Russell Bishop at the Huffington Post, in a recent article, believes that we are in line for a spiritual awakening. His article, “7 Signs We Are Becoming More Spiritually Focused“, gives a list, albeit incomplete, of 7 signs that show we are becoming more spiritual and that pop culture is becoming more spiritual and his reasoning. The list notes:
- The Kabbalah has become increasingly popular, emphasizing various mystical aspects of Judaism, looking at the relationship between an infinite, eternal and mysterious Creator and the finite and mortal universe. Devotees explore the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, along with methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to attain spiritual realization. It’s an interesting comment on shifting aspects of life when you see that mysticism and mystical practices can now be followed via webinars and all things internet.‚ Celebrities such as Madonna, (now known by her Kaballistic name, Esther), David Beckham, Elizabeth Taylor, Demi Moore and Britney Spears have all embraced the Kabbalah.
- Yoga has become available in more consumer oriented settings, ranging from yoga on the beach in resorts to classes offered in traditional fitness facilities. 8 percent of Americans who have never practiced, indicate that they are very interested in learning more. Yoga has been embraced by celebrities as diverse as Ricky Martin, Meg Ryan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Anniston, Jerry Seinfeld, Shirley MacLaine, and Charlie Sheen. Many credit their practice with an ability to remain centered and more at peace in these turbulent times.
- In 2004, What the BLEEP Do We Know‚¸ kicked off a huge interest in the impact each of us have on each other, our surroundings and life in general. Some call it a spiritual marriage between quantum physics and consciousness. While millions loved the movie, the critics were quick to dismiss it as pseudo-science or quantum mysticism. Regardless of any alleged errors in the message, the underlying question did get quite a few conversations going about the nature and purpose of life.
- In 2006, The Secret leapt all over us, as both a runaway bestselling book and a widely watched movie. Heavy weight celebrities were all over “the law of attraction” as a way to improve life through focus and thought (Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, Larry King, etc). Critics again called it pseudoscience and some religious groups thought it more the work of the devil. And still, millions have flocked to it. Some see its appeal as a sign of desperation, while others would say the real secret is as old as the oldest of spiritual scriptures.
- In 2007, The Shack came out with little or no notice, but then in 2008 it exploded onto the New York Times list as #1 for 35 weeks and is still #29 overall for Amazon sales, and #6 in religious and spirituality sales. Well over 5,000,000 people have read the book. Some Christian groups are thrilled, and others see it as the work of the devil. One critic even called it “undiluted heresy.”
- In 2008, Ekhart Tolle partnered with Oprah to launch a hugely successful webinar series that went from hundreds of thousands of viewers to millions virtually overnight. While his books have been around since the 1990’s, something exploded with his 2005 book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. People seem captivated by the notion of creating a spiritual awakening through the transformation of consciousness. For Tolle, these are ancient spiritual messages which have become obscured by overlays of man’s attempt at religious structure or control.
- Dan Brown’s book, The Lost Symbol, sold over 2 million copies in the first week out! While it is a thriller of great proportions, it is also undergirded by an interesting marriage of the noetic sciences and various aspect of religion and spirituality. Amongst its many critics, the book was slammed by the Financial Times reviewer as “a novel that asks nothing of the reader, and gives the reader nothing back”, and further added that it “is filled with clichƒ©, bombast, undigested research and pseudo-intellectual codswallop.” No wonder it is doing so poorly.
He goes on to say:
Perhaps the phenomenon that I think is taking place can best be described in a simple phrase: there is an awakening taking place. For me, that awakening is spiritual in nature.
“Awakening” is an interesting word all by itself. If someone awakens, what were they beforehand? Asleep, of course. But, then, if someone is asleep, what were they prior to being asleep? Awake, of course!
Religion comes from the Latin word, legare, meaning “to connect.” Of course we all know that the prefix, re, means again. Inspiration comes from the Latin, inspirare, with an original meaning to “breathe in spirit.”
Could it be that more and more people are seeking an inspirational or religious awakening, a conscious re-connection to something deeper, something that causes them to awaken to something more meaningful than ordinary day-to-day pursuits?
Could people be awakening to something that connects them (again) to a deeper source, a more loving, caring and forgiving source, one that can sustain a person at a deeper level, transcending the temporal nature of physical world possessions?
My perspective would suggest that indeed, it is this deeper longing for connection, loving and peace that is driving our interest in so many apparently divergent offerings of the last decade. For the truly observant, all of these themes are but restatements of old teachings, perhaps ancient wisdoms, just packaged more for modern consumption.
Of course, Bishop’s signs are not spiritual awakening that most Christians think of. But a spiritual awakening is indeed taking place. We just have to figure out how to point people towards Jesus. That takes more work than just sharing a Gospel presentation. It will be hard work.