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Saturday, December 02, 2006

new age

I'm finally reaching the end of "Heaven on Earth". Speaking of the writing of Ananda leader J. Donald Walters in the concluding chapter of the book, D'Antonio writes

This way of thinking does not point to the creation of a "new" age. Rather, it implies a return to an idealized version of an old New England village, a community of believers striving to live in relative simplicity, with God not far from their minds. Ananda suggests self-sufficiency, modesty, plainness, and rectitude--the bedrock Protestant values of early America. It may be difficult for those who regard the New Age as flaky, avant garde, or irresponsible to consider, but after my experience at Ananda, I became intrigued by the notion that the New Age is as much a revival of old American values as it is an embrace of the counterculture. Indeed, the villagers seem to reflect perfectly the Protestant ethic described by the great historian and sociologist Max Weber. They were industrious, Godly, communal, and ascetic--all qualities Weber identified in his analysis of the utilitarian successes of Protestant societies. Ananda has survived, and thrived, because of its old-fashioned work ethic, and a piety that discourages materialism, competitiveness, and jealousies.

I see a similar element in TM. My step-dad reads Emerson and has said that Maharishi admires the American founders. He and my mom read a lot of biographies of early American presidents. Anyway, there is at least an attempt to connect to what tradition we do have in this country, which perhaps is in some sense necessary for a transplant to thrive.

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