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Channeling into the New Age: The 'Teachings' of Shirley MacLaine and Other Such Gurus Hardcover – 19 Sep 1988

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Do Insults Really Work? 16 Mar. 2001
By Jeff Danelek - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have just one question for Mr. Gordon: does he find that condescension and old-fashioned ridicule really works in convincing people to abandon their beliefs? I find it hard to imagine but like so many Promethean debunkers out there, they must, as a group, collectively believe it does, for why else do they rely on it with such regularity? It's not that Channeling Into The New Age isn't a relatively entertaining and highly readable work, it's just that I found Gordon's demeaning personality and arrogance tiresome and juvenile. I know he believes he's only attempting to save the ignorant and superstitious masses from themselves-a commendable goal to be sure-but I can't help but believe he's not into debunking more for the sheer enjoyment it brings him. To refute Gordon's work topic by topic would take some time; suffice is to say he takes the New Age "gurus"-and Miss MacLaine in particular-to task on a number of issues, from channeling and the use of crystals to reincarnation and UFOs, all of which has been done before and since by better writers. There simply was nothing new in any of this. While I found myself agreeing on a few points, most of it was just another litany of insults (he especially enjoys working the words "nonsense" and "gullible" into every other paragraph) with little meat on them. His status as an outsider puts him at a great disadvantage; much like trying to attack Roman Catholicism without once stepping foot inside a church or making any effort to understand it's precepts within the context of its own history, it just can't be done on anything more than a superficial level. The New Age movement cannot be attacked the way one would take on an established religion, for it has no set doctrines or dogmas that one must adhere to. The entire idea behind it is that one is free to explore their own spirituality as they wish and pick and choose those elements that speak for them, while ignoring other ideas that do not. I really don't think Henry understands that, preferring to attack it en masse as one would, say, Mormonism. For example, he castigates reincarnation without, I think, really bothering to try and understand it. In one instance, he rejects more enlightened interpretations of how karma works-that as an "educational" element designed to encourage spiritual growth-by declaring that that isn't how it has been traditionally taught (as though ancient concepts can't be refined and rethought over time.) In this and other areas, Gordon talks at great lengths about things of which he knows little, dismisses entire concepts out of hand as "nonsense," again without taking much time to discuss their merits or weaknesses, and generally dismisses all psychics and parapsychologists as con artists, fruitcakes, or-at best-well-meaning but seriously deluded quacks. Of course, Gordon saves his most voracious attacks for Miss MacLaine, whom he seems to admire even while attempting to humiliate her. Not a huge fan of the actress/New Age guru myself, I still felt his efforts to attack her beliefs to be mean-spirited and juvenile. Instead of confronting her philosophy on rational/logical grounds, he instead devotes whole chapters to listing various remarks she has made and then writing some cute rebuttal designed, I suppose, to enlighten us to the dangers her statements represent. While Gordon makes a few good points and does us some service, I guess, in making us aware of the potential pitfalls and dangers the New Age movement-and Shirley MacLaine in general-represent, the general tone of the book is that of a bratty schoolkid who snickers at others who aren't as smart as he imagines himself to be. Good try, but there are better books out there.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Trash 20 Jan. 2008
By Joseph T. Madawela - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is truly a piece of trash. The only saving grace is that it is funny but save your money and see "South park" (Go Butters!). If you want a good instructive book, then read this:
Sage-ing While Age-ing
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
THE 'NEW AGE' IS PAST 17 Sept. 2010
By James L. Park - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Henry Gordon
Channeling into the New Age:
The "Teachings" of Shirley MacLaine and other Such Gurus

(Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1988) 198 pages

A breezy, popular critique of "New Age" beliefs by a journalist and skeptic,
who is often called upon to confront "New Age" gurus in the media.
Gordon deals with crystals, channeling, etc.
The second half is devoted
specifically to the life and 'teachings' of Shirley MacLaine.

Other books critial of "new age" thinking will be found on a bibliography
on the Internet, which can be located by using the following search term:

James Leonard Park, skeptic.
3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Sardonic...but Shirle, you brought it on yourself! 29 Nov. 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Shirley MacLaine, while talented as an actress, has certainly made a name for herself. She's made some of the most absurd statements in history, especially that we are all God. Comforting, huh? And, because she's a public figure, she's known to have made them. I mean, it's not like "my sister's friend's cousin told my uncle..." i.e., scuttlebutt. And she's written it! People actually buy her books on her communication with the great beyond. And they pay a fortune for her seminars; the book refers to an estimate of $4 million she grosses from one of her tours.
Has Shirley toned down? It's irrelevant to the book which was written in the late 1980s.
Overall I like the structure of the book. The author attempts to define the "New Age" and describe its motives. I think there's more to be said than he does about that "New Age," but he adds a shade or two to it that I hadn't thought off, notably that its tendency to provide quick and easy answers is a sign of our times. He then covers many of Shirley's statements, and those of other gurus, e.g., J.Z. Knight, channeler of Ramtha, whose words of the wisdom of some 35,000 years ago I long for to guide me through these troubled times. He even covers WHY belief in such nonsense is dangerous--and that's something many of the books do little of.
And MacLaine reveals an irony: The author refers to her liberal political action, e.g., her participation in McGovern's campaign (1972) and her opposition to the Vietnam Warm. But I see her New Age pronouncements as the ultimate in conservatism: Your condition you brought to yourself (karma, or a dozen other concepts depending on the country/religion). That must be comforting to her and to the people who pay her thousands for a weekend seminar on how to be no less than God.
Gordon reviews many of MacLaine's statements. And they speak--or don't speak--for themselves. People who complain of the cynical nature of the book need only read those utterly meaningless statements. And one of the final chapters is on the crossover between science and the mystical. Shirley, for example, frequently nonquotes Albert Einstein. She, like that other guru not covered in the book, Deepak Chopra, frequently refers to "quantum" physics--while laughably understanding NOTHING about the subject. However, the sardonic nature of the text makes it more appropriate to those already skeptical of MacLaine and other such gurus. While I'm not confident that a more reasoned, scientific, or even educational text will convince those who believe in MacLaine's absurdities to reject or at least challenge them, it may help us all argue more effectively with those who do subscribe to her flatulence.
The book is fun, but not one I would use for a course, say, in critical thinking.
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