See also: P.1

As a prime example of "new thought," The Power of Positive Thinking", by Norman Vincent Peale (who credited Ernest Holmes), sold 2 million copies within just a few years .

During the initial years of what came to be called "new thought"; Mary Baker Eddy was working the East Coast, two students of her teacher; Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, Julius Dresser and Annetta Seabury Dresser, made their way to Boston and began to teach and practice there.

For Julius Dresser, at least, the mental healing ministry he now took up represented a decided about-face. Not two weeks after Eddy's catalytic fall on the ice in Lynn, she had written to Dresser for mental healing support, but-in Yarmouth, Maine, working as a journalist-he had expressed a remoteness from Quimby and a disregard for his work. Sixteen years later, however, and living in California, Julius Dresser changed his mind. He came back east and took Christian Science lessons with his wife, Annetta, from Edward J. Arens, Eddy's former student and now strong enemy. For whatever reasons (Eddy's recent biographer Gillian Gill suggests greed; the New Thought account, anger and upset that Eddy was no longer acknowledging Quimby), the Dressers immersed themselves in the work. They did so in a Boston that, by the 1880s, was rife with metaphysical healers, numbers of them former Eddy students. It was this mix of independent mental healers and former Eddyites, often now assuming the generic Christian Science name, that coalesced as New Thought in the decade that followed.1

Exchanges between the Eddy group and the looser mental healing community were generally conflictual, with controversy over Quimby dominating much of the public discourse. (At least this is the story as it was later reconstructed in the nonprofessional first history of New Thought by the philosopher son of the Dressers, Horatio Dresser.) But the healing work went on -lessons, practice, and wider public lectures. So did the work of an emerging New Thought press, with books and periodicals that underlined the cognizing instincts of the mental science confraternity. The Dressers produced a circular in 1884, and by 1887 Julius Dresser saw the publication of his book The True History of Mental Science. The comprehensive nature of the movement's purview was indicated by some of these early works. For example, Mathilda J. Barnett's Practical Metaphysics (1887), according to J. Stillson Judah, reflected theosophical principles in its exposition of metaphysics; William J. Colville's Spiritual Science of Health and Healing the same year expressed his own background in spiritualism with the "inspirational" suggestion of its extended title.2

The Church of the Divine Unity (where Dresser-himself once a candidate for the Calvinist Baptist ministry - had delivered the lectures later incorporated into his mental-science book) became one of the first of the quasi-New Thought Churches. It had been founded in 1886 by Jonathan W. Winktey, once a Unitarian Minister and also an Eddy follower, who would later, in 1900, inaugurate the Journal Practical Ideals. A year earlier, from 1885, Elizabeth Stuart-an Arens student (after he had broken with Eddy) who went on to take a Christian Sience course from Eddy in 1881--:" became the catalyst for the formation of "Light Love, Truth" in Massachusetts and New York. A Connecticut group was brought under the aegis of the organization in 1888, and in each of its locations, according to Gary Ward Materra, all of the known officers were women.3

From its early beginnings, however, the emerging New Thought movement vas national in scope - a reality obscured by the East Coast orientation of Horatio Dresser's pioneering history (with its preoccupation with the Quimby-Eddy controversy) and its shaping influence on subsequent scholarship. Newer work, thought, has told a different story of widespread New Thought foundations, beginning in the 1880s in the Midwest and Far West and spreading to numerous locations. "The movement's heart and soul lay in the western states," Beryl Satter has observed. In a networking pattern that imitated seance spiritualism and, on a smaller scale, Theosophy and that augured the future of metaphysics, New Thought women and men fanned out as independent healer-teachers in places large and small. By 1902, an article in the American Monthly Review of Reviews  claimed over a million followers. If anyone figure could be identified as a major influence on the early phases of this growth, that person was Emma Curtis Hopkins (1849-1925). Indeed, both J. Gordon Melton and Gail M. Harley have read her as the "founder" of New Thought, and although that assessment arguably 'versimplifies the complexity of an act of foundation, it does point to the abiding importance of Hopkins's role. Even in the 1960s, Charles Braden acknowledged her reputation in New Thought circles as "the teacher's teacher.”4

Who was Emma Curtis Hopkins? What did she do for New Thought theology and practice to suggest the titles that scholars have conferred on her, and how lid she do it? Born in a Connecticut farming family as Josephine Emma Curtis, he acquired some education and married George Irving Hopkins, a high-school English teacher, in 1874. Their son John Carver Hopkins lived until 1905, but 'y that time his parents had long been separated, and his father had divorced his mother for "abandonment." What Hopkins had abandoned her husband for ,as the Christian Science teaching of Mary Baker Eddy. She had met Eddy in Manchester, New Hampshire, where Hopkins was living, had listened to Eddy testify to Christian Science, and had experienced a healing that she attributed to one work of the local Christian Science practitioner. After an exchange of letters, Hopkins traveled to Boston, enrolled in an Eddy class at the end of 1883, and by 1884 was listed as a practitioner in The Journal of Christian Science. The same year she resigned from the Congregational church of her childhood to become a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. A few months later she was working without pay as editor of Eddy's journal.5

But the honeymoon period in Hopkins's relationship with Eddy was soon over. For reasons that are shrouded and unclear but that suggest, most persuasively, the 1885 editorial "'Masters of Metaphysics;' Hopkins was dismissed after some thirteen months and ordered out of her (Christian Science) lodging. Satter has noted Hopkins's mystical language in the piece, with the editor-after contact with Eddy's teaching on "Spiritual Being" -claiming to know God "face to face" and thus implying, at least for Eddy, that Hopkins was her peer. Hopkins wrote that she had "realized the reward 'to him that overcometh' for an interval brief but long enough to fix forever in my mind the sweet consummation of faithful endeavor." Others have pointed to Hopkins's friendship with another student, Mary Plunkett, who for a variety of reasons was troubling Eddy.6 At any rate, Hopkins was never given any explanation, and she never publicly repudiated Eddy; in fact she wrote her letters, even after the firing, to express her regard for her former teacher. Still, from the first, Hopkins had been moving to a drumbeat different from the one that Eddy heard. Her earliest article for Eddy's Christian Science journal already signaled her theosophical interests, and her theology would develop in the immanentist and mystical directions that marked New Thought. Hopkins was also decidedly feminist, interested in social-action causes, intimate - especially in her later New York years - with a literary and artistic community, and considerably tolerant of views other than her own. Publicly, she continued to maintain the low profile that made her barely visible in earlier histories of New Thought.

