Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History
Jenkins, Philip. Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Jenkins’s study of the cults and new religions in American history brings to light some attitudes toward religion that both accommodated and attacked religions on the fringes of mainstream society. He notes that the term ‘cult’ is strictly subjective, and that “cults differ from churches in no particular aspect of behavior or belief” (18). But the cult problem of today is “the product of cultural and political work, which has succeeded remarkably in defining popular attitudes towards the outer reaches of American spiritual life” (24). On the subject of Christian Science, he claims that the “primary target of cult critics was Christian Science, together with the associated mind-cure movements” (53). Then, in his description of Christian Science, Jenkins joins the voice of the attackers, and speaks only from the perspective of the orthodox opposition to Christian Science. “Most pernicious, Christian Science denied the Virgin Birth, the miracles of Christ, the Atonement, and the Resurrection” (60). This claim is in direct contradiction to Mary Baker Eddy’s teaching in Science and Health. He also mocks the Christian Scientists’ reaction against Cather and Milmine’s investigative reporting when their “worst sin … was to uncover such past embarrassments” as Eddy’s flawed character (57–58).
ISBN-13 (Softcover): 978-0195145960
ISBN-13 (Hardcover): 978-0195127447
See also annotations:
Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America by Gordon J. Melton
“On the Divide: The Many Lives of Willa Cather” by David Porter
“The Standard Oil Treatment: Willa Cather, The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy, and Early Twentieth Century Collaborative Authorship” by Ashley L. Squires
“Theodicy After Auschwitz and the Reality of God” by Stephen Gottschalk
This resource is categorized as ‘polemic’ literature and is included in the bibliography for its historical value. For further explanation, click here.
Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Library or Purchase
- Controversy: McClure’s Magazine (Milmine, Cather)
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- People: Milmine, Georgine
- Publication Date: 1981-2000
- Resource Types: Book
- Subjects: Polemic Literature and Responses
- Subjects: Religion
- Subjects: Social and Cultural Studies