Season 1, Surely, You Must Be Joking Dr. Fleming?, Episode 3: The New Age

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May 23, 2017

In this episode of Surely, You Must Be Joking Dr. Fleming?, we deal with the issue of the New Age not just as a silly sideshow, but as a dangerous trap. Dr. Fleming starts by discussing the Renaissance and its two-pronged movement, the more questionable of which set up an alliance between science and magic that perseveres today in things like Gaia and the new global warming religion. Dr. Fleming also shares thoughts on Giordano Bruno, the phrase “Renaissance Man,” and Pico della Mirandola. Enjoy!


Original Air Date: May 23, 2017
Show Run Time: 54 minutes
Show Guest(s): Dr. Thomas Fleming
Show Host(s): Stephen Heiner
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Surely, You Must Be Joking Dr. Fleming?℗ is a Production of the Fleming Foundation. Copyright 2017. All Rights are Reserved.

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11 Responses

  1. Dot says:

    Dr. Fleming: Thank you for this most interesting podcast. You indeed covered a lot of material.
    Regarding the Renaissance period, I don’t recall that you brought up Marsilio Ficino. He wrote several volumes on Platonic Theology.

  2. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    I believe I did mention Ficino, he was certainly in my notes for the show. I’ll be lecturing extensively on the Hermetic tradition at our Summer Schiool. Ficino’s Platonic Theology, available in a bilingual edition from Harvard’s Tatti Press, is his most harmless work. The third part of his book On Life goes far over the edge into theurgy. Ficino can be unintentionally amusing–he advocates contemplating the stars, while playing on a “lyre”–some sort of viola da braccio perhaps, and sniffing various aromas. It’s a bit like Haight Ashbury 1968.

  3. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    Dot, I forgot to thank you. Here is a paragraph from book II of De Vita, which has a discussion of promoting good health through aroma therapy:

    “But let us get back to odors. When you get very worried about too much suffocation and compression of the spirit, which portends frequent sadness and torpor, tell people to scatter odors around the patient. But when you get wor- ried about the escape of exhaled spirit, take the odors infused in the nourish- ment instead. If besides you take any odor externally, apply it as a shield only to the left ribs. Don’t you see how quickly the very matrix flings itself upwards or downwards towards odors?-how swiftly the spirit flies to the mouth, to the nostrils, allured with the bait of a sweet odor? Therefore where the spirit is found either meager or prone to escape, of which the signs are pusillanimity or great weakness of body arising even from a small cause, allure it with odors not so much offered externally as inserted internally -indeed, feed it and keep it. But choose the odor of wine before all others, for its odor exhaling from its nature nourishes the spirit much; while most of all and quickly it nourishes the body and affects the sense with pleasure. Such wine is particularly hot, moist, odorous, and clear. I would say sugar is like this, if it assumes an odor; cinnamon is also similar, and doronicum, anise, and sweet fennel, if, with their sharpness, people add more sweetness to the little that they have. Thus make for yourselves that balance which nature did not make. And as often as you fear dispersion of the spirit, bring to bear the hotter, sharper, and very subtle things, which inhibit a little the volatile spirit and prevail upon it to stand still, as you do by saffron, cloves, and cinnamon, namely: toast, rose-water, rose- vinegar, a rose, myrtle, violet, sandal, coriander, quince, and citron. But I
    abhor camphor when we have to counteract gray hair. But I always like fresh mint, salutary also to the mind and very safe for the spirit.”

  4. James D. says:

    Yoga and Pilates have always struck me as new age “religions.” When I’m asked to try yoga or Pilates, I decline and inform them that I’m Catholic.

    There is a lot of spiritual/occult mumbo jumbo surrounding DD Palmer and chiropractic, as well.

  5. Bagby says:

    This was a valuable and exciting discussion. I enjoyed it very much. I liked Mr. Heiner’s additional input.

    What should one say to a Christian who dabbles in tarot and Marxist ideology? It is obvious that these things are contrary to Christianity, but frankness is likely to drive him away. He may be already falling away from his faith. Is prayer better than conversation about such things?

  6. Robert Reavis says:

    With the destruction and constant public assaults on the few remaining Christian traditions, such as, sin, mercy, redemption, prayer, penance and alms, a lot of Americans have substituted other cults from The East that no serious Hindu or Buddhist would ever recommend as treatment.

