animal rights theorists in the mid-70’s,nsanity in the animal protectionist communitynwent out the window, followingnimmediately upon the vanishing heelsnof philosophy itself. Nineteen seventyfivensaw the publication of Peter Singer’snAnimal Liberation: A New Ethics for OurnTreatment of Animals, which was rapidlynaccepted as the bible of the animalnrights movement and has sold hundredsnof thousands of copies. The creation ofnan “ideology” of animal liberation lednto the eclipse of moderate organizationsnby fanatical ones like the Animal LiberationnFront, which employs terrorist tacticsnto rescue lab animals, and Peoplenfor the Ethical Treatment of Animals,nwhose co-founder, Ingrid Newkirk, is notoriousnfor her complaint that, “Six millionnpeople died in concentration camps,nbut six billion broiler chickens will dienthis year in slaughterhouses,” as well asnfor the profound moral assertion that,n”A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” Animalnrightists attack environmentalists forntheir concern with the welfare of speciesnover the plight of individuals within thenspecies, which Tom Regan—Professornof Philosophy at North Carolina StatenUniversity and the author of The Casenfor Animal Rights—condemns as annexample of “environmental fascism.”nThey oppose the ownership of pets, thenkeeping of animals in zoos, their use inncircuses, rodeos, and other kinds of “exploitive”nand “frivolous” human activity,nand—of course—hunting. They arenstrict vegetarians, and call for laws prohibitingnthe consumption of meat by societynat large. Many, if not most, ofnthem find it easier to love an animalnthan another human being.nNelkin and Jasper speculate that annecessary condition for the emergencenof the animal rights movement is thenextreme urbanization of modern society,nin which the great majority of people,nliving at a remove from the naturalnworld, are tempted to anthropomorphizenanimals and to sentimentalize animalityn36/CHRONICLESnitself. While urbanization is undoubtedlyna factor, so complete an abandonmentnof reality must have its cause innsome blight upon the human spirit morendreadful even than New York City. Animalnrights freaks are said by investigatingnsociologists to be “educated,” a factnthat prompts the question, “Educatednin what?”nThe modern world, as FlannerynO’Connor showed again and again innher work, is both terrible and comic; it isnalso, as she clearly saw, pathetic. In anreference to what she called “do-it-yourselfnreligion,” she put her finger square-n. ly on the final cause of the terribly comicnand the comically terrible. “We arenall,” she wrote, “the Poor”; and we arenbecoming, in increasing numbers, thenFreaks as well. What, after all, could benmore freakish than a civilization resolvednto turn its back on a four-thousand-yearoldntradition capable of providing it withnthe truth it so desperately craves, in ordernto embrace the do-it-yourself cosmologiesnof an assortment of TV hostsnand state university professors? Andnwhat more pathetic than human beingsnchoosing animal love over human love,nfrom fear of being made to face thentruth that only human love reveals?nChilton Williamson, ]r. is senior editornfor books at Chronicles.nStrange Daysnby Gregory McNameenHeaven on Earth: Dispatches FromnAmerica’s Spiritual Frontiernby Michael D’AntonionNew York: Crown Publishers;n422 pp., $20.00nThe wide-eyed declamations ofnShirley MacLaine to the contrary,nthere is nothing particularly new aboutnthe so-called New Age, that hodgepodgenof religious borrowings from diversensources ranging from the genuine (Buddhism,ncybernetics) to the quackishn(L. Ron Hubbard, Ignatius Donnelly).nWhat is new—and surprising, in ancreepy sort of way—is the number ofnAmericans who now profess some sortnof affiliation with the New Age. Accordingnto a recent study by sociologistsnat the University of California at SantannnBarbara, 42 million customers are beingnserved regularly in the New Age cafeterianof beliefs. If organized into a singlengroup, they would constitute the nation’snthird most populous church.nThe foundation of this New Age isncenturies old. Reinforced by the Americanntradition of religious dissent, itndraws on charismatic Christian fundamentalismnand the spirit-medium beliefsnof certain evangelical sects foundednin the last two centuries. In deference tonthe anti-Western tenor of the 1960’s, itnborrows even more heavily from classicalnAsian religions, twisting themnenough to offend any purist’s sensibilities.n(Jamie Lee Curtis to Kevin Kline innthe movie A Fish Called Wanda: “Thencentral message of Buddhism is not ‘Everynman for himself.’ . . . I’ve looked itnup.”) Accordingly, the New Age—ornrather, the manifold variations of thenNew Age—draws in billions of dollars anyear.nThe entertainment and news median(which these days are one and the samenthing) have treated the subject superficially,nexcept in a handful of titillatingncases such as the matter of ElizabethnClare Prophet and her Ascended Mastersnof the Great White Brotherhood, anwacky congregation that a couple ofnyears ago was busily constructing bombnshelters in Montana against impendingnnuclear Armageddon. Instead, theynhave provided endless television specialsnon occultism, like Chost, that embracenthe New Age fad. For that reason alonenMichael D’Antonio’s Heaven on Earthnis welcome.nD’Antonio, a reporter on religion fornNewsday, has spent the last few yearsntracking the New Age in its many guises.nHis discoveries are sobering, even a littlenfrightening. He takes us to towns thatnhave been appropriated by the NewnAge’s practitioners, among them Sedona,nArizona, wrested from the TontonApaches only to be turned into a loopynretreat for the spiritually bewildered;nMount Shasta, California, presumablyna beacon for alien starships, to judge bynits present inhabitants; and Carbondale,nIllinois, where Buckminster Fuller hasngiven way to Guru Mahara Ji. Along thenway, he considers the ideas of such luminariesnas a public school teacher whonburbles, “I feel very connected to thenEarth, to my spiritual self,” and onenLouise Hay, who counsels victims ofnAIDS with the notion that they mustnbe the reincarnated spirits of Nazi con-n