Indian Shakers: A Messianic Cult of the Pacific Northwest

Indian Shakers: A Messianic Cult of the Pacific Northwest

Indian Shakers: A Messianic Cult of the Pacific Northwest

Indian Shakers: A Messianic Cult of the Pacific Northwest

Excerpt

Mankind has never lacked its visionaries who claim supernatural power to alleviate its ills. Societies everywhere have produced seers and clairvoyants who draw upon their mystic insight to allay the anxieties of petitioners beset with doubts and dilemmas beyond human power to resolve. More spectacular, but answering the same need for security, are the messiahs or prophets who cry out against the afflictions of their people and proclaim a divinely inspired formula for mass relief from frustration and oppression. Such dedicated men with self-appointed missions to admonish and lead their fellowmen have emerged on numberless occasions throughout history and in all parts of the world. Few of them survive the indifference of their contemporaries; still fewer are remembered after their passing; and only rarely do the names of the few come to the attention of men who write books. Still they continue to appear, regardless of their reception, for they are impelled by the conviction that they are the chosen instruments of some divine purpose.

Prophets are seldom honored among a people who feel that they are masters of their own destiny. A social atmosphere which stimulates a spirit of self-confidence is not one to encourage reliance upon superhuman forces. It is only when the shocks and perils of existence are overwhelming that the individual feels the need for something to support his mortal . . .

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