Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Man's Unlimited Folly

On Sunday afternoon, I walked around Cambridge, Mass. for a couple of hours. I went into an "enlightenment bookstore" for a few minutes, partially to get out of the cold, partially because of the range of books I saw in the window. Living in Southern California, there is no shortage of Metaphysical bookstores, but I seldom give them even a second glance.

This store seemed to be attempting to be all things to all people, with section after section based on almost every worldview imaginable. The Christian section had a few works from within the realm of orthodoxy (Augustine's Confessions, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress), but had a slant away from historic Christanity with more than a few volumes about the Christ-Budda connection, Isis as the original Mary, and "lost" books of the Bible.

But that's not what surprised me. What did was the sheer variety and volume of material espousing one or another version of alternative truth. There were books and books of "transcriptions" from a channeled prehistoric spirit guide. A glance inside showed the self-as-god message that seems underneath many of these approaches. But it didn't stop there, it got more and more obscure and esoteric, all packaged as useful and helpful guidance to figure out and live life. There was Geomancy, Blavatsky, Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, and many more. I've seen Peter Jones speak several times, and agree with him, but this still managed to give me pause about the rise of paganism in today's world. Shelves and shelves, with intent "seekers" sitting in the aisles intently reading them all.

And to underscore it all, they had three shelves devoted to alchemy of all practices. I looked through one of the books, a reprint from a few hundred years ago. It was so deliberately obtuse and techno-mystical that I looked at another to see if it was similar. It was. Utter nonsense! People devoted their lives to this practice? Some devote their lives now? It's been too easy to dismiss and ignore. I'm going to read some more of Dr Jones' works about today's paganism, and get more ready to engage this unfortnately pervasive trend.


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