By implied definition, we work and write in a zone that lacks unified dogmas and structures, which makes it difficult to be controversial. Legal/ethical issues are not included here. And it seems to be more difficult to say or conceive of anything that's remarkably innovative. The result of stagnancy is the that the market becomes overly dependent upon the same "gurus" who tend to keep amplifying what they've already said before. Are we over-due for a shake-up, or are we in a "good place" as is?
What's controversial is that so many of the methods and teachings of current "gurus" have been found not to work in the long run, that the man behind the curtain has been revealed, and that much of so-called "new age" spirituality is merely a mixture of the neo-Calvinistic Puritan Myth combined with Enlightenment (17th century) ideals of constant progress combined with the Romanticism of the 19th century combined with the 19th and early 20th century New Thought positive thinking phenomena, to create a veritable spiritual stew which promises much but actually delivers nothing of substance. We are indeed in need of a shakeup because much of spiritual writing today is only a form of civil religion, hiding as "spirituality." It is a mere reactive "counter-narrative" to the Judaeo-Christian ethic, and many spiritual writers today (the sort who say "I'm spiritual but not religious") are in fact held captive by dysfunctional forms of spirituality that have existed for centuries--for example, the Pelagian ideal. What would be truly controversial, in my view, would be a book that would tackle that issue head on. Possible titles could be The Flaw of Attraction; the Success Religion; the Uses and Abuses of Modern Spirituality, Hidden Religion in a Post-Modern World; the Success Credo; Success and Spirituality as Pseudo-Sciences, etc. Don't know if such a book could be a bestseller, though, because it would pop a lot of "sacred" balloons using evidence-based critical thinking, and that's not what the "quick fix" spirituality of self marketplace wants.
I do, however, also believe that there are new spiritual voices out there to be heard, but first the worst of neo-Calvinistic Enlightenment Romantic New (Old) Thought dross has to be cleared away. I realize that my view is not likely to be popular in a forum on spiritual writing, but it has been my observation (and my research) that many modern spiritualities (actually old spiritualities in new wineskins) are not working, just as the old spiritualities either did not work or became so compromised by the political/economic power bases which ironically set off the search for something "new" but which really just clothed old spiritual stereotypes in new costumes...."everything old is new again".
Sharon, Your points are valid, but debunking isn't what I had in mind. It would be exciting for some original ideas or perspectives to enter the fray. Any ensuing controversy or debate would ideally be due to honest disagreements, not concerns about intentions or integrity.
Jeff, it's not about "debunking"; it's about doing a bit of creative (and controversial) deconstruction. But the deconstruction would also have to pave the way for new and original ideas to come forward. We live in post-modern times where debate can flourish, and paradoxically such debates will eventually lead to more human flourishing. For example, look at the way Amartya Sen has stood the way we can deal with poverty on its head. Look at how he defines human flourishing. Look at how Stephen Pinker has postulated the ways in which humanity may be slowly on a trajectory of becoming less violent overall. Look at how Rebecca Solnit identified the human spirit of altruism and compassion that emerges in times of great physical crises such as earthquakes and hurricanes in her book, A Paradise Built in Hell. These are the types of voices that need to be heard, the voices that will generate the new debates and the new spiritual and community innovations, but they are often getting drowned out by the same old same old tomes of Wayne Dyer or Neale Donald Walsch, or other current "over and over again" gurus (not that there's anything wrong with Dyer or Walsch...but let's get some of the other more genuinely prophetic voices onto the world stage of ideas and innovations....the kind of thing that TED does, only do it in books instead, to add to the mix.)
Jeff, I'm in agreement with you on the stagnancy of spiritual dogma. In my published memoir I made the statement, "I could have read all of the books on a shelf and not learned what I received through my personal experience." My method isn't new but my experience is real. I was stalked by an earth bound spirit, lost my husband, had a regression to a past life and I had an exorcism. "Love From the Other Side" I would like to know what you think about my novel Blessings.
What doesn't work about these "spiritualities" is the inner process of each individual. The spiritual path is as old as time. It is the underlying mysticism found in all traditions. I see this emergence of spiritual thinking as a desire to break away from man made structures to find the true connection to the Divine inner spark. There may be a lack of intellectualism because people are seeking a sense of connectedness and love that is not found in the mind but in the heart. The problem with all traditions is that they give a temporary feel good experience and provide opportunity for dependence at the expense of a strong "self." The job of the spiritual seeker is far more complicated. These books and gurus are meant to be guidance and tools as the individual walks the path alone.
Readith, People who are in the business are naturally conservative because risk-taking can mean the end of a career. It's safer to keep doing what has already worked, even if it has diminishing returns over time. The emergence of "newness" is often preceded by a struggle.
The stagnation in the spiritual market is due to economics. The publishing houses buy platforms not books. The best thing you can do as a spiritual writer is to stay true to your passion and message but become an entrepreneur. There are many things you can learn on this site. You can share through social media and follow your inner guidance of how the universe wants you to share your unique voice. Follow what I like to call "Blessigns." There are still many avenues through smaller publishers. Trust Spirit that you can be heard and those who need to hear what you have to say will find you one way or another.
Deborah, that's a very uplifting message from someone in the know... this is the kind of "blessign" I constantly look for; thanks for this.
New voices with new ideas are always good. Especially when they can relate spiritual concepts to every day living in their books. Great teaching tools to uplift people.
The only unifying dogma that is best left for this arena of seekers is that of free will. We are in an age when the entire world is about to erupt with a giant sigh. The sigh that says enough is enough. We are so sheltered in this country from the battles being waged in parts of the world where peoples' rights are being stripped. We are supposed to be freeing ourselves from dogma so that others around the world may also be free. We are to lead this effort by noticing the women and men who are chained by their governments and also supporting the natural flow of devastation in the waring nations.
What we are also supposed to be doing is fighting for the survival of the earth. There are no persons in our world of spiritual enlightenment that are in the trenches fighting to save the forests. We have no voice that is supposed to usher in a new world of hope unless this voice comes from the place that originated organic life in the first place. What you are saying, Jeff, is that you are bored. And I don't blame you. Read my email. I think that feeling will go away really quickly.
Sondra, there are people called to fight different battles. That is the beauty of the time we are in. There are people throughout the world fighting these fights. There are many wonderful voices. The internet has given us a great opportunity to find each other. We each are cogs in this great big wheel. Your fight may be to fight to save the forests while mine might be to cofound a Writers network to bring people together to discuss these things. This website is international. We are joining people together to teach them to express their voices and find ways to bring them to others. In my opinion the unifying "dogma" is to connect to one's own Divine inner spark to find authenticity.