Thursday, April 03, 2008

Oprah-ism

My dear friends,

Thank you for your letter and the provocative news article on Oprah Winfrey and her disturbing involvement in the New Age movement. She seems to have succeeded Shirley MacLaine as the popular effervescent spokeswoman for an ever-changing and up-to-date version of that most ancient error of gnosticism! I do not think it is too strong a description to characterise her as a modern pagan. The New Age movement is a carefully and suavely repacked form of the religion of Genesis 3, the primordial, primeval disobedience of man to the life-giving Commandments of God. Called by many names, at heart it is the heresy of gnosticism, an esoteric religious system which offers to its followers the promise of spiritual enlightenment and escape from suffering and evil through a secret knowledge provided only to the initiated. The popular book and motion picture she promoted last year, The Secret, is a perfectly self-described manifestation of the gnostic error, which teaches that man is in fact divine, or a 'spark of the divine,' a being of pure spirit trapped in human flesh and the material world, to be released and liberated from the prison of matter only through the acceptance of secret spiritual truths which only the enlightened and initiated can possess.

The serpent lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden with the same proposition now proffered by limousine-riding multi-millionaires to unwary and naive modern Westerners: 'you will not die, but will be as gods, knowing good and evil.' The religion of the New Age movement is in truth the idolatry and deception of Eastern religious philosophy, Hindu paganism, redressed in western garb and expressed with very Christian-sounding western terminology. Faithful Christians should utterly abhor and reject this false religious system. Many religions and religious movements embraced elements of this variety of the occult long before the advent or domination of Christianity: one thinks immediately of Platonism in ancient Hellenic culture and its related Persian and Middle Eastern cousin, Manichaeism, founded by Mani, the rigourist puritan prophet of the early Christian era. (Even Saint Augustine fell into the gnostic Manichaean sect before his conversion to the Christian Faith). Occultic gnosticism was rampant in the ancient world during the early years of the Christian Church, and for this reason Saint John and the other Apostles forcefully address this error in the New Testament. Many quasi-Christian and pseudo-Christian cults, now mercifully long gone, practised gnosticism to a dizzying degree of different levels of complex mythologies, and their challenge prompted the Fathers of the Church, such as Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, to combat this heresy - from the second all the way to the seventh or eighth centuries... and even today. The Nag Hammadi library of early Christian Coptic Egypt displays the widespread influence of gnosticism in the ancient world - Elaine Pagels mistakenly claims in her popular New Agey books that the earliest, most authentic Christianity was gnostic, but she is dreadfully wrong. Most gnostics held that 'god' was male and female, an androgynous god-force incorporating aspects of human sexuality into the divine. For this reason most pre- and post-Christian gnostic sects ordained women; some of them, either purportedly Christian or explicitly pagan, even employed sexual ritual and temple prostitution - so that men and women could contact the divine male-female force through sexual union (you should recognise this aspect of gnosticism from Dan Brown and his
DaVinci Code).

Eventually gnosticism emerged as two types: puritan and libertine. The puritan form was strictly ascetic and practiced violent self-mortification and self-discipline, in order that the spirit may be forced to eschew and hate the physical world, including the human body. The Manichaeans were strict rigourists, as were the mediaeval Albigensian-Cathari, who in the High Middle Ages, forbade marriage, sexual union of husband and wife, and the procreation of children. The Cathari even sacralised suicide as the maximum level of spiritual advancement! The opposite extreme, the libertines, allowed their followers to do whatever they pleased, since the body and the material world are of no consequence to the soul which is not meant for the physical world but spiritual freedom and enlightenment. The sex cult version of gnosticism is obviously found in the latter category. I would place Oprah's religion clearly in the second category, for it emphasises the freedom of the individual from all religious creeds and dogma and encourages people to 'find their own path to God,' their own self-deification, a classic gnostic tenet.

This occultic form of religious egoism, the worship and service of self, the desire to become God on one's own terms, takes many forms, but is styled in the Oprah Winfrey fashion of modern, wealthy, comfortable America to appeal directly to the most innate desires of modern people, some of whom are looking for a form of religion without obligation, accountability, or sacrifice - the hallmarks of true religion. The New Age religion is a false Gospel, which offers man earthly happiness and prosperity and the hope of eternal bliss, without making any demands on or requiring moral responsibilities for would-be followers. The fancy shined-up new model of the satanic counterfeit religion particularly appeals to the avarice, self-centredness and narcissism of our current rather debased and materialistic age. A religion of ease, comfort and self for a comparatively easy, comfortable and selfish culture...

The actual character of spiritualism or the occult is most directly revealed by its attitude to our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. His claims to be the unique Saviour and King of the universe and sole Redeemer of mankind though Whom alone we approach unto the Father are immediately spurned and even ridiculed by the gnostic New Age elite. In the pagan system promoted by Oprah's friend's books, Our Lord, although He is not so explicitly described, is held to be an avatar, a guru, a spiritual master, a manifestation of the divine force who comes to bring peace, love and enlightenment. He is kept at a safe distance and transmogrified into a harmless agent of tranquillity and self-understanding, and the way in which that is done is categorically to refuse His true nature and His claims about Himself. In this neo-paganism, you see, there is no God but the individual human being, for the New Age has no god but the personal self.

There is no personal God in a westernised Hinduism, only a divine force, and impersonal 'force-field' which holds together all things - may the Force be with you! - a classic form of pantheism and panentheism, the idea that Creation, the world, is 'god' or a 'world-soul.' The New Age system sees all religious leaders of history, including Our Lord, as manifestations or emanations of this god-world, come to show us the way to true enlightenment, the realisation that we are divine and that our human bodies and human lives, that the physical material world itself, do not in the end count for anything. All of this philosophy is taken directly from the ancient gnostic religion. True enlightenment consists, they say, in loving and serving oneself and finding personal satisfaction, happiness and fulfilment through one's own meditative state, not in being united to One True God, the Father, through the Holy Cross of Jesus Christ His only-begotten and unique Son in the Holy Ghost, the Life-Giver and Comforter.

In Oprah's religion, man is God, a projection of the 'god-self,' and the key to his earthly harmony is to get in touch with, to contact through methods of yogic meditation and mind play, the true inner 'deity' inside. What is most frightening about the religious phenomenon outlined above is that, although its language differs and the presentation is certainly far more palatable, its core belief-system and moral and spiritual priorities are exactly the same as that of Satanism. For example, if one reads The Satanic Bible, an unpleasant task to say the least, one will find in its pages in more brutal and confrontational terms the same religion of self-worship and self-promotion so attractively advertised by the Oprah cult. The goal in both is the same: personal accomplishment through magic, the intentional manipulation of the one's environment through the use of occult means and powers to gain what is favourable to and for oneself apart from God. For both, it all boils down (forgive the pun) to witchcraft.

I guess you can tell I do not hold the Oprah movement in the highest estimation!

May the Most High God, the Holy Trinity, One and Undivided, bless and keep you all in this holy Paschaltide!

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