The Spiritual Journals of Warren Felt Evans: from Methodism to Mind Cure

The Spiritual Journals of Warren Felt Evans: from Methodism to Mind Cure

The Spiritual Journals of Warren Felt Evans: from Methodism to Mind Cure

The Spiritual Journals of Warren Felt Evans: from Methodism to Mind Cure

Synopsis

Warren Felt Evans (1817-1889) converted to Methodism while at Dartmouth College, became a minister, and spent his Methodist years as a spiritual seeker. His two extant journals, edited and annotated by Catherine L. Albanese, appear in print for the first time and reveal the inner journey of a leading American spiritual pilgrim at a critical period in his religious search. A voracious reader, he recorded accounts of intense religious experience in his journals. He moved from the Oberlin perfectionism he embraced early on, through the French quietism of Madame J. Guyon and Archbishop Fenelon, then into Swedenborgianism, spiritualism, and mind cure with distinct theosophical overtones. His carefully documented journey is suggestive of the similar journeys of the religious seekers who made their way into the burgeoning metaphysical movement at the end of the 19th century--and may shed light too on today's spirituality.

Excerpt

Warren felt evans is not exactly a household name in the twentyfirst century. Yet in the late nineteenth century he was an idol and hero for an exuberant and flourishing American subculture. Evans was probably the single individual who most shaped the intellectual and practiceoriented direction of what became New Thought. in book after book, he churned out an evolving creed that incorporated mental healing and very much more. in so doing, Evans brought his initial ideas on the power of mind into touch with new ones from a liberal community of seekers, often disaffected with orthodox Christianity and turning, in combinative ways, toward Asian philosophies and religions as well as the mystical heritage of Europe.

But Evans did not simply absorb and reiterate the metaphysical ideas of others. With metaphysics his and their preferred term for forays into territory beyond the physical—territory in which mystical heritages and newly formed religious combinations blossomed in abundance—Evans was himself a religious creator and a quintessential spiritual seeker. a Methodist lay preacher from 1839 and ordained cleric from 1844, in the years between 1850 and 1865 he kept personal journals in which he reflected on his reading and thought it through in his own way. If Evans had journaled before this time, his manuscripts have not come to light. If he continued the practice after 1865—unlikely because of his escalating career as a healer and author—no manuscript records have been found.

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