find oneself deeply at odds with the message put out by Bronwen Astor in her piece about New Age spirituality (Catholic Herald, 18 June).
Lady Astor's article, well intentioned I am sure, seeks to reassure us that Jesus is not threatened by the New Age in the sense, presumably, that not all of New Age rests in the hands of counterfeit Western gurus, occult healers and dealers, channellers and reincarnationists Jesus cannot, of course, be threatened by any of us, but those who would follow him need to be extremely careful to look behind the soothing depiction of New Age presented by Lady Astor and recognise that the more this amorphous movement has become crystalised into specific religious expression, the more it has had to deceive in order to make up for its lack of tradition, intellectual rigour and coherence.
Some of today's New Age cults are guilty of grave spiritual abuse, which ordinary people would never tolerate except in the altered states of consciousness which intense transformational training and serial conditioning can bring about.
The fact that it is possible to find common ground and warm feelings between value systems that are factually opposed to one another is not an issue.
We all would wish to have dialogue with people whose beliefs differ from our own. Indeed, there are aspects of the New Age movement from green issues to natural healing which are distinctly appealing.
Repeatedly, however, the established Christian Churches have warned of the dangers of New Age beliefs, notably fixation with self and with the occult, and pointed out the crucial differences between such beliefs and our Christian faith.
Christians will know the differences between humility of heart, which is why we should seek dialogue and open ourselves to our own failings, and the spirit of compromise, which can lead is into error: many, like Cardinal Newman, will know that there is a chasm between that which is "pretty safe", to quote Lady Astor, and that which represents the truth as we choose to perceive it.
Esme Howard London