God Is Energy: Metaphysical America

´╗┐Lately I’ve been helter-skelter considering chakras, tarot, I Ching, William James, amulets, Tibetan Buddhism, the Dao (aka Tao), divine energies, etc. I don’t really buy into spiritualism and the channeling of Ascended Masters (or light beings from another dimension), but when I listen to their proponents on the Hay Radio Network, they always leave me smiling. They aren’t about sin and salvation. They are about peace, love, and affirming the divine already within us. Age of Aquarius, man.

Did you know that the “age of aquarius” concept was coined around 1948 by Alice Bailey, who was channeling the good news from her “Tibetan” about the second coming of Christ (in the form of Maitreya Buddha) to assist humanity out of the mess we’d made of things? Along with other 20th century American Theosophists she was predicting a “new age” as the millenium approached.

I’ve been re-reading a great doorstop of a book called *A Republic of Mind & Spirit: a Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion* by Catherine L Albanese (2007). Quietly percolating alongside Mainstream Christianity (liturgies, denominations, grace, benevolent institutions) and Evangelicalism (emotions, revivals, sin, born again) has been Metaphysical Religion (mind and its powers, divinity within us — “as above, so below,” the movement and proper flow of energies, and salvation through the practical magic of healing and therapy — making wounded people whole).

Metaphysical America includes Transcendentalism (Emerson, Thoreau), Universalism, early Mormonism, Spiritualism, Theosophy, New Thought, and Christian Science on down to various forms of New Age beliefs (including wise space aliens and interdimensional beings). They have a long tradition of co-opting the latest in science and reinventing Asian philosophy to help figure shit out. Thinkers. I can relate.

*Reading this history pulls me in two directions.* First, human beings are fabulously inventive and naturally willing to use ideas from all over the place to fit our needs of the moment. What’s “God” got to do with it? Or, second, that IS God.

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