Hopkins moved to Chicago after leaving Eddy, first editing Andrew J. Swarts's Mind Cure Journal and then, with Mary Plunkett, establishing the Emma Curtis Hopkins College of Christian Science in 1886. One report from the 1920s claimed that some six hundred students participated in Hopkins's classes within a year. Meanwhile, the students formed the Hopkins Metaphysical Association, which spawned branches in numerous other places. Even with her teaching responsibilities, Hopkins did not stay home but traveled around the country to offer classes and form further outposts for her organization. For example, in 1887 she was in San Francisco, where she met Malinda Cramer, who later went on to found, with Nona Brooks, the Church of Divine Science. Later in the year Hopkins taught in Milwaukee and then in New York City, where her class included H. Emilie Cady. Hopkins and Plunkett together created Truth magazine as the official voice of the local Hopkins Metaphysical Associations, the national convention of which they held in Boston toward the end of 1887. By the end of that year, according to Materra, the Hopkins groups numbered twenty-one, extending from Maine to California and functioning as the earliest national New Thought organization.7

Plunkett (and her husband) subsequently moved to New York City, taking Truth with them and changing its name to The International Magazine of Christian Science. There followed a period of some cooperation and also the birth of a new Chicago journal called Christian Science, edited by Ida Nichols with much support from Hopkins. But Mary Plunkett's "spiritual marriage" to A. Bentley Worthington (later exposed as a bigamist with at least eight wives)-while she was legally married to John Plunkett- heaped scandal on the New Thought effort in New York. Plunkett and Worthington found it opportune to resettle in Christchurch, New Zealand, and to carryon their New Thought work there. In Chicago, however, Hopkins and her teaching remained relatively unscathed. More important, it had become independent, and, in the context of the upheaval, Hopkins converted her college into a seminary and ordained its graduates, overwhelmingly women. "Christian Science is not a business or profession," she was reported to have said. "It is a ministry."8 Her Christian Science Theological Seminary functioned successfully until 1894, when-fatigued by her efforts on many fronts and by infighting at the seminary-she moved to New York City. She conducted classes and did healing work there, traveling on the East Coast and also to England and Italy. During her Chicago time, Hopkins taught Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, who founded Unity, and during her New York years, she taught Ernest Holmes, who founded Religious Science. Nona Brooks, who studied with Hopkins, co-founded Divine Science with Cramer; still another student, Annie Rix Militz, founded the Homes of Truth; and yet another, Frances Lord, carried New Thought to England. Hopkins's student Helen (Nellie) Van Anderson in 1894 began the self-consciously New Thought group in Boston called the "Church of the Higher Life." A series of other Hopkins students, well known in movement circles, spread out across the nation, bringing the Hopkins brand of metaphysics to numerous local communities.

We get a rare vignette of the Hopkins teaching style during the Chicago years in one news report from the Kansas City Christian Science Thought for 1890' There Hopkins, who was teaching a class at the Kansas City College of Christian Science, is portrayed as a charismatic woman with extraordinary powers. The unnamed author (was it Charles Fillmore, who edited the journal?) told readers: "After an eloquent burst of oratory, the teacher said with a peculiar quiet vehemence, 'God is Life, Love and Truth,' long tongues of flame shot out from her vicinity and filled the room with a rosy light that continued throughout the remainder of the lecture to roll over the class in waves and ripples of what seemed golden sunlight." The writer apparently had checked with others. "Many saw it plainly while others sensed its uplifting presence in the room. We felt that we had almost experienced a modern day of Pentacost."9

Gail Harley, however, has distinguished between Hopkins's Chicago years and her New York period, and the distinction is a useful one.10 The Chicago Hopkins followed the Eddy, gospel more faithfully, although, to be sure, she departed from it in marked and consistent ways. In the New York years, by contrast, Hopkins barely reiterated the basic Christian Science formula regarding the nonexistence of matter and mostly soared into a mystical stratosphere that seemed to reflect direct experience as well as-most likely-Evans, Blavatsky, and similar sources. In both periods, though, Hopkins's material was mostly derivative-one reason why the "founder" attribution seems strained at best-although, as we will see, in at least two ways she did introduce new material or emphases into the theological mix that became New Thought. Beryl Satter has argued that Hopkins attracted people with quite different perspectives because she brought together both Eddy and Evans, and Hopkins certainly did that. Even here, however, she had probably been preceded in uniting Eddy with Evans by the former Methodist minister and spiritualist Andrew J. Swarts and his mediumistic wife, Katie L. Swarts, in their Mental Science school in Chicago. More than that, in Hopkins's work the alliance of Eddy and Evans was far more uneasy than the Satter analysis allows.11 The tensions in the theological constructions of Quimby and Evans emerge from their work as somewhat soft and malleable- cracks in the structure on the order of the now-classic crack in Emerson's Nature. By contrast, Eddy opted for greater consistency and greater absolutism. It remained for Hopkins to attempt a union of the absolutism of the Eddy Christian Science message with the plasticity of the Evans construction. In brief, Evans was theosophical; Eddy was not. Hopkins did not unify their teaching but rather juxtaposed it. If there was a resolution at all, it came only in the New York period when Hopkins's High Mysticism paid lip service to Eddy but mostly spent its energies (and readers') in an impassioned declaration of what, by the mid-twentieth century and after Aldous Huxley, would become known as the perennial philosophy.12

Hopkins's publishing habits made it difficult for later admirers to gather her corpus effectively. Often, she produced pamphlets that constitute brief monograph lessons-almost sermons-on selected themes. Her Bible lessons appeared in the Chicago Inter-Ocean (newspaper) from 1890 through 1898. Other publications include class lessons that she had used in her teachings and her ordination addresses. Thus her publishing history is hard at best to reconstruct. For all that, enough material is available to provide snapshots of the Hopkins theology at key points in her metaphysical career, and these snapshots tell us that through the teaching of Hopkins, gradually Mary Baker Eddy quietly shifted backstage in the New Thought community and a more globally inclusive Evans style moved to the center. This is true even if in later New Thought, as we will see, only one of two major wings of the movement could trace its instincts to the Hopkins theology-a situation that, again, makes the attribution of New Thought foundation to Hopkins problematic.

