The Edmonton Journal
In August, during a family holiday on the Mexican Riviera, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, went through a "rebirthing ritual."
According to a report in the Dec. 15 edition of the Times of London, the Blairs stayed at the very swanky Maroma Hotel near Cancun, where rooms fetch as much as $1,800 Cdn a night. While there, they underwent the hybrid New Age/Mayan ceremony.
Dressed only in bathing suits, Britain's first couple stood outside a brick pyramid on the hotel's grounds and bowed toward each point of the compass while chanting to each of the four winds.
The spiritual leader of the ceremony encouraged them "to feel at one with Mother Earth," the Times reported, and to "experience inner feelings and visions."
The Blairs then moved around the outside of the pyramid, one fašade at a time, praying first to the Mayan symbols of the sun and baby lizards, signifying spring and childhood. They then prayed to another wall, on which a bird was painted, representing adolescence, summer and freedom. One a third was a crab for maturity and autumn, and finally a serpent for winter and transformation.
Moving inside, Tony and Cherie immersed themselves in the herb-infused mist of a Mayan steam bath to sweat the physical and spiritual impurities from their bodies and to "balance their energy flow."
Mayan holy songs were incanted as they meditated and attempted to conjure up visions of animals in the steamy air. The celebrant explained the meaning of each of their hallucinations.
Before emerging from the pyramid, the Blairs were instructed to give voice to their hopes and fears (they said a prayer for world peace), and then undergo a "rebirth."
This involved smearing one another with papaya and watermelon, then with mud from the Mayan jungle outside, the Times explained.
Finally, while exiting the womb-door of the pyramid, "the Blairs were told to scream out loud to signify the pain" of birth. They then walked hand-in-hand to the beach for a dip in the Caribbean.
I'm sorry. I know we live in a non-judgmental age in which no one's spiritual practices and beliefs are to be pronounced better or worse than those of any other (more on this in a minute), but this is just downright flaky. It is not just the antithesis of Christianity, but antipodal to the beliefs of all the world's major monotheistic religions, Judaism and Islam as well.
It's just kooky. Any visions or spiritual ecstasy the Blairs experienced were psychosomatic, created by their own brains from their imaginations because of their need to say they saw something.
Mrs. Blair is said to be a devotee of all sorts of similar (and similarly goofy) alternative therapies and spiritualisms. She is said to wear a "bio-electric shield" pendant filled with "magic crystals" to absorb the negative radiation of cellphones and computer terminals. She studies with a New Age guru and officially opened a holistic medical centre in November.
Hillary Clinton, of course, while her husband Bill was President of the United States, famously met on numerous occasions in a conservatory at the White House with a mystic who helped her channel the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Aline Chretien, the wife of our own prime minister, was so devoted to the advice of psychic Jo-Jo Savard, that she once wrote a testimonial letter that figured prominently in television ads for Savard's psychic hotline.
And, lest you think I am picking only on the wives of liberal politicians, Nancy Reagan, the wife of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, was well known for her routine consulting of a West Coast astrologer for advice on when Ronnie should fly or hold press conferences.
Now back to my point about this being a tolerant, non-judgmental age.
I know I will be in the minority, at least within the chattering classes, for suggesting that the Blairs' enthusiastic participation in a rebirthing might raise questions about his intellectual fitness to preside over the British government.
But now imagine the Blairs had instead joined in an ecstatic, full-immersion Christian baptism. Be honest, would you be as tolerant of them then as you are of their dabbling with Mayan paganism?
If they had professed to have spoken in tongues, as many charismatic Christians do, would you be as tolerant and non-judgmental as you are of the Blairs' hallucinations in the basil and tarragon humidity of the Maroma Hotel's pyramid?
Stockwell Day was deemed too dangerous to govern Canada by virtue of his fundamentalist Christian beliefs; why then is it any different to wonder if Tony Blair is too dangerous to govern Britain by virtue of his New Age spirituality? I am not a fundamentalist Christian. Yet I am curious why nearly every other faith or spirituality gets the benefit of the tolerance doubt, but not Christianity?
Columnist, The Edmonton Journal Editorial Board Member,
The National Post
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