Beyond New Age: Exploring Alternative Spirituality by Steven J. Sutcliffe, Marion Bowman

By Steven J. Sutcliffe, Marion Bowman

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Bell). ONS (Office for National Statistics), 1998: Social Trends 28 (London: The Sta­ tionery Office). Oppenheim, Janet, 1985: The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England 1 850-1914 {New York: Cambridge University Press). Pearson, Joanne, 1998: 'Assumed Affinities: Wicca and the New Age', in Pearson et al. {eds) pp. 45-56. Pearson, Joanne et al. {eds), 1998: Nature Religion Today: Paganism in the Modern World (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press). , 1969: Gestalt Therapy Verbatim (Moab, UT: Real People Press).

In this view, far from being a victim of circumstance, and rather more than a merely passive exemplification of wider social trends, the seeker is in fact an opportunist and a strategist looking to turn to good advantage the perceived shortcomings of the day - the structural atomisation, social fragmentation, and de-traditionalisation of this 'age of extremes' (Hobsbawm, 1995). But whether losers or winners, seekers actively - deliberately - under­ mine institutional forms, and this is my third point regarding their significance in the study of contemporary religion.

Bailey set up The Arcane School and over the next twenty years acted as a 'channel' for the teachings of the Master Djwal Khul, which rival those of Blavatsky in their length. From this group have derived a further series of groups, such as that of Benjamin Creme who proclaims the imminent return of the Lord Maitreya, a familiar messianic theme from the Theosophy of the 1920s. The 'I AM' Movement (begun by Guy Ballard) and its successor, The Summit Lighthouse, now the Church Universal and Triumphant (headed by Mark and Elizabeth Prophet) appropriated to themselves the direct guidance of the Theosophical Masters.

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