Mr. Kalsbeek is a teacher in Covenant Christian High School and a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church, Walker, Michigan. (Preceding article in series: May 15, 2003, p. 367.)

Eastern influence on Hollywood

Not only is the East having a significant influence on education and politics, its ideas are also endorsed by many on the cutting edge of Western culture: Hollywood. About this, Don Feder writes:

From spirits and reincarnation to telekinesis and the occult, the movie industry is in the grip of a new Age mania.

Consider the re-released Star Wars trilogy … there’s the Force, “an energy field created by all living things” that humans can connect with to accomplish incredible feats of valor—karma-coated popcorn.

…today it (Hollywood, ck) rolls out one piece of New Age schlock after another—Phenomenon, Powder, Dragonheart, Little Buddha, The Craft and the Frighteners, in the past year (1993, ck) alone.

Hollywood loves religion, as long as it’s non-Western. Richard Gere (who meditates with Tibetan masters) and Oliver Stone are Buddhists. Travolta and Cruise, disciples of L. Ron Humbug. Shirley MacLaine clones, like Oscar-winner Jon Voight, are practically tripping over each other.1 

Concerning Hollywood’s influence, Johanna Michaelsen adds:

Saturday-morning cartoons are proving to toddlers that “I AM THE POWER!” They are told that there are “good” sorceresses and Witches and shamans and wizards who have access to untold power, and the telepathy and telekinesis (and those words are the exact ones used) are normal and useful abilities to cultivate.2 (Welcome to the wacky world of Harry Potter. ck)

Eastern influence on business

The New Age Movement is not content with the capture of our children, it would even rule the way we do business. In a lengthy article in Christianity Today, Jeff Sellers provides the following insights:

Visualizing the future, several businesspersons at a Manhattan hotel are acting out what the ideal corporate board meeting will look like in 2012. “May all the decisions we make today be guided by values and by love,” the board chairman says. “Let’s meditate on it. Tune in to your intuition on all levels.”

It’s the Spirit in Business World Conference, where more than 500 business people and assorted “change agents” have come to unleash each other’s inner powers. They will spend three days spurring each other on to positive thoughts at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, a sanctuary from the grit and litter outside. Then they will go to the ends of the earth as part of a fledgling movement to transform the world.

Yes, they’re believers—in human potential. They believe in the power of enlightened business to imbue life with meaning. Many of them, especially their leaders, believe business will help usher in a universal shift in consciousness.

They mean many things by the term shift in consciousness, including the notion that business people should rely less on rational thought and more on intuitive “inner wisdom.” On a less esoteric level, the envisioned business revolution would affirm values—rather than shareholder value—as the driving force of business.3 

In the rest of his article Sellers makes the case that New Age influence in the business world has gone from a fringe movement to being mainstream. He bases this contention on the growing number of books on the subject of spirituality in the workplace, the proliferation of conferences on spirituality in business and the workplace, and the increasing (up to 10%) number of management consultants that include spiritual emphases.

Eastern Influence on Western society in general

Further, the widespread influence of the New Age on the West is so prevalent in our everyday life that it simply cannot be ignored. Consider just a few examples:

An article in the Grand Rapids Press: “Pagan Pride.” This article describes a recent celebration of New Age pagans who in their activities show respect for life and the earth. “The goal of Sunday’s event was to foster pride in pagan identity through education, activism, charity and community, and to show others that pagans are just normal people.”4 

An article in Healthy Living: The use of yoga is promoted as a means for staying healthy. Instead of being used only by the fringes of society, the article states: “These days, the art of yoga—a centuries-old health program of stretching and breathing exercises, often accompanied by meditation techniques—has gone thoroughly mainstream.”5 

An article in Reader’s Digest: “Give Peace a Chance: Meditation for busy, normal people.” This article attempts to give a scientific validation to meditation, and even presents a detailed explanation of how one is to do it.6 

Another article from the Grand Rapids Press: “Eastern religions inspire wisdom in two books.” The reviewer of these two children’s books (Stone Soup, by Jon J. Muth, and What about Me, by Ed Young) tells us, “Eastern religions are the source of wisdom in two folktales.” We are further informed: “Both these tales have been told before, but not in their eastern context with such beautiful illustrations. They are indeed teaching tales with wise words for children. But they are so palatable they’ll feel more like a treat than a lesson.”7