    For instance I read recently about Billy Bush, ( the old news reporter and Bush relation caught on tape singing the modern version of “How great “I” Art” on a bus with Trump saved from upteen years ago for the Left’s “right moment” )

    When asked what he had been up to since the notorious contract hit that wounded Trump but didn’t kill, he responded ,

    ” Engaged in a lot of soul searching, a process that included time walking on fiery coals with spiritual guru Tony Robbins and a stint at a Napa Valley healing retreat. He took up yoga and meditation, developed a boxing routine and read books like 10% Happier, written by ABC News anchor and buddy Dan Harris. Bush, the nephew of President George H.W. Bush, also spent more time than he had in years with his family, including daughters Lillie, 12, Mary, 16, and Josie, 18. “It was fun to have his undivided attention,” says his older brother, Jonathan. “There was no rushing off to do this or that.” He’s also stayed in contact with his former Today colleagues; he recently saw Hoda Kotb and her baby and was invited to lunch with Matt Lauer.”

  7. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    Bagby raises a good question. Every age has its goofy attractions even for otherwise sensible Christians. Thomas More flirted with neopagan neoplatonism–quotes some very dangerous people with approval (Iamblichus, Hermes Trismegistus), and he is not alone. Far from it. Democracy was a terrible temptation to many solid Christian minds but so was fascism and capitalism. I begin with the charitable assumption that we are all fools and that most of us are not only fools but sheep content to be led by greater fools and worse scoundrels than we are. There’s no point in getting mad at sheep–or rattlesnakes–though one has to learn to deal with them. On the other hand, out of charity, we also have a duty to point out the dangers. If we are not one-sided–e.g., in pointing out all the evils of Marx without pointing out the equally great–if not greater–evils of Locke and Marx, we can be believed or at least listened to by our friends.

    It is best not to permit oneself to get overbalanced. For example, I have learned to detest so-called conservatives so much that I can be unfair at times, though not to movement celebrities who deserve all the opprobrium that can be ladled out. On the other hand, after roughly 35-40 years of resolutely opposing and debunking Marxism, I have learned that some quite normal people adopt Marxist principles, often on the grounds that they are truly Christian but often, simply, because to simple people it sounds noble to champion the rights of the oppressed. I have a friend I see rarely but whose company I always enjoy. He is a pious Catholic, quite sincere, but also a Bohemian socialist. We rarely talk very seriously about his beliefs, but occasionally I do try to point out that, whatever the merits of Marxism, they have nothing to do with Christ. Similarly I used to try to convince a major British literary scholar I know that his opposition to the death penalty is not only not a dictate of his Catholic faith but that the two are at odds. I do remember, once, walking down the streets of Edinburgh, and him challenging me to cite a single passage in the Scriptures that would indicate acceptance of the death penalty. I began with “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” and went on to murderers, adulteresses, idolaters…

  8. Robert Reavis says:

    Hopefully it’s not how long the journey or all the foolish sins and imperfections or even virtuous acts of charity that distinguish salvation from damnation but something subtler like grace working like gentle rain falling on parched earth before The End. Thomas More for instance was not a saint for writing Utopia or for his false teachings in philosophy. In fact if morality, knowledge and human perfection are attainable without the help of divine grace, who needs God?

  9. Alexander Coleman says:

    Truly one of the most exciting and informative podcasts I’ve ever listened to. Dr. Fleming’s final assessment of how well-regarded Francis Bacon is today was almost chilling. As Dr. Fleming has noted on so many occasions, purported conservatives who believe our troubles began in the 1960s or after World War II or one hundred years ago are among the most sadly deluded.

    A sequel podcast to this, as was discussed as a possibility, would be most assuredly welcome.. Have listened to this one thrice and as stated above, Mr. Heiner’s contributions were excellent.

  10. Jacob Johnson says:

    A common theme one picks up from all the babbling of occult people, lyrics of “psychedelic” pop songs, etc. seems to be an obsession with androgyny. Male energy this, female pillar that. The rollout of the “transgender” campaign evidently doesn’t come out of nowhere. Is the myth of the hermaphrodite in Plato’s Symposium referenced much in the writings of the people who called themselves Neo-Platonists?

  11. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    Yes, various forms of sexual polymorphism crop up in the tradition. Julian was almost certainly homosexual and very probably Ficino, who was the first proponent of “Platonic love.” The better neoplatonists stayed away from it, however, and even the dangerous Pico–a noble youth in many ways–was a skirt-chaser who later reformed–as were Poliziano and Lorenzo de Medici.