This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1995, Volume 12, Number 1, pages 112. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.
Book Review - When the New Age Gets Old: Looking for a Greater Spirituality.
V. Mangalwadi. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1992, 287 pages.
This paperback book is arranged in 9 chapters, with a preface and a prologue, epilogue, appendix, and 11 pages of notes keyed to chapters. The author was "born and raised in India" and now lives in northern India where he is active advocating for the untouchables, India's minority population. The book is a critique of the New Age movement which he traces to California, later spreading to Europe and Asia. The book is objective and with much sympathy for those swept up in a sometimes radical search for deeper meaning and self-actualization. He concedes that traditional secular approaches may not fully satisfy these needs. "It is," he observes, "the despair of Western humanism which has given birth to the New Age" (p. 237).
There are specific chapters on astrology, spiritism, UFOs, tantric sex, vegetarianism, and reincarnation. The chapters are easily read and contain valuable information and direct quotes. The book concludes with an appendix comparing religion and science. He offers constructive criticism of both: "Scientism has failed to provide a satisfying philosophy of science, and mysticism is a blind alley which destroys the possibility of science" (p. 272). They are, for better and for worse, all we have as road maps to full awareness and becoming. The author considers the diversity of the maps more worthy of study than mystic unity: "the real marvel in the universe is not the oneness of creation," but rather "why the lone appears as separate entities" (p. 274).
This book is highly recommended as an objective overview of both New Age and traditional approaches. It is provocative but fair to these two major routes to the same destination. It should strengthen the reader's own faith, yet still provide light on the richness and variety of paths to spiritual truth.
Frank MacHovec, Ph.D.
Center for the Study of the Self
Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 12, No. 1, 1995