Fits, Trances, and Visions: Experiencing Religion and Explaining Experience from Wesley to James
Taves, Ann. Fits, Trances, and Visions: Experiencing Religion and Explaining Experience from Wesley to James. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.
Taves’s work is a study of religious experience in three periods of American history with a focus on the distinction between ‘authentic’ and ‘false’ religion, or the difference between the indwelling Spirit of God and a lively imagination. The third period, 1886–1910, includes Phineas P. Quimby, theosophy, Spiritualism, Christian Science, and New Thought. Since Taves’s interest lies in the role of consciousness in religion, she captures the crucial nuances that distinguish these metaphysical religions. For instance, she notes that while Quimby was skeptical of Spiritualist claims, his healing practices derived from the mesmeric tradition. Mary Baker Eddy rejected Spiritualism and animal magnetism outright. Also, New Thought enhanced the psychological orientation from Quimby and occupied a middle ground between Christian Science and theosophy (212). Although Eddy was a patient and student of Quimby’s, Taves identifies the crucial distinction between them through Eddy’s differentiation of spirit from matter, ‘immortal Mind’ from ‘mortal mind,’ and ‘spiritual sense’ from ‘personal sense.’ Quimby valued both states simultaneously whereas Eddy held them in complete opposition (213). Evans, another student of Quimby’s, built on the compatibility of the supersensible realm with naturalistic psychology, and again Eddy rejected this by linking authentic religious experience to special revelation rather than natural psychological abilities (218).
ISBN-13 (Softcover): 978-0691010243
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