Hopkins's first article in Eddy's Journal of Christian Science (April 1884) provides already an important clue to the different (from Eddy) cultural world in which she lived. In a piece of eleven brief paragraphs, Hopkins managed to cite "Buddhist Nirvana," ''Algazel, a Mohammedan philosopher of the twelfth century;' Spinoza, Confucius, the Persian "Zend-Avest;' the Chandogya Upanishad, the "Persian Desatir," and the Hebrews. She sometimes quoted from these sources, no doubt as they were quoted in other works- Evans?-she had been reading. Her point was God's omnipresence and the "blessed evidence" she found of "universal goodness" and divine "impartiality" in the manifestation of God "to every people and nation of the earth." By November of the same year, for all God's universality, she was hailing the special manifestation of the divine in the Christian Science founder. Eddy's direct predecessor in giving the world a "system of ethics" with health as its "practical application" was "Jesus, the Christ." And in an apparent allusion to the Quimby controversy, Hopkins defended Eddy in remarkably feminist terms. From "many quarters" came "the bold denial of her right to her own work." Why was this so? "Because it is a woman whom God hath chosen, this time, to be His messenger, and not Jesus or Sau!." Hopkins pushed on to the general conclusion: "But Woman's hour has struck. Who can doubt it? The motherhood of God beats in the bosom of time, with waking energy, today."13

As Gail Harley has shown, the Mother God -more noticeably than the FatherMother God of Eddy-was a distinct (and new) Hopkins emphasis. In a millennialist division of history that echoed the twelfth-century Joachim of Fiore or the later Emanuel Swedenborg with his announcement, reiterated in Evans, of a New Age, Hopkins proclaimed a coming third age of the Holy Ghost. This Holy Ghost, however, was distinctly feminine - identified with the Shekinah of the Hebrew Bible as well as with the New Testament Spirit-and was also a sign of a feminist future to be. The coming age would be a better era than before, and Hopkins-far more than Eddy-avidly supported social reform causes. Meanwhile, her pamphlet essay The Ministry of the Holy Mother appeared during her Chicago years. In it the divine Mother was conjoined to both the Spirit and ministry of God in a mystical statement that was also a declaration about service and about Hopkins's conviction that any adequate idea of God required the feminine.14 Likewise, her ordination addresses during these years regularly invoked the motherhood of God in the Holy Spirit. The Father-Mother God was still in charge, for Hopkins, and was never eclipsed by a sole reliance on the Mother. Still, the Mother received her due in Hopkins's thinking more than the divine feminine ever would later in New Thought. After the leadership of women in the initiating years of the movement, by the early decades of the twentieth century a new generation of women would rise to prominence as leaders, and the Mother would recede.

A second new emphasis in Hopkins survived - indeed blatantly - in the New Thought movement. This was Hopkins's evolving gospel of prosperity, a teaching that may have been related to her own struggle with poverty in the early years of her failed marriage with George Irving Hopkins. In fact, when Hopkins first negotiated with Eddy to become part of a Christian Science class in Boston, she had to explain her husband's indebtedness and her inability to come up with funding to support her educational goals. She worked out a special arrangement with Eddy.15

 Hence, as early as Hopkins's "Ordination Address" to her first graduating class of seminarians published in 1889, she was subtly noticing more than divine healing activity. She saw her graduates among those who were "ministers of the gospel of The Good," and she pointed to the work of Jesus in which "the poor were helped and fed." She linked her class with those who proclaimed a "New Dispensation of the Holy Spirit;' a new order "wherein the poor may be taught and befriended, women walk fearless and glad, and childhood be safe and free." Christian Scientists, for her, declared "the omnipresence of God the Good and deny the presence or working power of any other Principle but the Good." More than that, it was women, linked to the "Mother God" in "the Holy Spirit of Scripture;' who especially pointed toward the emphatic reading of God as good. "Woman's voice - the mother heart of the world," Hopkins told her graduates, was now proclaiming "the omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience of The Good."16

These suggestions grew less subtle in Hopkins's formal lecture from the Chicago period "How to Attain Your Good." Cast in a markedly different frame from Eddy's Christian Science, Hopkins's work began with a theosophical and Evans-style "fine etheric Substance pervading all the worlds of the universe." Hopkins called it "Cosmic Substance" and supplied as synonyms for it "Mother" or "Mother-Principle" as well as "God-Substance." The human mind was "made out of this omnipresent Mother," and the "etheric substance" that "the common thought and word use" was "only a rough shadowing forth of the truly omnipresent Substance." The ancient Egyptians (not the Hebrews) called it "the I Am of the world;' and Jesus called it "Spirit" and a series of other titles including "God," "Father," and "Love." Hopkins herself said it was the "Good-Substance."

She went on to invoke, like a mantra, a repeated affirmation: "There is good for me, and I ought to have it." What did the good mean for the aspiring Truth student? Among the series of explanations, many of them generic and noetic, Hopkins found her way to tangibility and profit. "Everything is really full of love for you. You love the good that is for you;' she told students. "You can make the connection between yourself and prosperity by saying that the good that is for you is love." With God equated with "Love" and "Good," "all things poured down blessings into the lap of Jesus Christ because he knew everything loved him."17 So, apparently, would it happen for truth students. If the New Thought Statement of Being posited Good at its center, it followed that abundance on earth was one result.

