New age newspeak? Speaking up, empathy, and the new rules of communication.

I read this recently as the caption to a picture on a friend’s post.

“My child,” The Goddess said. “When you have to sacrifice expressing your feelings for the fear of the reaction of another, this is hiding your truth and deeply damaging to your value. Your feelings are worthy. Your thoughts and expressions deserve to be brought into light. It is not our job to rule how another takes our truth, that is theirs to figure out and not for us to absorb. You need only to express yourself fully. That is what you are here to bring into being.” ~Ara

I’m really conflicted by this.

Sure, we need to stop being so sensitive. We need to express our true feelings. If we spend our lives suppressing ourselves, our very natures, then we are constantly living a lie. It is important that we be who we truly are. This way we are truly alive.

There is a way of thinking these days that goes like this – If we are honest and real, it gives everyone else around us permission to be honest and real too.

Until it doesn’t.

Being honest and real can scare people off. It can be intimidating and overwhelming. It can be too much, too soon.

Are we supposed to tell people that we are recovering addicts within the first week we work with them? Are we supposed to tell people about the abuse we received as children on our first date? Are we supposed to tell people all of our misfortunes, misgivings, and mistakes?

Is that kind? It is honest, sure. It is real, sure. But is it real good, or real kind?

How much of this new desire to “actualize the self” is being fueled by the old tendency to be selfish and self-centered? We have to consider other’s feelings when we speak. We have to be kind. We have to live and work together as a community, as a world.

If every instrument plays whatever it wants to play in the orchestra, the result will sound terrible. If every instrument plays as loud as it can, not caring about the other instruments being heard, it will be a cacophony. Only when the instruments work together will we have beauty and harmony. Each has their part and their place, and they work together to create something beautiful.

Many people have played small, for a long time. It is important that each person feel able to speak up and share from their hearts. But it cannot be at the sacrifice of other people’s hearts.

New Age faith healing

Several new friends that I have are practicing what is essentially faith healing. But it is New Age faith healing. And they are charging money for it. Something feels decidedly wrong about this. Not just the practice, but charging money.

Now, we have these words from Jesus in Luke 10:7
7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house. (RSV)

But he also says in Matthew 10:8
8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. (RSV)

So are we or are we not supposed to get paid for faith work? In the first part, we are, but it seems like the “wages” are food and drink, not money. In the second, it looks like we aren’t supposed to get paid at all because we didn’t pay anything to learn what we do. Being able to heal is a gift from God, not something that has to be learned.

But then are they talking about God? Do they think their gifts are from God? Do these above statements even apply to them?

I say new age because they do not use the name Jesus or God, or even Father. They use the ambiguous term Source or Spirit. Are they being politically correct, to not offend those who have been turned off, turned away from, or turned out of the Christian church? Is Spirit or Source a more inclusive name for God, in that it isn’t owned by any one faith tradition? Or is it something else entirely?

They all say that they are into the feminine side of divinity, and while I feel it is appropriate to balance out the representation of God that our society uses, I think it is important to make sure we are still talking about the same thing.

At a certain point a definition can stop being a definition, stop defining, stop having a limit. At a certain point the walls of meaning fall down and a word stops being a word and starts being a random collection of letters. They stop being a container for meaning.

Jesus says that anything we ask for in his name we will get. Jesus gave his followers the ability to heal the sick. Not some ambiguous Source, or Spirit, or Goddess.

And where are they, really? Did any of them come down to earth in human form to live and die as one of us? Or are they just stories? If there is no proof, it isn’t real. A disappearance isn’t a murder until the body is found. So a story of a god isn’t real unless there is some evidence.

They will play their drums over you or sing through their drums at you. Why drums? I don’t know. They are using frame drums, and because they are unusual, perhaps that adds to an air of mystery. A little of something unusual helps in the suspension of disbelief.

Suspension of disbelief helps in telling a story. It helps in getting a person to believe that a made up story is a true story. In other words, it helps people think that what they are being told is the truth, even if it isn’t.

But it also works in the placebo effect, and maybe that is what is going on here. Belief in a cure sometimes is the cure itself. Sometimes you have to give people a sugar pill in order to get them to get over their belief that they are sick. You have to “sell” it to them, make them believe that what they are getting is the real deal, or it won’t work. When I say “sell”, I don’t mean money, but money is part of it.

Carny men know about “selling”. They have to convince people of the value of what they are buying. With a normal purchase, you exchange money for a product. You can see what you get. There is no ambiguity. A real, physical object is in your hands. With healing, there is nothing there. Healing takes time. But that is part of it.

People are starting to realize that a lot of healing doesn’t come from the doctor, but from the patient. The doctor does what is necessary to get the patient to heal herself. Some of that involves a little sleight of hand, a little head game. A little suspension of disbelief.

Terry Pratchett used the term “headology” in his Discworld books. His character Granny Weatherwax used it to explain her work as a witch. “Witch” in this sense doesn’t mean that she casts spells or put hexes on people. “Witch” in this sense means wise woman or elder. She had authority by virtue of her knowledge and ability to stay calm in a bad situation. She kept her head about her when others were losing theirs. She said she used “headology”, rather than magic.

Perhaps this is “headology”. But perhaps this is deceit. If people are being healed, isn’t that all that matters?

Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe they are deceiving people as to the source of the healing. Maybe they are leading people astray. Maybe they are leading themselves astray.

Aho!

I’ve recently heard the word “aho” used in several different gatherings. In the context it is being used it sounds like it means “I agree” or “awesome”. I looked it up, and it could be one of two things. According to Wikipedia, it is either a Native American word or a Japanese word.

If it is a Native American word (and the tribe is not specified, so it sounds questionable to me) it means something like what I think I’m hearing. It means something like “So be it” or “Amen.”

If it is Japanese, it means “idiot.”

So I’m not using this word.

First off, I’m not going to confuse people. If they know that the word exists in two different languages and means two entirely different things, they don’t know which meaning I’m using. If they don’t know what the word means, then it is going to be even more confusing.

Neither of these languages are my language. Not only are they not my native tongue, they are not languages I’ve learned and am fluent in. So it doesn’t make sense to use this word.

I totally respect the idea that sometimes there are words in other languages that aren’t in my language. Sometimes you have to borrow a word from another language because there isn’t a word in yours. Sometimes ideas are more fully expressed in another language.

But that isn’t the case here. There is a word. It is “Amen.”

Perhaps people frown on the use of this word. Perhaps people are afraid of it because they are refugees from church. I get that. I am.

But I’m giving up the church as we know it. I’m not giving up the idea of God, and of Jesus.

In the same way I’m wary of people who refer to God as Source or any of any other myriad of other terms I’m hearing. I’m not even sure what they are talking about. I’m not even sure they know either.

As for me, I’m going to keep saying “Amen” and “God”, because I think it is best to say what I mean and not be ambiguous about it. Perhaps it is politically correct to be vague and use broader terms, but after a while I’m not even sure if we are all taking about the same thing when we start using different words. So I’m sticking with the known good.