Many other examples of Eastern influence on our society could be cited. One of the more interesting is the connection some are making of the recent craze in the West of tattooing and body piercing to the pagan influences of the East. Gene Edward Veith in World magazine observes that while third world dictators seek what the West has to offer in business suits, weapons, industry, health care, etc…

Ironically, at the very same time, many Westerners—despising or ignorant of their own civilization—are tattooing their bodies like Maoris, piercing their bodies, and cultivating a “new primitivism.” Already, “advanced nations” have brought back into vogue practices associated with the worst barbarism—sexual license, recreational violence, and infanticide. Civilization requires vigilance both from without and from within.8

While on the subject of body piercing and tattooing, it is interesting to note some current development of these practices throughout the United States:

..tattooing and piercing are evolving in ever more radical ways, including mutilation, branding, scarification, and implants under the skin. There is an Association of Professional Piercers, who place steel balls or other shapes under the skin to create a variety of looks, including devil’s horns poking out of the forehead; branding the skin with hot metal; and ritual scarification using a scalpel to slice the face or body. Eric Sprague has undergone intensive procedures in an attempt to look like a lizard. He has implants over each eye for a “horned ridge effect,” teeth filed to sharp points, and even a split tongue. He said the tongue “is the culmination of childhood daydreams and fantasies.”9 

Issachar’s response

How must Issachar respond to these things? Are they just passing fads or do they constitute a real threat to the spiritual well-being of Israel? If one piercing per ear for boys, two per ear for girls, and one “small” tattoo for each is acceptable today, why not three piercings, a large tattoo, filed teeth, and steel balls tomorrow? One person responded to the above mentioned quote of Gene Edward Veith this way: “The most troubling thing to me, however, is the ‘new primitivism’ found among professing Christians who dismiss tattooing, piercings of unusual body parts, and the wearing of less and less clothing (even to church) as just being ‘fashionable.'”

In contrast to this concern a New Age apologist, Dick Sutphen, brags about the strategies that New Agers have employed to make their ideas acceptable to American society.

One of the biggest advantages we have as New Agers is, once the occult, metaphysical and New Age terminology is removed, we have concepts and techniques that are very acceptable to the general public. So we can change the names and demonstrate the power. In so doing, we open the 

New Age door to millions who would not be receptive.10

What is so ironic is the almost fanatic concern by our increasingly pagan society with anything that even remotely symbolizes Western Christianity (manger scenes, Christmas trees, prayer, etc.) contrasted with the West’s ready acceptance of the pagan symbols of our time because they are “cool” or just another passing fad.

Modern-day Issachar should recognize that essentially nothing has changed since the Lord warned Israel of the dangers posed by the pagan Canaanites. As then, so today, “Israel then shall dwell in safety alone…” (Deut. 33:28). Israel has nothing to gain and everything to lose! By accepting the symbols (ying and yang, crystals, etc.) and practices (yoga, tattoos, piercings, etc.) of New Age paganism, Israel places herself and her future generations at risk. Rather than stand with our children as close as possible to the altar of the Baals and Molochs of our day, we would do well to keep our distance. At the same time, by adopting the symbols and practices of the New Age, she mutes her response to those who are caught up in the hopelessness of the New Age Movement. After all, why would a pagan ask an Israelite who looked and acted no different than he “…a reason of the hope that is in you” (I Pet. 3:15)?

Sons of Issachar, let us continue to grow in our understanding of the times and live!

1.Don Feder, “Hollywood’s New Age love affair,” AFA Journal, April 1994: 19

2.Michaelsen 13.

3.Jeff M. Sellers, “The Higher Self Gets Down to Business,” Christianity Today February 2003: 34.

4.Morgan Jarema, “Pagan Pride,” Grand Rapids Press 16 September 2002, D1 

5.”Yoga Moves into the Mainstream,” Living Healthy Fall 2002: 18-19.

6.”Give Peace a Chance: Meditation for busy, normal people,” Reader’s Digest, October 2002: 116-121. 

7.Sue Stauffacher, “Eastern religions inspire wisdom in two books,” Grand Rapids Press, 22 March 2003: B7.

8.Gene Edward Veith, “Saps for Savages,” World, 20 July 2002: 11.

10.Dick Sutphen, “Infiltrating the New Age into Society,” WHAT IS, vol. 1, no. 1, Summer 1986, p.14.9.David Cloud, “Pagan Art of Body Tattooing and Piercing Getting Weirder,” The Christian News, 28 May 2001: 22.