This past week in Switzerland I heard encouraging reports about surprising experiences among ‘god-seekers’, or New Age folk. You may have heard me talk about ‘Harry Potter and the future of the west’, where I speculate on the phenomenal interest among adults in the children’s books about an English preadolescent who attends a school of witchcraft and wizardry. What is behind the staggering sales of nearly 50 million Harry Potter books worldwide? In addition to indicating a major shift in belief patterns and openness to the spirit world, following the rejection of rationalism and modernity, my shrewd suspicion is that it warns of a future Europe influenced by pagan spirituality.
This suspicion has been fed by a rather bizarre encounter I had a year and a half ago with a woman named Danica who could have stepped out of a Harry Potter novel herself. That meeting changed my ideas about New Age – and about the possible future of Europe. Until then I thought New Age was just a rage that would pass like the hippie era did. I talk more about this encounter in an article which I will send you on request (ask for the Harry Potter article), in which I tell of how I came to the realisation that a very possible future for Europe, and the west in general, was one dominated by a new animism, the worldview of our pre-christian European forefathers. I came to recognise that Danica was not some wierd leftover from the distant past, but was a foretaste of a very possible future. I was not prepared for this encounter – and I doubted that we as a mission, and the church in general, were ready to respond to the challenge of a revived animism.
So last week when I began to hear reports of Swiss New Agers flocking to events arranged by Christians, and experiencing the healing power of Jesus, I was more than interested! Tamara, whose parents Roger and Ursula Langel lead the Einigen base, had me spellbound (woops, wrong imagery!) with stories about special meetings in Lucerne for ‘esoterics’. Late last year the pastor with whom she and her husband work was praying about how to reach such folk. He and others were led to pray in various specific locations around Lucerne. He then searched the esoteric websites in Switzerland to find out what they were promoting and how, and to find key addresses of those he could invite to future meetings. His team then planned a series of meetings in hotel conference rooms, with titles reflecting esoteric language, sent out invitations via the internet and by post, and prayed for God to bring the right people.
About 80 attended the first night, the next 120 turned up, and on the third night they had to send people home at midnight. The evenings would typically begin with demonstrations of God’s power, prayer for healing and words of knowledge. As healings were experienced, the pastor would explain the source of the healing to be Jesus of Nazareth. He has since involved an African evangelist in events announced as “African Power Evenings”. Dressed in his traditional robes, the evangelist would make a colourful entrance, with his audience hanging on his every word, and responding in large numbers to his invitation to receive Jesus. As a result, literally hundreds of New Agers have become believers in Jesus in recent months in this Catholic region of Switzerland.
This was not the only creative initiative by evangelicals and charismatics I heard of along these lines in Switzerland. I was given a brochure announcing evening upcoming meetings and weekend seminars in New Age type language, offering ‘surprising experiences in higher consciousness’, and themes such as “Jezus von Nazareth in der aktuellen Esoterik”. ‘What did Jesus teach about being born again?’ asks the brochure, and promises answers in meetings to be held in several Swiss towns and cities over the next few weeks. (Check out www.alpha-omega.ch)
David Pott from London, who spoke in our monthly celebration last night in Centrum ‘s Heerenhof, reported that the famous New Age community in Scotland, Findhorn, has just invited Christian lecturer and writer John Drane to present a series of 12 lectures on the Christian faith.
Praise God for these bold experiments and new openings. Who knows? Maybe Harry Potter will yet meet Jesus in some future best-seller! Why not pray for Harry’s creator, J.K.Rowling, right now, that she will come to know her Creator?
In Jesus our hope,