Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"New Spirituality" in Korea

The New Spirituality, the last topic of discussion in the series Catholicism and Other Religions appearing in the Peace Weekly, is the name given to an eclectic mix of teachings and techniques, which emphasize  personal efforts and the importance of a direct experience of reality. The writer a professor emeritus, considers this to be an 'unseen religion' that  includes: Transcendental Meditation,  Power of  Will,  Mind Control, Zen, Extra Sensory Perception and the like. This would be understood by many to be what is called New Age Spirituality: considered by many to be an 'alternative religion.'
Origins of this movement, the professor says, began in the last part of the 19th century, as an attempt to come to terms with the industrial revolution. Looking at it from a religious viewpoint, he sees it as a backlash against the materialism, scientism, and rationalism that pervaded society at that time, and the need to satisfy the craving for the non-rational, the mysterious and the spiritual.
This craving was not satisfied by the established religions and many wanted more than they were receiving, which was the reason for the quick spread of this new spirituality. Also the strategy learned from capitalism on how to market products in search of greater profits helped the movement; spirituality became a marketable commodity.
The New Spirituality is a part of the New Religious Movement but there are major differences. The New Religious Movement attracted those who felt they were being left out of mainstream society: the alienated and oppressed. The New Spirituality, on the other hand, attracted those who were well educated and had good jobs, those of the middle class living in the cities. It is sometimes called The New New Religious Movement.

The professor lists some of the ideas of the movement: searching for a higher state of consciousness and more concern with nature; concern for the God within rather than the God outside; acknowledging the spiritual evolution we are experiencing and a need for a new awakening; emphasizing the development of personal inner strengths and direct experience instead of seeking the God outside and the supernatural. And they do not see any conflict between science and religion, and want them joined.

The conflict with Christianity comes with the denial of Christ's divinity. They believe in monism. All is one. They would not see Jesus as savior. Their idea of morality would also be in conflict. When one is excessively absorbed with the teaching of this new spirituality, there will be harm done to a Christian's faith life. The truths of faith and the existence of the Church are threatened by this new spirituality.

The Catholic Church, with its traditional world view, had difficulty in coming to an understanding of the  modern world.  Establishing the social Gospel, and giving life to pastoral work has helped to overcome the difficulties. We are now faced with another problem: postmodernism.  In dealing with this newcomer on the  scene, it will be necessary to read the signs of the times and cope positively with a new attitude, which should, at the same time, enable the Church to follow the mandate of the Gospel it has received, and faithfully continue its mission.

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