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A Letter From the Publisher: Dec. 7, 1987

2 minute read
Robert L. Miller

When New York Correspondent Mary Cronin began her reporting for this week’s cover story on New Age phenomena, she was momentarily dismayed to learn that some of her most important sources were called channelers, the advisers who link disciples of the movement to a spiritual core of the universe. “I had recently returned from nearly six years in London,” she says. “And I wondered what these people had to do with the English Channel.” But Cronin was soon immersed in sessions with a jolly Manhattan channeler named Bob Johnson, who served as her conduit for a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with beings on the stars of Alpha Centauri.

The assignment also included a seminar conducted by Actress Shirley MacLaine, one of the New Age’s most energetic acolytes. “I dipped into meditation, brushed with reincarnation, knocked down blockages, forgave my enemies, hugged strangers, attempted to contact deceased relatives and acquired a large crystal,” says Cronin. Though Cronin had never met MacLaine before (in this life or any other), she eagerly tested her new skills at a believer’s apartment. Cronin and several others gathered around a table with their crystals and sniffed from scent bottles, all the while humming seven musical notes. She did not discover her inner spirit, but she did find the New Age’s spirit of commercialism: a chakra-balancing kit was offered for sale at $29.95.

Cronin, who enjoys reporting on life-styles, is a firm believer in experiencing the style of those lives. For a 1983 look at the youthful counterculture tribes of Britain, she pub-crawled along the King’s Road with punks and piggybacked a 110-m.p.h. ride near Westminster Bridge on a biker’s Harley. In the course of examining the controversial practice of alternative medicine in Britain, Cronin endured a session of vigorous foot massage by a reflexologist, who pronounced her in excellent health. Recalls Cronin: “I awoke the next day with a vastly swollen cheek, which was diagnosed by a standard physician as mumps.”

Cronin has noticed no change in her perception of external reality as the result of her foray into the New Age, but the experience has left its mark. “Before going out on a difficult assignment, I sometimes pull that energizing magic crystal out of my bottom desk drawer,” she reports. “And I concentrate on the key words for the New Age: surrender and trust.”

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