Albanese identifies three major forms of religion in America: evangelical, liturgical, and metaphysical, claiming that the key to understanding religion in America is the influence of the metaphysical on the others.She locates Christian Science in a continuum of 19th-century metaphysical expressions from Andrew Jackson Davis and Spiritualism to Phineas P. Quimby and then influencing directly and indirectly a wide range of New Thought offshoots.View Annotation
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Albanese’s study of the meaning and role of metaphysics in American religious development includes magical practices (which she equates to healing), Spiritualism, occultism, theosophy, and extra- and post-Christian concerns such as Christian Science. She distances such metaphysics from Gnosticism and from Ahlstrom’s rubric of harmonialism. But significantly, it has played a key role in the culture of the modern state.View Annotation
Albanese argues that the 19th-century American interests in both physic and metaphysic showed striking points of connection and overlap. American metaphysical religion paradoxically also expressed forms of the theology of nature. But Mary Baker Eddy, a former Quimby patient and student, achieved the greatest clarity regarding matter and mind, given the inconsistencies of the theology-of-nature heritage.View Annotation
Albanese’s undergraduate textbook explains Christian Science in the context of the evolution of religions and the meaning of religion in America. Christian Science was one of the 19th-century new religions that made considerable demands on its members, as new sects often did. Albanese’s theological explanations of Christian Science are based on her thorough knowledge of the American metaphysical movement.View Annotation