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malcolm chamberlain

musings about the emerging church, mission and contemporary culture...

God is at large, intimately involved in his world in ways that the church is maybe just waking up to!

generation x-files...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

There's a fascinating article by Stephen Armstrong, in this week's New Statesman magazine, about the growing interest in psychic phenomena and new spiritualities. In the light of the findings of the recent report Making Sense of Generation Y, the following is particularly worth noting...

"Until about five years ago, most of the people interested in psychic phenomena were basically of a certain type," says Craig Hamilton-Parker, who runs the online Elysium Academy Psychic School, based in Stansted, and also practises as a medium. "You could call them the Doris Stokes brigade. They were usually over 50, might well have had a loved one who had died and were very keen to know what was on the other side. Over the past few years, however, we've had so much interest from people in their twenties or thirties who want to use skills such as aura reading, psychic abilities, mediumship and clairvoyance in their personal lives to help with relationships and careers and are unlikely to be wanting to contact and speak to the dead."

These students are part of a new, prosperous, younger generation whose desire for the psychic skills of mediumship and tarot reading sits comfortably alongside a range of other lifestyle choices, such as reading self-help books, going to the gym and dressing for success. Generation X-Files, if you will.

Of course, Making Sense of Generation Y is concerned with what it labels 'generation Y' (i.e. 15-25 year olds) rather than people in their later 20s and 30s, and has a fairly narrow (by its own admission) research base, so we can't set this article up against the report. Maybe what we can say is that whereas the report limits its research field and takes a detailed look at those in its sample, this article gives a broad brushstroke of the picture as it is emerging. Armstrong also makes the point that much of this growing interest in spirituality is fueled by "the gradual rise of psychic television" (programmes like ITV's Supernatural and Living TV's Haunted Houses, Unsolved Mysteries and Street Psychic), so maybe we should be prepared for a growing interest in such spiritual practices amongst Generation Y (and younger) over the coming years.

There is another reason for this trend highlighted by the article too...

The crumbling of politics and religion has helped spur the growth. Kay Stirling, the "Spiritual Journey" tutor, came to spiritualism via anti-Vietnam protests in Australia and radical feminism in the 1970s. "As the movement splintered, I became more interested in finding solutions in personal responsibility," she explains. "I think that drew me towards channelling my energy, and on into spiritualism. You'll find lots of people my age came through that route, but these younger kids are turning towards it because there's no sense of God in a world where people kill each other over religion the whole time."

All of this begs the question as to how we (followers of Jesus, 'Christians', the 'Church',...) are engaging with people who are searching to find meaning in such spiritual practices. Thank God that we have people like Phil Johnson and Matt Stone asking these sorts of questions in the blogosphere, alongside the excellent dekhomai.

The full text of the New Statesman article can be found (for free!) online 'here'.


posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 9:37 AM


Cheers Malcolm. I shall very much look forward to reading this today. Hope all is well with you.


commented by Blogger Paul Fromont, 8:24 PM  

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