In Scientific Christian Mental Practice, also a product of the Chicago years, Hopkins continued to weave a gospel of prosperity quietly into her teaching. Here was none of the flamboyance that would come to characterize the later New Thought pursuit of the prosperous, nor any of the mechanical formulas that would by then accompany the prosperity message. In a work structured-like Eddy's own work-on denials, first, and then affirmations; Hopkins announced to readers a series of five "universal affirmations." Here the first began "my Good is my God," and the others moved in increasingly mystical directions, invoking identity with Spirit, with the "I AM" presence, and with an absence of the ability to sin. With the use of the "right word" and the proclamation of one's freedom, she told readers, each of them would "soon be more prosperous." Scientists should experience neither poverty nor grief, and one of the things they should do was to "talk for prosperity," using the affirmation "I believe in prosperity and success." They should "covenant with Spirit" for support and do nothing for it, because support was "the providence of the Spirit." In a negative example, Hopkins held up one pastor of an English mission who "was very much pleased that he got his expenses paid by praying for them, and had about $14.00 left over." Her unflattering conclusion: ''As all the wealth of the earth was offered him you can see that he was not especially honoring God by having such a little bit at his disposal." By contrast, Hopkins's good news of prosperity was predictive. "Men may gather all the gold into a lump, and say you cannot have any, but by some way of the Spirit you will come out with more abundant riches than all the rest put together."18

By the time Hopkins wrote the material in High Mysticism, healing, prosperity, and similar concerns receded before a unitive consciousness that dominates the studies that formed the book. Evoking "John the Revelator" in a series of twelve visionary explorations probably first published separately, Hopkins's work illustrates why the harmoniallabel is problematic not only for Christian Science but also for a major lineage of New Thought. If the word harmony appears from time to time in Hopkins's discourse, her message is hardly one of "rapport with the cosmos." Instead, a radical immanence prevails in these studies, in which the language of Self-recognition and the God-Self translates the theosophized religiosity of a dizzying catalog of traditions into an American New Thought argot. These were surely traditions imbibed at second hand - from Evans and perhaps Blavatsky (Hopkins at least once referred to the "secret doctrine," the title of Madame Blavatsky's seminal work to be examined next) and similar authors. What is important here, however, is how Hopkins shaped them into American metaphysics. "When half gods go the gods arrive;' announced Hopkins, and she  staked out the required denials (no evil, matter, loss or lack or deprivation, fearful thing, sin or sickness or death). But they cleared the way for affirmations that while they certainly reproduce the health and blessing of New Thought expectation-are something more: mystical statements of divine identity that mince no words and leave no space for human failure. "Highest God and inmost God is One God," Hopkins declared. "Our own Soul, our own free Spirit forever says, in bold faith, 'I am Truth, I am God-Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Omniscience.''19

Hopkins was evoking what I am calling the enlightened body-self, a construction of human personality and life that had been presaged in a vernacular American context as far back as the early Mormonism of Joseph Smith with its message of a divine future for humans. For Hopkins and the new American metaphysics, however, the future was now, and the future was here on earth. If the transcendent had become immanent in this Christian world gone theosophical, where the mystical language of many traditions pointed toward a secret Self that moved the world, somehow the ego-ennobled, transfigured, and exalted, but still the ego - had tiptoed behind the Self. What resulted was not quite the crass and glib formula that has been applied dismissively to New Thought - "health and wealth and metaphysics." What followed, still, was something more tangible, more practical and concrete, than the already-pragmatism of the Hermetic past - and this because it more boldly championed the garden of delight on an earth properly viewed and employed. Beryl Satter's reading of a debate and then a shift from an anti-desire rhetoric in New Thought to a clear language of desire in the early twentieth century surely speaks to the point here.20 The secret and this-worldly history of the Self would be a leading reason why, by the twentieth century, as we shall see, some Americans became interested in South Asian tantrism. And this was why, too, in their unitive consciousness many metaphysicians turned like earlier spiritualists and Theosophists-to concerns about social reform. As New Thought read the script, the soul's journey in the hereafter paled before the significance of a mystical present that could be paradise.

The New Thought Hermeticists were mostly white and middle class, and they linked their vision of paradise to the progressivism of their era. Interest in woman suffrage and a general feminist agenda ran high, as it had for Hopkins, but metaphysicians branched out to embrace other issues and causes as well. In fact, Gary Ward Materra has argued that the Hopkins brand of New Thought represented one of two-divergent styles in the early movement. Materra identifies it as "affective" in orientation, characterized by "emphasis on the Bible, healing, and the needs of families and communities." Hopkins and those who imitated her understood their enterprise as religion through and through. They held to a vision of unity among all things and people, thought about relational ethics, and were concerned, for example, about their children as well as about church building and networking. Predominantly women, they were often feminists and social activists, unabashed in their criticism of prevailing social and economic mores and willing to entertain ideas of social reconstruction that extended, sometimes, even to socialism. A number of New Thought women found fault with capitalism in its unrelieved pursuit of profit for its own sake, even as they worked to improve the conditions of the poor.21

Examples abound within the Hopkins Metaphysical Association and outside it. Helen van Anderson, in Boston, used the church she formed to encourage a Young People's Club as a service organization for "hospitals, reformatories, or private homes," while a different committee brought New Thought teachings to poor and sick people in their own communities. The Circle of Divine Ministry in New York City in 1897 decided to open a room "in the lower part of the city;' so that "some much-neglected classes of its inhabitants, boys and so-called criminals" could be reached. The Denver-based Church of Divine Science staffed a day nursery for the children of working-class mothers, and the church also aided a group that worked with tuberculosis-ridden men without means. Nona Brooks, its co-founder, spent seven years as the secretary of the Colorado Prison Association. In San Francisco, the earliest Home of Truth offered free meals and clothing to the poor through a branch office. The San Francisco Home of Truth also for a time created a shelter for homeless men.23

