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Religion Library: New Age

Beginnings

Written by: Benjamin E. Zeller

The August 1987 Harmonic Convergence reveals the underlying nature of the New Age movement. Though New Age practitioners generally refer to the Convergence as a single event, in fact it represented dozens of gatherings around the world as thousands of practitioners celebrated what they believed was a cosmic marker of the inauguration of a new era-that is, a New Age-for the world and society. The same year, Shirley MacLaine's "Out on a Limb" television series, based on her book of the same name (1983), highlighted her own journey and made explicit mention of her identification with the New Age subculture, particularly her belief in reincarnation. Though most outsider observers generally scoffed at both MacLaine's claims of previous lives and the Harmonic Convergence attendees' claims that a new era had dawned, the attention that media outlets paid to both not only attracted attention to the New Age, but served as a manner for New Age practitioners to realize that they were not merely individuals in a spiritual quest, but members of a broader religious movement.



Study Questions:
     1.    What does the New Age movement comprise?
     2.    What are the four themes of New Age religion?
     3.    How has the New Age movement evolved out of the New Thought movement?
     4.    How has literacy helped the New Age spread?

 
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