Is This How The Los Angeles Times Promotes Home Sales?

By: Dr. Ted Baehr; ©1999
Feng shui is a form of divination (similar to astrology), that has become popular in America today. How is it related to the real estate market in America? Dr. Baehr comments on why has America become so open to this type of pagan ideology.


Recently, the Real Estate section of the Los Angeles Times had a front-page article called “Tragedy in Home Leaves Negative Energy: Feng Shui” (6/6/99). This article was a question and answer column which applies pop-Oriental religious concepts to the practicalities of everyday life.

In this column, readers are told how to deal with such problems as a house with nega­tive energies emanating from past events like deaths or violence that may have lingering impact. Feng shui experts are available to “cleanse” the home or purify it. Maybe, if feng shui can’t help, perhaps a master realtor and new carpeting will do. Can bad vibes lead to a deep discount, and a good investment?

The first question on June 6 involved a house on the market where a husband had shot his wife. The feng shui expert, Kirsten M. Lagatree, suggested that the most learned feng shui master could not cleanse and purify the house.

In the column, the Los Angeles Times’ readers are told that locating their toilet in the Southwest corner of their house will drain away relationships (in particular, their marriage!), while locating the toilet in the Southeast corner will take away “your prospects for great wealth.” In fact, the Feng Shui column continues, “there is really no good place to locate toilets in a house.”

This may elicit some humorous chuckles from our astute readers who don’t live in Los Angeles where large real estate companies advertise their connections with feng shui masters, but it is a sad state of affairs for those trapped in these metaphysical systems of fear who don’t know where to locate their toilets after reading the Los Angeles Times ar­ticle.

Having grown up in the home of two wonderful people, both actors, who for many years dabbled in all sorts of superstitions, as many in Hollywood did in the 30s, I am well aware of the power of these fears. One of the top movie and television costume designers would not leave her house for days if her detailed astrological charts suggested that she would have bad fortune on the days in question. No amount of reason would get her out of her house.

The cruelty of these philosophies of fear became clear to me in reading the book, The Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomano Shaman’s Story by Mark Andrew Ritchie. In this anthropological text, a former witch doctor of a previously unreached Ama­zon tribe talks about the fears associated with his polytheistic, animistic faith. He notes that: every tree might contain a bad demon; every problem was a supernatural attack; and, negative demigods needed to be appeased everywhere, sometimes by killing, raping or attacking a neighbor’s village.

We have lived in a society that has benefited from the fruits of monotheism. We have benefited from the Christian belief that we live in a world with a loving God who guarantees that “neither heights (astrology) nor depths” (such as the spirits of the rainforest), nor any of the other fears associated with polytheism, can harm us.

In our safe monotheistic environment, we have forgotten the destructiveness of pagan­ism. Those of us who grew up in a pagan environment understand this. Many Christians dismiss it saying, “Neo-pagan movies such as Star Wars have no impact.” But, those without a clear concept of God search for spiritual reality in the alternative to the loving God who created the world and said that it was good.

Now, in our pop regurgitation of pagan beliefs, we have forgotten this. Thus, reading the Los Angeles Times Feng Shui column made me wonder how people are going to live without toilets. Is this far fetched? Try going into cultures where these fears govern every minute of their lives. For people who do not know better, this is exactly what is going to happen. Regrettably, you cannot appeal to reason with these people.

During Easter time a year ago, 90 percent of the articles in the Los Angeles Times were anti-orthodox Christian; four percent were favorable to other religions; and, 6 percent were pro-Passover, as they should have been.

Why did the pluralistic Romans hate Christianity, which delivered them from the blood­letting in the coliseum and the cruelties of their philosophies of fear? Because Christianity said that there was only one way and took Jesus at His word, that “no one comes to the Father except through Me.”

For those who want to indulge in contemporary religious fancies, that is not a pleasant thought, but usually those who want to indulge don’t think of the consequences: a society governed by their fears.

Maybe there is a hint of a message here for those who make life’s decisions based on the location of their bathrooms, or the magic of numerals on their front door, or the align­ment of planets in the closing day. Yes, do beware of the demons of feng shui, indeed, for you may be in danger of going down the toilet, figuratively, if not spiritually.

Go to those polytheistic societies where people are otherwise intelligent and ask why these societies are not successful. The reason is that their worldview is a self-destructive philosophy of fear, which is now gracing the front page of the Real Estate section of the Los Angeles Times.

Is this some editor’s idea of how to promote home sales? Or, how to destroy the hous­ing market?

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