New Thought people threw themselves into the settlement house movement of the end of the century, beginning a metaphysical version of a settlement house in 1895 in the Roxbury District of Boston. They also moved to riskier public stances, as, for instance, in the outspoken antiwar rhetoric of Catherine Barton and Elizabeth Towne. Nor were analyses of social problems simplistic and naive. Barton, for example, commented on crime and criminals with the observation of shared guilt on the part of all: "We have so constructed our social, ethical, and religious fabric that crime is a natural outcome." Anita Trueman did not think that New Thought, with its prosperity thinking, would by itself cure the condition of a man out of a job because of economic depression. Rather, New Thought believers needed to "readjust those conditions which enrich the monopolist while he robs the people of even the opportunity to work."24 Meanwhile, as Beryl Satter notes, individuals with New Thought ties, such as Abby Molion Diaz and Mary Livermore, embraced the form of socialism advocated by Edward Bellamy's novel Looking Backward (1888), which brought in its train a series of Bellamy Clubs across the nation. Former Episcopalian pastor R. Heber Newton in 1885 had joined Richard Ely's American Economic Association with its advocacy of government intervention on behalf of the disadvantaged but by 1899 found in New Thought a religion that buttressed his politics better than Episcopalianism had. He presided over the International Metaphysical League in 1900, 1902, and 1906, and he served as an officer in the New Thought Federation in 1904. Congregationalist minister Benjamin Fay Mills, with a history of attacking monopolies and praising socialism, likewise became a New Thought fellow traveler by 1905, founding a Los Angeles "Fellowship," which Satter describes as "indistinguishable" in its beliefs and goals from New Thought. Other reforming clergy among Protestants also moved into New Thought-among them Hugh O. Pentecost, Henry Frank, J. Stitt Wilson, and George Herron. They sought, as Satter recounts, the victory of" 'altruism over selfism'" as well as the pursuit of human perfection.25

Ralph Waldo Trine, author of the classic In Tune with the Infinite (1897), was an out-and-out New Thought socialist. But he was hardly alone, and much of his company was female. Indeed, Materra concludes on the basis of his study that "women forged the primary links between New Thought and socialism." Thus Malinda Cramer, who co-founded Divine Science, castigated the "competitive system" as the "offspring of brute evolution" that bore "no relation to the divine methods of 'each for all, and all for each.''' Josephine Conger, who spent two years at radical Ruskin College in Trenton, Missouri, and there converted to socialism, later threw herself into the socialist women's movement. She functioned as its leading editor and at the same time acknowledged her New Thought commitments in the socialist print periodical world. "All the great men and women of the world have believed in what we call New Thought," she told readers of a 1903 issue of Appeal to Reason. Moreover, if a socialist organ such as Appeal to Reason could miss ionize for New Thought, at least one New Thought paper, Social Ethics, was also the official mouthpiece of the Socialist party in the state of Kansas. Similarly, The New Life of Lewiston, Idaho, straddled the line between its New Thought origins and its later socialist testimonies.26  

What was it about New Thought that fostered socialism and a social action agenda, in general? Part of the answer lies in the vernacular environment in which early New Thought flourished - with its historic roots in mid century spiritualism and the reform commitments that came as part of spiritualist social culture. When the cultural turn of the 1870s occurred and a generalized theosophical perspective was born, reform commitments continued to run high, as the official Theosophical Society retoric of the "brotherhood of man" suggests. The Midwestern and western spread of New Thought-to areas less immured in tradition than the bastions of East Coast conservatism - also brought with it a populace more likely to turn in liberal, and radical, social directions. Kansas, after all, had not acquired a reputation as a radical state for nothing. However, beyond these social reasons for a New Thought-socialist and social-reform alliance, the theological vision of the New Thought movement needs to be noticed. A message of divine immanence and unity, of all as children of the one God the Good, from one perspective sat well with social reform for a more even distribution of goods. Put another way, socialism provided a better conceptual fit for New Thought than did laissez-faire or capitalist pursuit of individual aggrandizement, pace Donald Meyer's well-known reading of the "mind-cure" gospel of success.27

For all this social-action agenda within New Thought, however, a second style -one that made Meyer at least partly right-came to dominate New Thought after the new century began. Materra calls it "noetic." In some sense, even this style could be laid, technically, at the feet of Hopkins, because its early representative - with whom Materra associates the noetic wing initially - was Helen Wilmans (1832-1907), who had begun her New Thought career as a Hopkins student. Wilmans, however, struck out on her own and never acknowledged a debt to her Chicago teacher. For her, New Thought counted as a business and a science of self-mastery-she called it Mental Science-and Wilmans used the mails so ostentatiously for her absent-healing business that she spent years in court fighting mail fraud charges (she was acquitted, but her work never recovered).28

We gain some purchase on what this noetic New Thought signaled and how it sat with Hopkins devotees in a revelatory editorial by Charles Fillmore, cofounder of Unity, in one number of his periodical Thought. "Helen Wilmans," he confessed to readers, "objects to my use of the words God, Father, etc .... She says 'Why not credit the power spoken of to man's creativeness and the source of supply to nature instead of God?'" He went on, after the gentlemanly courtesies, to tell readers that a "great deal" hinged "on Words," with their use "worthy our careful consideration." Fillmore voted for a theistic language and told readers why. By contrast, the noetic style of Wilmans and a series of others, including New Thought women Julia Seton Sears and Elizabeth Towne, points toward more secular concerns, emphasizing entry into a "privileged male world as full participants." This style encouraged prosperity thinking much more than Hopkins and the affective wing of New Thought did, and it saw the new ideas as supports for greater self-reliance and business success. Here the individualism of adults in worlds of their own making took the place of a spiritual community at prayer and in service. A social agenda fell away, and so did the Bible and traditional religious discourse, including a felt concern over sin or evil.29 The last chapter will take a closer look at this style of New Thought, especially prominent in the twentieth century.

