Monday, July 20, 2009

Or They Can Always Call It A Comic Book,...

"Tim Miejan became the editor of a New Age magazine this year. And he found himself smack in the middle of the shifting, fractured New Age world — where beliefs change faster than you can flip a tarot card.

'We are about what it means to be human, in the metaphysical, holistic and spiritual realms,' said Miejan, of Woodbury, who bought The Edge magazine with a partner in February.

As the editor, Miejan has become a New Age gatekeeper, deciding which legitimate beliefs get into the magazine and which are too far out to be included.

It's not an easy job.

Chiropractors want out of the New Age movement. Channelers wonder if they belong at all, and pagans feel jilted. Organic farmers don't want to be near pet psychics. And no one knows what to do with the witches.

For a movement based on peace, love and understanding, New Age looks like a battleground.

'I have customers who completely believe in fairies and will laugh at you if you believe in Bigfoot,' sighed Teisha Magee, owner of the Sacred Paths Center, which describes itself as an 'organization celebrating earth-centered spirituality,' in St. Paul.

Lest anyone laugh at their beliefs, New Agers point to the tenants of mainstream religions that seem bizarre to nonbelievers — such as virgin birth, turning water into wine and rising from the dead.

'Is there a way to prove the afterlife?' Miejan said.

Until Miejan took over, The Edge was 'an airy-fairy New Age publication,' he said. But he is redefining the magazine's mission — and whipping up some Age of Aquarius acrimony.

Miejan favors articles on stress reduction and spiritual quests. He welcomes columns on astrology, written by 'Moonrabbit.' He recently featured an article which pleaded for a halt to construction of wind turbines because of the harm to life-force energy flows called 'prana.'

He says he would include stories about 'nature divas,' the politically correct name for fairies. 'We would never say those do not exist. We are one of the forums where people can share those ideas,' he said.

But even Miejan's open mind sometimes snaps shut.

Channelers — people possessed by spirits of the dead — are out. So is the belief that reptile-like aliens have taken over the bodies of celebrities, including Queen Elizabeth and — according to one Web site — former Minnesota U.S. Rep. Bill Luther.

Paganism? Out.

'I am not saying that because paganism offends anyone,' Miejan said. 'But it is a complete niche by itself.'

Other New Age leaders are appalled.

'He is excluding channeling? Yikes. Or pagans? He should not be doing that,' said Kathy McGee, editor of the Washington-state-based magazine New Age Retailer.

'New Age is an umbrella term encompassing anything on a spiritual path — Bigfoot, Jesus, Buddha. Even worshipping a frog is sort of OK,' McGee said."

-- Bob Shaw, capturing the "debate", if you can call it that, on what NewAge is - other than a lot of politically-motivated people with severe mental problems - in the Pioneer Press.

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