The Positive Thinkers: Religion as Pop Psychology from Mary Baker Eddy to Oral Roberts
Meyer, Donald. The Positive Thinkers: Religion as Pop Psychology from Mary Baker Eddy to Oral Roberts. New York: Pantheon Books, 1980.
Meyer’s purpose is to assess religion as therapy: as “a cult of reassurance, as psychology of peace and positive thinking” (xii). He begins and ends with William James, whom he calls a “chief authority for mind cure” with his attention to the subconscious (315). In between, Meyer covers Phineas P. Quimby, Mary Baker Eddy, the New Thought and mind cure movements, and the likes of Norman Vincent Peale, Dale Carnegie, Henry Ford and Oral Roberts. He contextualizes these religious expressions, setting them within Victorian sensibilities, business ideologies, the births of sociology, psychology, capitalism as divine economy, the prosperity gospel, and the two world wars. After a brief biography of Eddy’s life, Meyer’s perception of Christian Science is based on very few and dated resources. Today there is available more nuanced and well-researched scholarship, as well as the opening of the Mary Baker Eddy Library, to address the one-dimensional claims made in his book—that Christian Science is a kind of psychotherapy dressed in religious attire —”mind cure’s … tightly organized, exclusive denomination” (39); or that Eddy’s theology relied on Quimby’s notes and her knowledge of New England Spiritualism (73).
ISBN-13 (Softcover): 978-0394510293