases and it is his plan to plunge the Enterprise into the singularity as a form of logical suicide. The Lokili simply is waiting for the right opportunity to have his chance at Spock. On Vulcan, when the main Vulcans adopted their philosophy of rejecting emotions, a part of the race stood aloof of that decision and instead went into seclusion at the south pole of Vulcan. There, they became like Hobbits, shrinking in stature but nonetheless serving a function for the rest of the Vulcans. They took it as their duty to bedevil and cajole the main race on Vulcan and otherwise make their logical lives miserable, because they have become the repositories of the emotions that the others reject. Spock dying and then being reborn therefore means he now lacks the 'Lokili Test' experience that all Vulcans must undergo as teenagers to remain sane in their emotionless Nirvana. And so this one Lokili has come to rescue Spock from logical insanity. But first he must convince the Enterprise crew that Spock is going insane...
Other stories include 'The Lesser Evil' where the crew becomes victim to a possible invasion by symbiotic creatures who are fleeing a race of giants; 'Til Death Do We Join', where suddenly the child self of every crew member appears aboard ship; 'Return To Paradise' where the ship returns to the planet where Kirk became a medicine man to American Indians placed there by aliens, this time to find clues to who the Old Ones were who put the Indians there.
That is where we differ as people of creativity, Rob. writerfella never assumes that someone else has told him all there is to know about themselves, as you have assumed anent writerfella...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
And the word you were searching for, Rob, is: NIHILISM...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

"[T]he birth pangs of the next worldwide philosophy that will wrest and wreak havoc for humankind" sounds like more New Age talk to me.

"New Age" is a grab-bag of alternative religions that have been around for decades. It's not a change that's coming, it's a quasi-religion that's here now.

Unless a Star Trek story is published, it isn't part of the canon. Even then, it isn't really part of the canon unless it appears on an officially sanctioned ST show.

Moreover, writing stories doesn't give you more insight into the characters than reading them does. In addition to the material I listed before, I've read several dozen ST comics and graphic novels. What have you read that compares to that?

I'm glad your Lokili story isn't part of the canon. It sounds too gimmicky to me.

The Spock's World novel made the point that the Vulcans have humans to help them acknowledge their emotional side. Enterprise: The First Adventure presented a Vulcan who embraced emotions as a deviant. The canon doesn't need the Lokili also.

Incidentally, Vulcans don't reject emotions so much as suppress and control them. Only when they undertake the rigorous Kohlinar discipline do they actually try to purge their emotions. That's Vulcan Principles 101 for you.

Wikipedia defines nihilism as:

"Nihilism (From the Latin nihil, nothing) is a philosophical position which argues that the world, especially past and current human existence, is without objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. Nihilists generally assert some or all of the following: there is no reasonable proof of the existence of a higher ruler or creator, a 'true morality' is unknown, and secular ethics are impossible; therefore, life has no truth, and no action is known to be preferable to any other."

That doesn't describe me since I believe a true morality is knowable and secular ethics are more than possible. I gave you the definition of "agnosticism," which still has nothing to do with rejecting only Christianity. It's the correct word for my beliefs.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
It may sound like 'New Age' talk to you, but that does not make it 'New Age' talk. Rather, it comes from the works of Carl Jung on synchronicity and the collective unconscious, done before 1925. Jung did not espouse any 'alternate religions' but instead observed that, with the ascent to the zenith of the next astrological sign, a new philosophy arises to disturb the directions of all mankind. Per exemplum, the rise of the Christian ethos coincided with the rise of Pisces to astrozological zenith and thus the Christ figure's symbol became the fish. With Aquarius' rise to astrological zenith, a new philosophy is being birthed at this time somewhere on Earth that eventually will take the sign of the water carriers. The Christ figure did not return in 1000 A.D., nor in 2000 A.D., and so millennialists are in panic mode.
The Animated STAR TREK episode written by writerfella won the only top echelon Emmy Award that any ST franchise ever has received and it still is not canon by Paramount's arbitrary decision. This in no way detracts from nor diminishes writerfella's pride in his own work. And your interpretation of what it is to be an 'agnostic' really only means that you're not Greek...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

voyageur said...

I've not read his thoughts on the subject, but I think it would be safe to bet (inside or outside of any Native-run or non-Native run gaming establishment) that Rob does not believe in astrology at all.

As for what is "canon" or not, Rob did say it is canon if "it appears on an officially sanctioned ST show". I tend agree that the aired shows of the Animated Series are canon, even if Paramount might (?) not. Thus, to me, Lt. Arex, Dawson WalkingBear, and the Kzinti Empire are all canon. Unpublished/unshown stuff I would not count as canon unless there is something really definite such as documentation that Gene Roddenberry specifically pointed at such an unrealized work and said "See this? This is what Star Trek is all about!!!"

There's no reason our erstwhile Writerfella should not be proud of "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth". Here's a nice page I found concerning it:

http://www.geocities.com/Area51/3253/tas/21howsharperthanaserpents.html

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
'Erstwhile'? 'Former'!
writerfella may be 65 and on his Social Security, but he is far from a former anything, unless you mean USAF missileman, or university student (he attended twelve colleges and universities up to 1984), or member of Disabled American Veterans (they're so right-wing, their airplanes constantly spin). Right now writerfella is at work on three new stories, one where epigenetic echoes produce what people see as 'dinosaurs', 'sea monsters', or even 'BigFoot' -- and another that computer searching and accumulation of information about cryptids gathers so much Manitou energy in one spot that a giant squid or Bigfoot or Nessie or even Roswell aliens can pop up in your house and kill you. The third is based on the infamous 'Sedgwick Pie', where a stern patriarch ordered that all of his descendants be buried in the family plot facing his grave, up until the very last one who is buried elsewhere and thus is able to leave their grave...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

voyageur said...

Ah, for better use of preview. I used the wrong word, and did not mean "former".

Regardless of whatever else you are doing now, nobody is a "former" writer when they leave comments in blogs.

Rob said...

I didn't interpret "agnostic," since I got the definition from the dictionary. I suggest you do the same.

The book Jung and the New Age begins: "Jung's name has been widely associated with New Age spirituality for about three decades, but his relationship to this movement is problematical." Check it out on Amazon.com for more on your New Age beliefs:

http://www.amazon.com/Jung-New-Age-David-Tacey/dp/158391160X