As the New Thought movement grew and expanded, according to Materra, the majority of the men embraced its noetic version, while the majority of the women identified with the affective style. This division meant that-with so many women in the overall movement-the noetic organizations generally attracted equal or near-equal numbers of men and women, while affective networks were strongly populated by women. Periodicals and monographs advanced the case for each in almost a feeding frenzy of press activity as new literature came and went, and new statements appeared, vanished, and were re-created in slightly different guises. If New Thought put its premium on the word and its power, divinely guided, to change earthly conditions and situations, it made good on its commitment in the written, as well as the spoken, word. Periodicals enhanced the national presence for groups like Mental Science and Unity, even as the travels of Hopkins and her disciples on a burgeoning and efficient rail system added to the nationwide spread of New Thought ideas and structures. By 1905 and the beginning of the middle years of the movement, New Thought could be found in twenty-three states as well as in England, Mexico, and Australia. The states with the greatest presence were New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, and Colorado.30

As the movement grew into these middle years, too, New Thought denominations came to flourish-some like Unity, Religious Science, and Divine Science, to stay; and others, like Annie Rix Militz's West Coast Homes of Truth and Wilmans's scattered Mental Science Temples, to disappear. Ordinations were easy to come by, and-with the movement celebrating diversity-decentralization was a major feature of organizational life. In fact, the idea of establishing separate churches and denominations was quite foreign to this late century-early century New Thought and, as in the case of the Unity movement, was resisted throughout the twentieth century and on, even when all the evidence belied the nondenominational declaration. The children of the one God preferred, despite their obvious communitarian practices, to preserve ideologies of seeking only the God within. Thus, as this sketch already suggests, attempts to organize were fraught with difficulty. Finally, though, by 1914, the International New Thought Alliance was formed. It had been preceded by a series of meetings and organizational attempts, with the earliest meeting that announced itself explicitly as a "New Thought Convention" held in 1899 in Hartford, Connecticut. Thereafter, in Boston, the International Metaphysical League called a convention, and organization - and name changes - proceeded apace. Always, New Thought people aimed for comprehensiveness, reaching out to embrace sympathizers in an erasure of difference that was theological as well as social. Malinda Cramer's early periodical Harmony spoke for all. Its cover page announced it to be "a monthly magazine of philosophy, devoted to TRUTH, Science of Spirit, Theosophy, Metaphysics, and to the Christ method of healing." But always, with the individualism, New Thought ecumenical organizing was tenuous at best. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore's Unity School of Christianity, for example, had only a brief and tense time of inclusion in the International New Thought Alliance, from 1919 until 1922, with Charles Fillmore for many years considering the Unity movement "practical Christianity" and different from New Thought.31

The Reverend Solon Lauer made the case for resemblance and inclusivity at a convention as early as 1889, explicitly naming spiritualism, Theosophy, and Christian Science and declaring that there were "no very distinct lines of demarcation between them." All of them, he thought, shared "certain things in common," and he thought, too, that "perhaps a broad and generous interpretation of each would remove most of the points of seeming antagonism." What he said next was even more telling: "Certain it is that there are thousands of persons who read the literature and attend the public meetings of all of these movements, and who find much to love and admire in them."32 We catch a glimpse of how this process worked in the personal spiritual odyssey of Charles Fillmore (1854-1948). Even with his difficulties with the International New Thought Alliance (suggesting more narrowness on his part?), Fillmore's case is, in fact, representative. His years of religious exploration illustrate how, in an expansive time and nation, the habit of combination nudged Americans to forge out of the Hermetic and related legacies of past and present the metaphysical synthesis of New Thought.

Born on a Chippewa Indian reservation in northern Minnesota, Fillmore grew up in an Indian territory in conflict, with Chippewa, Sioux, and whites all contesting for the land. Besides being a farmer, his father worked as an Indian agent, and from early on that fact must have translated into as much intimacy with Indian culture as a white in a frontier locale could normally expect to acquire. Still more, according to Fillmore's report, when he was six and alone with his mother at the trading post his family operated, a roaming band of Sioux came and spirited him away. The kidnapping did not last a day, for a few hours later the child was returned unharmed. According to James Gaither, Fillmore later said that he thought the Indians had used him for some sort ot religious ceremony.33 How much the Indian haunting affected his later life is difficult to determine, but the early contact with difference would be replicated in the religious quest of his mature years, functioning perhaps as a kind of horizon of spiritual possibility. At any rate, by 1889 and to beginning years of the Unity movement, Fillmore could confide to readers of his new journal Modem Thought that he had spent twenty years in the ranks of "progressive Spiritualists." He thought that spiritualism had "done a noble work in bringing light to the world," even as he deplored the practice of the majority of contemporary adherents. "This majority;' he complained, were "phenomenalists." Their "tendency" was "to materialize the spirit world, instead of spiritualizing the material world." Half of the mediums were "unconscious subjects of some other mind." By contrast, metaphysics was "the panacea for all such," because it taught the "soul" how it might become a "spiritual center."34

Fillmore had gone beyond spiritualism, but clearly he regarded spiritualists as metaphysical cousins who had gotten things at least half right. Rather open in his autobiographical reminiscences, by 1894 he was telling Thought readers that he had been "born and raised in the wilderness of the west" and had obtained only a "quite limited" religious education, with God an "unknown factor" in his "conscious mind" until his last few years. He added significantly, "I was always drawn to the mysterious and occult, however, and in youth took great interest in Spiritualism and afterward, in branches of the Hermetic philosophy." If so, Fillmore was still trying to bring others to the Hermetic fold. As summarized by Braden, advertisements for the first issue of Modem Thought included books and periodicals displaying interest in "the occult, Spiritualism, theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism, and other subjects as well as in [generic] Christian Science." Hermeticism likewise continued to influence Fillmore, for his distinctive teaching on the "twelve powers of man" -based on the notion that twelve seats of (spiritual) power exist throughout the human body - was shaped by Rosicrucian ideas. In another example, the winged globe that became Unity's symbol grew out of a Rosicrucian ambience, when Fillmore responded to Freeman Benjamin Dowd's book The Temple of the Rosy Cross.35

Fillmore never officially joined the Theosophical Society, and the names of neither he nor his wife, Myrtle Fillmore, can be found on its membership rolls. Still, he observed in one article that he had been "a very earnest student of Theosophy for several years;' describing himself as "quite familiar with its literature" within which he had found "much truth." He was also, he said, "personally acquainted with several who are considered in the inner circle of the Theosophical Society in America." He had "studied them carefully, both from the exoteric and esoteric standpoints," and he boasted, especially, of his "near friend," who was among "the first members of the society in America" and "now right in the front of the work." This man had studied Sanskrit for years, had the "sacred writings of the Hindus" "at his tongue's end," and had "developed quite remarkable occult powers." As in the case of the switualists, Fillmore found the Theosophists half right. They were "so loaded up with head learning" and they had so made "of Karma a great Moloch" that they did not realize that by "mental application" one could "wipe out ... present conditions and make now a new environment."

