What is the meaning of Old Time religion and how does it differ from the philosophy of the New Age movement? Perhaps they are as far apart as our culture would have us believe?
Three religions dominate our cultural narrative;They make up nearly 4 billion out of the 8 billion world population. These are the Abrahamic or Semitic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Because they control half of the cultural narrative, they exert control over people and sometimes the governments where they reside.
The Philosophy of the New Age Movement?
This is a term from the 1970s describing an eclectic combination of spiritual practices. It is better to describe it as the human potential movement. The primary focus of this philosophy is self-development or consciousness development.
But, is the strategy behind this movement really a new idea? No. The strategy behind this philosophy isn’t new at all. There’s a well-known strategy at its core. It’s combining ideas with a common theme to create something new.
You can find evidence of this strategy in several ancient religions. It’s reflected in the stories of Zoroaster, Mithra, and even Jesus, to modern day Sages like Gurdjieff. For example, Gurdjieff traveled extensively in Europe researching practices from a variety of cultures. He took from tradition those practices that are effective. He built his own system renaming and rebranding as he saw fit. Then he set up schools to test and teach his processes. This type of rebranding effort isn’t new. Modern religions use a similar strategy but with a different goal and focus.
What is the Meaning of Old Time Religion?
The term old time religion comes from a tradition gospel song, “give me that old time religion”. This dates to 1873, and the term is used to describe the Fundamentalist Christian branch of the Abrahamic religion.
The bedrock of Christianity is the combination of earlier Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian and Assyrian mystery religions. The makers of Western theology were concerned with creating a cost-effective income generation pipeline. They simply rebranded what was already in place. So, the core of Christianity is the assimilation of religions already in place to create a universal religion.
The strategy of combining several mythologies into one provides cultural reach and control with the greatest return on investment. No need to keep an army in place. Religion is self-policing using peer pressure to maintain cash flow.
Here the focus was on combining systems to sell the afterlife. A commodity with no unsatisfied customers. This provided massive streams of wealth making organized religion war-proof. For example, the makers of the Christian paradigm, the Catholic Church, admit to their assimilating earlier traditions. Although this admission is not a public one. Here’s a short reference from the Catholic Encyclopedia 1907. Notice the content hidden within the poetic language.
The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 14 (1907). Symbolism in a greater or lesser degree is essential to every kind of external worship, and we need not shrink from the conclusion that in the matter of baptisms and washings, of genuflection’s and other acts of reverence, of lights and sweet smelling incense, of flowers and white vestures, of spiritual unction’s and the imposing of hands, of sacrifice and the rite of the Communion banquet, the Church has borrowed without hesitation from the common stock of significant actions known to all periods and to all nations. In such matters as these, Christianity claims no monopoly or originality.
So, what is the meaning of old time religion? It is a cash flow system based on combining the mystery religions of the Mediterranean region. They pioneered the strategy of combining different systems. The difference between the two is the focus. The focus of Old Time religion is to create a scalable cash flow system based on selling the afterlife. Whereas the focus of the philosophy of the New Age movement is on self-development. It’s the same strategy but a different goal and focus.
So, what happens when you create something that competes for the hearts and minds of those in control of the cultural narrative? When this happened in the dark ages, the Church went on a global cleansing campaign. The Inquisition is the name of the organized persecution of everyone who had ideas that threatened their customer base. They could do this in the 1970s. So, they used the only tools it had, demonizing the competition.
Demonizing the Term New Age
The attempt to demonize practices of “human potential movement” is born out of religious prejudice. It’s a ploy to disparage practice which does not align with the Western theological construct. This strategy is effective because the Church controls the cultural narrative in many countries. So, they make the practice of self-development evil because it threatens their customer base. Above all, it’s a strategy to keep their paying customers, and New Age was a threat.
Other researchers of the early 18th like Kersey Graves thought that the light of the origins would be the end of Western Organized Religion. But, they underestimated the power of religious indoctrination. Virtually all the other later sects of the Abrahamic tradition borrowed extensively from what they later demonized as Pagan or Occult heresy.
Religion the Most Powerful Social Institution
Religion still represents the single most influential social institution on the planet. However, not all religions are harmful. Only those that create boundaries and restrictions dictating values and thought. As a result, these are harmful because they adversely affect our ability to reason. Some religions have more boundaries than others.
For example, Taoism and many forms of Paganism have the fewest constraints over freethinking. This includes the new age movement or human potential movement. These systems encourage the exploration and development of your own path. This contrasts with the concerns of Western organized religion. Thankfully, you don’t have to join a religion to engage in spiritual exploration. All you need to is practice the processes. There’s a huge difference between religion and spiritual exploration.
The strategy of the human potential movement of the 1970s isn’t really new. It’s an age-old strategy. We find evidence of its use in the structure of the Abrahamic traditions.
What is the meaning of old time religion? It is the Fundamentalists Christan view that their religion is superior to all others. The main difference between this and the philosophy of the New Age movement is the focus on developing human potential. Western theology on doctrine and dogma to create sustainable cash flow.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s Book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia