The Celestine Prophecy

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The Celestine Prophecy speaks to discontentment with reductionist thinking and dissatisfaction with materialism (of both the philosophical and commercial sort). It offers seductively rare optimism about the future and human nature. There is the promise of an easy, natural "spiritual self-enhancement", which can be acquired without the structure, discipline and delayed gratification of traditional religion. And perhaps most appealingly, Redfield promises that the strife and uncertainties of life and love in the late 20th century are only the birthing pains of the coming spiritual re-awakening. Questions of existence and purpose with which thinkers and artists and writers have struggled for the last century are here given answers in guileless, direct, everyday language, gift-wrapped in promise of universal attainability and hope.
The Celestine Prophecy touches real, widely experienced problems:
  • weariness of rationalism,
  • ideological disorientation,
  • existential angst,
  • hunger for mystery,
  • mourning for God,
  • the desire for hope and purpose and human goodness.
Redfield indeed addresses important questions, questions with which I sympathize deeply, but his answers are thin and ridiculous. And because he addresses these problems in such simple, easy-to-digest terms, he has captured the imagination of thousands who had never, before The Celestine Prophecy, had their concerns brought into focus and utterability for them. Though I'm glad to know that more and more people are thinking about these spiritual and existential questions, I worry that for every person who is inspired to follow the concerns Redfield addresses to sounder spiritual pastures there will be ten who either will buy into the unsustaining nonsense of his answers or will just be put off the questions altogether.
In all fairness, I must admit that one could do worse than follow the concrete, quotidian teachings found in The Celestine Prophecy: love your neighbor; eat more fresh vegetables; reduce consumption; meditate; preserve unspoilt nature; reach out to people; don't respond to apathy or anger in kind. But Redfield's spirituality, or philosophy, or cosmogony, or whatever it is, is just too naive, shallow and fantastic to provide lasting sustenance.
I'm not bothered by The Celestine Prophecy simply because it presents an easy-to-use approach to complex issues. Any religion or philosophical system should have a shallow end in which people may splash about and get their feet wet before being eased, coaxed or thrown into the deeper, more difficult waters in which enlightenment, growth and strength are truly found. I find The Celestine Prophecy bothersome because it lacks any depth at all; it is a philosophical wading pool, full of children's laughter and sparkling sunshine and bright pictures of pretty fish and piss-warmed water.