The spiritual dynamics of the New Age Movement
The aims of this thesis are to provide a general overview of New Age spirituality/theology, and to organize this overview within a framework which highlights and explains many of the fundamental contradictions of the movement. The introductory section begins with a discussion of the problems associated with defining the New Age, and looks at some recent overviews of the movement. It goes on to highlight some of the fundamental contradictions of the New Age, and criticizes attempts by researchers to preserve the notion that it is something characterized by 'common values and a common vision.' The introduction moves on to outline the broad and heuristic framework that this thesis will employ in its overview of New Age spirituality. This framework makes an organizational division between 'patriarchal' and 'ecological' spirituality. The methodology section discusses research methods and definitions of key terms. My definition of 'patriarchal spirituality' is derived from ecofeminist theory. Given that ecofeininism is itself much associated with the New Age, my overview does in a sense reflect a 'New Age' approach to the New Age. 'Ecological' spirituality indicates more than simply concern with the interrelationships among organisms and their physical environment, although this concern is certainly expressed by those who embrace an ecological spirituality. The 'ecological' rubric is employed in a broader sense, indicating: 1) the belief that the earth and the cosmos are home to the human; 2) the belief that all things are interrelated and interdependent; 3) a high regard for 'diversity.' Part One examines the historical roots of the New Age. Part Two is concerned with New Age patriarchal spirituality. Part Three looks at New Age ecological spirituality, with particular emphasis upon Christian creation spirituality and feminist Wicca. The conclusion section highlights problems involved in attempting to make a clear division between these two New Age dynamIcs.