To the editors:
In his letter to the Reader, David Whiteis complained that National Public Radio “broadcasts the New Age idiocy of New Dimensions” [July 30]. Hypocritically, he later decried “the spiritual pollution of U.S. culture by rampant materialism.” Exactly what kind of spirituality does Mr. Whiteis fear is being polluted?
Just as he applauded National Public Radio for encouraging us to “think our way to . . . carefully considered” conclusions, New Dimensions offers us interviews with the likes of the Dalai Lama, Joseph Campbell, Matthew Fox, Dr. McDougall, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Joanna Macy, and Robert Bly–people on the cutting edge of spirituality, art, and science–and then leaves it to us to explore, experiment, and decide for ourselves. Is this idiocy? To me this seems highly admirable, especially since we live in a country whose mainstream faiths threaten us with eternal torture in hell if we don’t subscribe to their ideas. Would David Whiteis rather have our spiritual desires catered to by the likes of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Cardinal Bernardin–the religious equivalents of the “unbridled corporate power” he decried?
As a religious-studies major in college, I’m used to hearing insipid comments made about contemporary or “New Age” spirituality, but David Whiteis’s contradictions are a classic example of philosophical ineptitude. The New Age movement exists because the anthropomorphic God of the mainstream American religions is dissatisfying to many people and also because the availability of spiritualities from around the world has rapidly created many new hybrid forms and syncretic variations. For David Whiteis to not recognize its importance in the history of religious ideas is proof enough that he is not qualified to even discuss the matter, let alone pass judgment on those who disseminate such information, of which New Dimensions is an admirable example.