Last Sunday morning I attended my first Mind Body Spirit Fair at Lincoln Showgrounds. I didn’t quite know what to expect but thought I’d pop along to see the alternative spiritualities on offer for modern men and women! I felt a bit like James Bond on a secret mission, dispatched by M, in order to infiltrate the ‘Enemy’s’ lair . At least it was in a large air-conditioned purpose-built conference centre and not some volcano, lying off the coast of Indonesia or some other exotic location. The old Christian programming was hard to shake off as I nervously entered the ‘psychic’s stronghold’. The first thing that struck me was that I’d to pay £4.50 to get in for the day! A bit like going to hear a famous Christian preacher then! My neighbouring little Parish Church at Burton village would probably have paid me £4.50 to come to their spiritual feast that same morning.
Anyway, I must say there was a lot of color, sound and sweet smells floating around the family friendly venue. It reminded me of a street market in some faraway land where the people appear to live the colours they wear on their native dress. Yet it was a market, with plenty of items and services for sale. International mediums were selling their ‘contact’ with departed spirits for £20 and the faithful were queuing up. The mediums all seemed to have very spooky, sophisticated names and the look of used car salesmen or saleswomen. Not a George, nor a Hilda among the lot of them.The Tarot cards with their weird symbolism were being dealt casino-like once the cash was flashed , with the ‘spiritual’ croupiers all appearing slightly overweight. Channeling the cards’ messages must require quite a few extra calories! Trinkets of all kinds were on sale from colourful healing crystals and feathered- dream catchers to the latest must buy ‘autobiography’ recounting an angelic encounter. At the cafe end of the complex a group of graceful belly dancers of all shapes and sizes weaved the watching coffee drinkers into a false sense of security with their hypnotically swaying navels. It was certainly a bit more entertaining than the normal Christian event, although it strangely reminded me of the Greenbelt Christian festival held annually in Cheltenham, England.But more of that later.
I stumbled upon an interesting lady there called Alex. Manning a stall of surreal angel paintings and haunting images of Jesus’ face she explained her ‘gift’. Alex ‘channels’ these paintings from the spirit world on a regular basis having experienced a life changing angelic encounter a number of years previously. A graphic designer by trade she’d gone on a spiritual retreat to a Sisters of Clare House in North Wales, despite being a totally non-religious individual. One morning, while sitting in her little room, an orb of light appeared at the corner of the ceiling, before growing to reveal the light filled image of an angelic being. Responding to the message of the angel, Alex took out an old camera from her handbag and snapped twelve shots of her surprise visitor. That day changed her life. Listening carefully to Alex, she must have sensed just a little skepticism in my facial expression. A free gift was graciously handed over – a little card with the image of one of her angelic snap-shots, guaranteed untouched or doctored in any way. It was impressive if Alex is to be believed.I could even make out the pattern of feathered wings in the amazing photo.
After an hour, and totally bored by the sales pitches and ringing of tills, I began to beat a hasty retreat from the soothsayers plying their wares. Suddenly I caught sight of a large Celtic Cross standing beside a relatively subdued stall. Then it dawned on me – I was not alone! Clearly there was another unit of uncover operatives in the building. Hadn’t M been clever! Approaching as a disguised spiritual seeker I quickly blew the cover of my fellow Yeshua followers by asking ‘Are you Christians?’ At first an embarressed look passed over my new friends faces, but then a heart-felt confession flowed like music to my ears – ‘Yes we are’ I’d a great chat with Anglican Dave and his fellow ‘prayer therapists’, respecting them for their courage in getting out of the ‘church’ box on a Sunday morning to mix with the ‘opposition’. A lady behind me was patiently waiting for ‘prayer’ so I hastily escaped to let Dave get on with the business. All power to him, I say.
Leaving the ‘vanity fare’ behind I marvelled at the spiritual hunger out there that the Christian Church is getting nowhere close to satisfying. The two day event pulled in thousands of attendees who probably wouldn’t be seen dead in a church and frankly who can blame them? I reckon though that many poor souls were just jumping from the frying pan into the fire. The Mind,Body, Spirit adherents with their emphasis on the feminine side of the Divine are as religious as their Christian opponents. Oneness is their guiding philosophy but in practice there was some unhealthy rivalry going on there – competition for recognition and for the sterling that they seemingly desire.
Has capitalism turned the search for spiritual encounter and reality into a new growth industry. I believe so. Both Christianity and alternative beliefs seem to have been strangely beguiled. Can you serve God and mammon? Apparently so! Christian tithing and costly faith enhancing ‘resources’ versus the divination fees charged by many of the New Age practitioners.
Jumping into my car I was reminded of a saying of Yeshua:
‘Freely you have received, freely give”