Friday, October 28, 2005

New gods for the new man

How the cult of the guru puts gullible nation under its spell

They are everywhere - the life coaches, the supernannies, the makeover experts, the celebrity chefs, the fashion police.

They tell us what not to wear, what not to eat, what not to do with our lives, our children's lives and our bathrooms…

…In a speech at the Battle of Ideas Festival tomorrow at the Royal College of Art, Prof Frank Furedi says the collapse in traditional authority figures has not produced a less deferential or more questioning society.

Instead, we are now slaves to therapists and "hustlers" and taking advice on saving Africa from pop singers.

Prof Furedi, the professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury, said the "unquestioning and fatalistic deference" to relationship and other types of experts was coming from the "very top of society".

He added: "It is so sad when you see grown-up people - people of my age - on television needing someone to take them shopping for clothes. There is this myth that we live at the end of an age of deference, but we are entirely subservient to unacknowledged forms of authority…

…The Rev Giles Fraser, the vicar of Putney and a philosophy lecturer at Wadham College, Oxford, said celebrity worship had gone too far.

"We are considerably more superstitious now than we were 200 years ago," he added.

"It emerges in celeb-worship and the feng shui-isation of life. Spirituality has become a make-over term.

"When you stop believing in God, you don't believe in nothing, you believe in anything.

"The point of the Christian gospel is that we find relief from our demons by concentrating on things outside ourselves, whereas many of these new therapies are self-centred."

The Vatican said Catholics would be better off believing in "encounters with aliens" than being sucked into anything that resembled the New Age movement.

Ann Widdecombe, the Tory MP and Catholic who recently won Celebrity Fit Club on ITV by losing a tenth of her body weight in six months, said: "People like to think these gurus' opinions are almost holy writ. Everyone is infallible these days except the Pope."
(Read the whole thing at the News-Telegraph (UK) Online.)

You see exactly the same thing in the USA. Jane Fonda and Barbara Streisand are experts on foreign policy. Leonardo DiCaprio is an expert on global warming. Madonna becomes a prophet for moral rectitude. It would be funny if it didn’t carry with it the promise of disaster. People who know about things are ignored or lambasted as “establishment.” People who make noise about things they don’t understand are worshipped and get free time on the ten o’clock news.

If, after the good he has done for you, you forsake the LORD and serve strange gods, he will do evil to you and destroy you. (Jos 24:20, NAB)

Someone please remind me to stock up on food and ammo.