Fillmore's theosophical enthusiasm was apparent, as Neal Vahle has noted, in the large number of reviews of books on Theosophy in the first (1889) issue of Modem Thought-thirteen, among them Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled-all of them recommended reading. Meanwhile, Fillmore, with Theosophists, continued to embrace reincarnation beliefs (he once told Charles Braden that he had been St. Paul in a previous life). Likewise, his connections to Christian Science and its thought world were obvious, since he had been an Emma Curtis Hopkins student and had brought her to Kansas City to teach several classes.36 The largest difference between the Christian Science world of Eddy and the New Thought one of Fillmore was the direction of their combinations. Eddy combined Platonized Hermeticism and spiritualist-magnetic lingerings with Calvinism; Fillmore combined similar materials with Christian liberalism and Theosophy instead of Calvinism.

Fillmore's comfort in this blended and reconstructed world of differing metaphysical possibilities was hardly remarkable. His articulateness and his outreach suggest what numerous others in the metaphysical culture of the time were thinking, experiencing, and doing. Especially to be noticed in all of this is how much the comfort zone had extended to Asia. As Fillmore and so many Americans looked eastward for spiritual inspiration and solace, however, what they found was scarcely the unadulterated Asia of their (Romantic) vision. What they found, instead, was the metaphysical Asia (mind, correspondences, energy, and healing all there) that they had molded out of a Hermetic and vernacular magical past and the pluralism of an American present. Meanwhile, as we will see, the Asia of their discovery had also been mediated to them by the European West and an East itself undergoing selective westernization.



1. See Gill, Mary Baker Eddy, 158-59, 312. For accounts of the early growth of New Thought in the environs of Boston, see Judah, History and Philosophy of the Metaphysical Movements, 169-93; and Braden, Spirits in Rebellion, 129-54.

2. Horatio W. Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement (New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1919); Julius A. Dresser, The True History of Mental Science: A Lecture Delivered at the Church of the Divine Unity, rev. with additions (Boston: Alfred Budge, 1887); Judah, History and Philosophy of the Metaphysical Movements, 170; M[athilda]. J. Barnett, Practical Metaphysics; or, The True Method of Healing (Boston: H. H. Carter and Karrick, 1887); W[illiam]. J. Colville, The Spiritual Science of Health and Healing: Considered in Twelve Lectures, Delivered Inspirationally, by W. J. Colville, in San Francisco and Boston, during 1886 (Chicago: Garden City Publishing, 1887).

3. Braden, Spirits in Rebellion, 149; Materra, "Women in Early New Thought," 80, 88,90.

4. Satter, Each Mind a Kingdom, 79-80; J. Gordon Melton, "Emma Curtis Hopkins: A Feminist of the 1880s and Mother of New Thought," in Catherine Wessinger, ed., Women's Leadership in Marginal Religions Explorations Outside the Mainstream (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 88-101; Gail M. Harley, Emma Curtis Hopkins: Forgotten Founder of New Thought (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2002); Braden, Spirits in Rebellion, 143.

5. Useful constructions of Hopkins's life may be found in Harley, Emma Curtis Hopkins; Melton, "Emma Curtis Hopkins," 88-101; and Materra, "Women in Early New Thought," 131-44.

6. Satter, Each Mind a Kingdom, 81-82; Emma Curtis Hopkins, "Teachers of Metaphysics;' Christian Science Journal (September 1885), in J. Gordon Melton, ed., New Thought: A Reader (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Institute for the Study of American Religion, 1990), 90; Harley, Emma Curtis Hopkins, 18-20; Robert Peel, Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Trial (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1971), 179-80.

7. Materra, "Women in Early New Thought," 136-37.

8. As quoted ibid., 140.

9. "Kansas City College of Christian Science," Christian Science Thought 2, no. 1 (April 1890): 13.

10. Harley, Emma Curtis Hopkins, 35-129.

11. Satter, Each Mind a Kingdom, 86-89. Satter read Evans only in terms of his final book Esoteric Christianity and Mental Therapeutics; Schoepflin, Christian Science on Trial, 91-92. Hopkins, as an Eddy Scientist, accused A. J. Swarts of plagiarism (from Eddy) but later mended fences with him when she moved to Chicago, and she even, for a time, edited his journal. On the spiritualism of the Swartses, see Braude, Radical Spirits, 185-86.

12. Emma Curtis Hopkins, High Mysticism: A Series of Twelve Studies in the Wisdom of the Sages of the Ages (1924?; rpt., Marina del Rey, Calif.: DeVorss, [1974]); Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (New York: Harper, 1945). The publishing history of High Mysticism (or Higher Mysticism, which may have been its original title) is tangled at best. Internal evidence points to 1917 or thereafter as the date of composition (see Hopkins, High Mysticism, 133), but the earliest listed edition I can locateCornwall Bridge, Conn.: High Watch Fellowship, 1914-1925 -predates the 1917 year. The on-line catalog of the University of California also lists two 1924 editions: New York: E. S. Gorham, 1924; and Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1924. This last lists its title as Studies in High Mysticism: The Magia Jesu Christi, IV Faith, a title important because it suggests that, as Charles Braden categorically stated (Spirits in Rebellion, 148), the twelve studies were originally published independently and in different years (supported by the inclusive dates of the High Watch Fellowship listing), thus explaining the 1917 reference and the 1914 first publication date. Note, too, in this last title the evocation of Jesus as "Magia," pointing to the Hermetic and theosophical influence on the work.

