The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture
February 16, 2003 7:05 PM   Subscribe

The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture releases a document on the surging interest in New Age thought (e.g., Zen Buddhism). They advise that Harry Potter is okay but that Deepak Chopra might be someone to be wary of. Evidently the Age of Aquarius isn't coming so that peace will guide the planets. Bummer. That might be nice.
posted by treywhit (11 comments total)
Since when is Zen Buddhism New Age?
posted by vraxoin at 8:02 PM on February 16, 2003

This is the opinion of the Vatican.
posted by treywhit at 8:13 PM on February 16, 2003

What is the Age of Aquarius.. At the rate of 1 degree every 7.5 years the equinoxes move through the Zodiac. Over the span of 2150 years the equinoxes move through one sign of the zodiac and over 25,820 years the equinoxes move through the entire zodiac and this is called a Great Year. Each 2100-year transit is called a Great Month or an Age. For the past 2000 years or so man has been in the Age of Pices and we have now entered the Age of Aquarius.

The Age of Pices (0BC to 2000BC) according to astrologers is marked by the sign of the Fish which is also the sign of Christianity and during this age the world is under the influence of Christianity.

Now we are no longer in the Age of Pices the Catholic church sees Astrology as a threat since it no longer believes Christianity is the dominat power in the world.
posted by stbalbach at 8:42 PM on February 16, 2003

Since when is Zen Buddhism New Age?

seriously. doesn't buddhism predate christianity?
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:07 PM on February 16, 2003

Buddhism does predate Christianity. It's the Westernized-version of Buddhism (as well as yoga, feng shui, TM) that are more at issue with the Vatican and lumped into their New Age category.
posted by treywhit at 9:29 PM on February 16, 2003

That is quite odd that the Vatican would call Buddhism "new age." As far as I remember from religion class, practice of Buddhism was started around 600 BC. This is roughly the same time that Jews were rocked by the destroying of their temple and also the same Hindu's collected some of their beliefs into written form. Christanity, of course, wasn't started for quite some time.

Of course Zen Buddhism is something recent, but it's still founded on beliefs that go back far earlier than Christianity. I would hardly call these beliefs new.
posted by qaam at 11:23 PM on February 16, 2003

Zen Buddhism is not all that recent either. It grew from China's Ch'an tradition which had developed there in the 6th and 7th century AD. These Chinese ideas took root in Japan in the 12th and 13th century.

Perhaps the Vatican wants to counter some of the vague ideas Westerners have had about Zen, but it's not like Christian ideas are immune from New Agey poaching (e.g. the current obsession with angels).
posted by zadcat at 11:45 PM on February 16, 2003

The "Zen Buddhism" the Vatican is going after is more "Zen and the Art of Poker" type stuff and less "Thich Nhat Hanh and pals", if only because the latter, demanding discipline and religiosity, isn't what most people are interested in.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 11:55 PM on February 16, 2003

The Cultural background pretty much spells out that most of New Age "stuff", isn't new.
posted by X-00 at 1:40 AM on February 17, 2003

The Vatican document does an admirable job of trying to taint every non-traditional spiritual practice they can think of with the "New Age" label. Not just Zen, but everything: Shamanism, Feng Shui, Sufism, Jung, Gaia, whatever.

Of course, many New Ager's do try to practice many of those things at once, but they don't exclude Christianity or sometimes even Catholicism from their influences either. That doesn't make the Vatican a "New Age" institution.

Anyway, I think Thich Nhat Hanh is exactly the kind of Buddhist they'd think of as New Age. Have you read any of his writings on Christianity? Exactly the sort of thing they go on about.
posted by sfenders at 1:40 PM on February 17, 2003

After reading the document, I would say its fairly even handed, and its more of addressing inspirations for New Age thought than trying to define everything as New Age. In other words, both Christianity and Buddhism both are sources, but in and of themselves not New Age. It at one point even comes down that some New Age practices are as diametrically opposed to Buddhism as Christianity. More of combating the term Christian for someone who throws Christianity in a pot along with other beliefs, practices, and traditions than actually condemning. I say it was pretty well done.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:13 PM on February 17, 2003

« Older Space elevator one step closer.   |   I got some Mutagen all over your Michaelangelo.... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments