Going With the Flow

  As if selling a home weren't stressful enough, people putting houses on the market in Southern California these days have a new problem to worry about. In addition to location and "curb appeal," California home buyers are concerned about how the living room lines up with the entry way, and how the "energy lines" flow. Features like this can make all the difference in whether or not sellers gets a fair price for their homes. If this sounds oddball to you, it's obvious you're not up on feng shui -- a trendy new phrase and a potent example of our post-Christian culture's spiritual gullibility. Feng shui is Mandarin Chinese for "wind" and "water." It's the idea that buildings and landscapes are conduits for certain kinds of energy. Adherents believe that energy can be channeled by the shape of a building and its rooms. Students of feng shui examine the shape of passageways and the colors of rooms. If the occupant gets the feng shui right, they believe, success is inevitable! While all this sounds preposterous, the term has entered the American vernacular. According to the L.A. Times, prospective homebuyers in California actually hire feng shui consultants to help them make the right choice. Some houses even come with a feng shui contingency in the contract. Before putting their homes on the market, I'm told, savvy homeowners have their property pre-certified by the feng shui inspector. I'm not making this up. Bizarre as it may sound to the rest of us, this craze is no longer limited to Southern California. A recent issue of TIME Magazine described the growing influence of feng shui on corporate America. Real estate developers, and corporations like Universal Studios, Merrill Lynch, and Coty beauty products, have all hired the same "consultant" to help them improve their energy flow. An extreme example of the advice they're getting is that of Mitch Landsell, city manager of Gardena, California. On the advice of his "intercultural consultant," he re-arranged his books, eliminated one of his office doors, and he always faces to the northeast during important phone calls. Apparently these people are desperate for something to believe in, and that, of course, is precisely the point. G. K. Chesterton once remarked that when a man stops believing in God, he doesn't believe in nothing. Rather, he'll believe in anything. In other words, the opposite of Christianity isn't atheism; it's superstition, and blind faith in any fad that happens along. This newest craze confirms Chesterton's view. Sadly, many today have lost touch with their roots in biblical Christianity. But these same people still say that they believe in God, which usually means some sort of spiritual order in the universe. Disconnected from the truth, they embrace any belief system that provides answers, no matter how naïve or silly. In Chesterton's day it was seances; today it's feng shui and the New Age. What all this really shows is our culture's spiritual confusion, born out of its abandonment of biblical faith. So if feng shui should come up in conversation with your neighbors, enlighten them about the real source of truth. It could save them some needless remodeling -- and it might also change their lives.


Chuck Colson



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