13. Emma Curtis Hopkins, "God's Omnipresence;' Journal of Christian Science (April 1884), in Melton, ed., New Thought, 86; Emma Curtis Hopkins, "Fiat Justitia;' Journal of Christian Science (November 1884), in Melton, ed., New Thought, 88.

14. Harley, Emma Curtis Hopkins, 82-83; Melton, "Emma Curtis Hopkins;' 93-95; Emma Curtis Hopkins;wThe Ministry of the Holy Mother (Cornwall Bridge, Conn.: Emma Curtis Hopkins Fund, n.d.).

15. See Harley, Emma Curtis Hopkins, 11-13.

16. Emma (Curtis) Hopkins, "C. S. Ordination Address;' Christian Science 1, no. 7 (March 1889): 173-75. I have counted at least five Hopkins ordination addresses, very similar in content, in Ida Nichols's Chicago-based Christian Science journal. Besides this first one, they include: Emma (Curtis) Hopkins, "c. S. Ordination Address;' Christian Science 1, no. 10 (June 1889): 269-74; Emma Curtis Hopkins, "Ordination Address;' Christian Science 2, no. 11 (July 1890): 342-46; Emma Curtis Hopkins, "Ordination Address;' Christian Science 3, no. 5 (January 1891): 131-36; and Emma Curtis Hopkins, "Ordination Address," Christian Science 4, no. 2 (October 1891): 34- 39.

17. Emma Curtis Hopkins, "How to Attain Your Good (n.d.)," in Melton, ed., New Thought, 96-100 (emphases in Melton), 103-4.

18. Emma Curtis Hopkins, Scientific Christian Mental Practice (1958; rpt., Marina del Rey, Calif.: DeVorss, n.d.), 62-63 (upper case in original), 73, 90 (emphasis in original), 94,93,251. There is evidence that individual chapters were first published separately.

19. Hopkins, High Mysticism, 33,43,32,108 (on separate publication of the chapters, see n141).

20. Satter, Each Mind a Kingdom, esp. 13-14.

21. Materra, "Women in Early New Thought;' 300, 302, 9-10, 12,47, passim.

22. See ibid., 203-32, where Materra cites and quotes these cases.

23. See ibid., 232-34, where Materra cites and quotes these cases.

24. See Satter, Each Mind a Kingdom, 200-205; Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward, 2000-1887 (Boston: Ticknor, 1888).

25. Ralph Waldo Trine, In Tune with the Infinite; or, Fullness of Peace, Power, and Plenty (New York: Crowell, 1897); Materra, "Women in Early New Thought;' 240, 239, 24142,236-38.

26. Donald Meyer, The Positive Thinkers: A Study of the American Quest for Health, Wealth, and Personal Power from Mary Baker Eddy to Norman Vincent Peale (1965), 2d ed. as The Positive Thinkers: Religion as Pop Psychology from Mary Baker Eddy to Oral Roberts (New York: Pantheon, 1980).

27. Materra, "Women in Early New Thought;' 101-2.

28. [Charles Fillmore], "Not an Answer, but an Opportunity," Thought 5, no. 11 (February 1894): 454, 454-60 (emphases in original); Materra, "Women in Early New Thought;' 291, 299-301, passim.

29. See Materra, "Women in Early New Thought;' esp. 302, 106.

30. See Braden, Spirits in Rebellion, 323 (upper case in Braden), 259-61; Judah, History and Philosophy of the Metaphysical Movements, 240-41.

31. Rev. Solon Lauer, ''After Christianity, What?" (1889), as quoted in Judah, History and Philosophy of the Metaphysical Movements, 178.

32. Neal Vahle, The Unity Movement: Its Evolution and Spiritual Teachings (Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation, 2002), 33; James Gaither, ed., The Essential Charles Fillmore: Collected Writings of a Missounystic (Unity Village, Mo.: Unity, 1999), 8. Vahle bases his account on an unidentified New York City newspaper article from 1934 entitled "Unity Founder Tells What It Means” (Charles Fillmore Collection, Unity Archives).

33. [Charles Fillmore], "Spiritualism and Metaphysics," Modern Thought 1, no. 5 (August 1889): 8 (emphasis in original).

34. [Fillmore], "Not an Answer but an Opportunity;' 456-57; Judah, History and Philosophy of the Metaphysical Movements, 248, 235; Braden, Spirits in Rebellion, 33233; Charles Fillmore, The Twelve Powers of Man (Kansas City, Mo.: Unity School of Christianity, 1930); Freeman Benjamin Dowd, The Temple of the Rosy Cross: The Soul, Its Powers, Migrations, and Transmigrations (San Francisco: Rosy Cross, 1888).

35. Leo-Virgo [Charles Fillmore], '''Let Your Light Shine,'" Thought 4, no. 9 (December 1892): 358-59 (emphasis in original); Vahle, Unity Movement, 137. On Fillmore's reincarnation beliefs, see Vahle, Unity Movement, 63-67, 70; Gaither, ed., Essential Charles Fillmore, 387-93; Braden, Spirits in Rebellion, 260. For Emma Curtis Hopkins's classes in Kansas City, Missouri, see "Mrs. Hopkins' Primary Class in Kansas City;' Modem Thought 1, no. 9 (January 1890): 8; "Personal," Modem Thought 1, no. 11 (March 1890): 8; "Kansas City College of Christian Science," Christian Science Thought 2, no. 1 (April 1890): 13; "The Theological Class in Christian Science," Christian Science Thought 2, no. 3 (May 1890): 9. Diane Smith of Membership Services at the Theosophical Society in America, after on-line and microfiche research in the society's records at Wheaton, Illinois, found membership for only two persons named Fillmore- both in the San Antonio, Texas, lodge and only from February 1920 through June 1921. Neither Cap. Harston D. Fillmore, M.D., nor his wife, Annie A. Fillmore, have any known relationship to Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.


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