“Introduction: Awash in a Sea of Metaphysics”
Albanese, Catherine L. “Introduction: Awash in a Sea of Metaphysics.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75, no. 3 (2007): 582–88.
Albanese’s JAAR article coincides with the publishing of her much larger monograph, A Republic of Mind and Spirit, and focuses on the meaning and role of metaphysics in American religious development. It cuts a wide swath, Albanese argues, encompassing magical practices (which she equates to ‘healing’), Spiritualism, occultism, theosophy, and ‘extra- and post-Christian concerns’ such as Christian Science. But she distinguishes this kind of metaphysics from ancient Gnosticism, where the American metaphysicians would progress toward the divine, in contrast to the Gnostic devolution downward from the Godhead. She also argues that metaphysics distances itself from Ahlstrom’s rubric of ‘harmonialism’ because Christian Science (as an example) backs away from harmonizing with the cosmos and its sickness, sin, and death. Indeed, Mary Baker Eddy strives to deny death, as death could not ‘harmonize’ with principle and truth. Although Christian Scientists would critique Albanese’s theological analysis of the goal in Christian Science to create “enlightened body-selves” by means of channeling “the inflow of higher power” (585), they would probably agree with her conclusion that “metaphysics needs to be noticed for its public implications and results … it has played a key role in the culture of the modern and, so, the culture of the modern state” (587).
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