The Church of Evolutionary Karmic Auras–and More!

Check out this sign, attached to a quaint, white church-type building in downtown Encinitas, CA. Encinitas is the New Age capital of the universe; just about every other downtown area business is a an aura repair place, or a harmonic balance restorer, or chakra adjustment center. While-U-Wait Crystal Buffing While-U-Wait. Drive-through cosmic alignment. All that sort of thing. It’s pretty amazing.

So the Chapel of Awareness Spiritual Church is definitely right at home in downtown Encinitas.

If you can’t read the text at the bottom of the top part of the window, it says, “LEARN ABOUT KARMA, AURAS, HEALING, EVOLUTION  & MORE.” Evolution! And more!

Could I make this up?

Now, to be clear: I know a lot of deeply compassionate, thoughtful, intellectually disciplined, highly moral New Agers. My best friend, actually, is a Universal Unitarian, and you can’t get any New Agier than that if you changed your name to Guru Humakosmictuneinyerpants. My reason for showing the sign is just to share it with people who might live in normal parts of the country, and to note how stuck the people who run this place are/were with the word “church.”

I figure they couldn’t have wanted to use that word, right? Because it so instantly connotes Christianity. But what other word could they use? What were they going to call their place, Chapel of Awareness Spiritual Place? Chapel of Awareness Spiritual Building That Looks Just Like a Regular Church But Isn’t?

Oh, wait. Duh. Center.

Why didn’t they call it Chapel of Awareness Spiritual Center? Why did they use the word church?

Ah. I just went to look at their website (!), and there discovered that they’re a “California Non-Profit Religious and Educational Corporation.”

Which I think clears up the mystery of why they’d want to be known as a “church.” And also why they make a point of how they teach evolution—which seemed super-weird.

Wow.

Well: America! You gotta love it. Or at least try not to let it drive you too crazy.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://www.wordpress.com/lindsay1972 Lindsay

    Great commentary. Not a FAN of the new agery myself , but I think by UU you are referring to Unitarian Universalists? They are by NO means New Age, but rather one of the oldest denominations in America (dating back to 1630): http://www.firstchurchboston.org/

  • http://cadoah.wordpress.com cadoah

    "Guru Hum-a-Cosmic-Tune-in-Your-Pants." Hilarious…

  • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

    John, in light of your recent posts I cannot help but to begin to think that you really dont like anything 'New Agey'.

    Hope I'm wrong….

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    One the funniest things I noticed (way later than everybody else I suppose) is the Church of Scientology uses a cross as their, well, logo. America! I don't gotta love it, right? That's not a commandment?

  • Diana

    "John, in light of your recent posts I cannot help but to begin to think that you really don't like anything ‘New Agey’."

    Yeah, John, what's up with all the anti-new ageist posts? They're just people walking a path just like the rest of us. Lighten up!

  • onemansbeliefs

    Neat website. I found this on their Philosophy page…

    "Through all time, the great spiritual leaders have been saying the same teaching; but as time had slipped by, these truths have been almost destroyed by the dogma added by mankind. Almost all the additions and deletions have diluted or destroyed what the original teacher was trying to say. In many cases these changes were made by the priesthood to gain control over the populace."

    I did not copy and paste all, but stopped at this last statement to contrast it with what I found on another page, which was this…

    "No requests for information from Spirit will be answered by us without an appointment with one of our Ministers."

    Thank "Something" that they are doing their part to reduce control over the populace.

  • http://www.sharpiron.org (sort of ) Christian

    Ric, I had no idea that they used a cross. What a hoot. But to be fair to the New Agers (even the wacky fly-paper ones that are stuck on anything 'spiritual' that comes down the pike) the Scientologists are not part of their gang. They are just normal folk who have been duped by a Machiavellian SciFi writer.and are closer to the suicidal comet jumpers than the crystal tuners. I think the closest weirdo religion to theirs is the Nation of Islam.

    Did you know that L. Ron Hubbard spoke with a lisp? Think about that when you next hear Tom or John talking about Operating Thetans.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Yeah Chris, I didn't mean to imply same camp, just same comedy of co-opting titles and/or symbols.

  • Eric

    Hi John,

    Thank you for commenting on this church which I am very familiar with, and allowing me to answer some of the implied questions.

    I agree the sign is new agey, but the church was established 37 years ago quite before the new age movement and "centers" existed. Also, the building was constructed in 1887 and is an Encinitas native.

    While Spirtualists practice similar things to new agers, it is a religion dating back maybe 100 years. Typical Spiritualists are devoutly Christian, believing only that one may communicate with people after they go to heaven, so the choice of the term "church' is a natural one. Perhaps you were thinking of Spiritism which is much more occult.

    Lastly, the founder was a paleantologist and astronomer, and loved science. As a result he wanted those who ran the organization to have a solid grasp of the basic scientific concepts such as evolution. Recal the NSF survey of Americans that revealed that more than half did not know the Earth goes around the sun, or that the dinosaurs predated humans by millions of years. These concepts form a well-rounded worldview in this philosophy, and are thus taught there.

    Advertising the teaching of evolution at a church *does* sounds funny, and I appreciated your commentary.

    kind regards,

    Eric

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    What a great response, Eric. I really appreciate it, especially given that (let's face it), I was dancing pretty freely here on the not-all-that-fine-a-line between … well, let's see: smugly condescending, and outright obnoxious. Wonderful response. U the man.


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