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A History of the New Thought Movement

A History of the New Thought Movement

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Published by: Twiggy on Mar 01, 2010
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A History of the New Thought Movementby Horatio W. DresserPublished by Thomas Y. Crowell Co., New York1919
This ebook (c) MK Cultra 2006mkcultra.com
 
Chapter 1 - THE NEW AGE
 THE great war came as a vivid reminder that we live in a new age. We began to look back not only to explain the war and find a way to bring it to an end, but to see whattendencies were in process to lead us far beyond it. There were new issues to be met andwe needed the new enlightenment to meet them. The war was only one of various signsof a new dispensation. It came not so much to prepare the way as to call attention totruths which we already possessed. The new age had been in process for some time.Different ones of us were trying to show in what way it was a new dispensation, whatprinciples were most needed. What the war accomplished for us was to give us a newcontrast. As a result we now see clearly that some of the tendencies of the nineteenthcentury which were most warmly praised are not so promising as we supposed.We had come to regard the nineteenth century as the age of the special sciences. Welooked to science for enlightenment. We enjoyed new inventions without number, such asthe steam-engine, the electric telegraph, the telephone, and our life centered more andmore about these. But the nation having most to do with preparation for the war was theone which made the greatest use of the special sciences. Modern science was in factmaterialized for the benefit of a military party. As a result of our study of the war manyof us are now more interested in higher branches of knowledge than in the specialsciences. We insist that science is for use, and we reserve the right to say what that useshall be. We have lost interest in science not explicitly employed for moral ends.Again, we called attention to the nineteenth century with great pride as the age of thephilosophy of evolution. We put our hopes in that philosophy. We expected it to explainthe great mysteries. We wrote history anew, we issued new text-books, and in a thousandways adapted our thought to the great idea of gradual development. But while the newphilosophy accomplished wonders for us in so far as it showed the reign of law, theuniformity of nature, the immanence of all causality, it deprived us of our former belief inthe divine purpose. Taken literally, it led us to regard nature as self-operative. We had towork our way back to the divine providence. We realized that evolutionism was simply anew form of materialism. We carried forward from the nineteenth century into thetwentieth many great problems of life and mind not yet solved. The philosophy of evolution has come to stay, but not even in the form of Bergson's interpretation is itsatisfactory.We also looked upon the nineteenth century as the period of development of idealism.The modern movement, beginning in Germany, spread to England and the United States,and we witnessed a most interesting form of it in our transcendentalism. This movement,in brief, emphasized Thought as the cardinal principle. It sought to explain all things byreference to this Thought. It found the starting-point as well as the meaning in the Idea,The outward world was regarded as a mere phenomenon in comparison. This movementhad permanent contributions to make to our thought. We associate the name of Emersonwith its spiritual meanings. But most of its theoretical teachings seem far removed fromour practical thought today. We no longer try to spin the world out of the mere web of 
This ebook (c) MK Cultra 2006mkcultra.com
 
Thought. We need a new idealism to replace that of Fichte and Hegel. We are suspiciousof mere speculation. The idealism of the last century is already mere matter of history.The nineteenth century was also the epoch of religious liberalism. Throughout thecentury Unitarianism accomplished a great work. The liberalizing tendencies spread intoall denominations. We take many ideas as matters of course nowadays for which thegreat leaders of the time of Theodore Parker and James Martineau had to contend at therisk of intellectual martyrdom The liberalism of the early part of the century had adestructive work to do before the freer thought of the day could assimilate the teachingsof modern science and give us our present constructive faith. It requires decided effort onour part today to put ourselves back to the time when narrowing dogmas still ruled thehuman mind, when it was customary to pray for divine intervention, to believe inmiracles as infractions of law, and to draw lines of rigid exclusiveness around theecclesiastical sect to which one happened to belong. The history of liberalism is socomprehensive that it is always a question nowadays what we mean when we use theterm. To be liberal is to be of the new age. The real question is, what is the goal of liberalism? The answer which a disciple of the New Thought would give should beunderstood in the light of a long struggle for the right to employ mental healing, astruggle which went on almost apart, independently of the warfare waged byUnitarianism upon the old doctrines and dogmas.As in the case of the philosophy of evolution, we have had religious liberalism longenough with us to realize that it has a sting to it. For the less enlightened, the smallerminds among liberals, freedom of religious thought developed according to the tenets of the new or higher criticism imported from Germany. Undertaking to explain how theBible came into being, with the variations and errors of texts, the imperfections of language, the conflict of opinions due to the fact that the books of which the Bibleconsists were brought together by other hands long after the supposed writers flourished,the critics proved too much and exemplified a habit of judging by the letter. Biblicalcriticism became destructive and had much to do with the weakening of faith stillapparent among us. If we say that the new age is the epoch of belief in the spiritualmeaning of the Scriptures, we must qualify it by saying that the greater work remains tobe done. Devotees of the New Thought have freely interpreted the Bible for themselves.What is needed is a spiritual science of interpretation to offset the destructive work whichthe age accepted without knowing what it believed.The great century that has passed also witnessed the coming of spiritism in its modernform. In retrospect we are now able to say that behind all that was misleading in the newmovement there were certain great truths which the world needed. Old ideas of deathhave been overcame, the spiritual world has been brought nearer, and larger views of thehuman spirit have been generally accepted. Out of the new interest came psychicalresearch as an endeavor to put the phenomena of the whole field of spiritism on ascientific basis. The results have been meager and slowly attained. But the movement hasbeen educational. Its positive results are discoverable in what we have been led to think.Although the whole field lies somewhat apart from that of the New Thought, the mental-healing movement has profited by it. Spiritualism is a protest against the materialism of 
This ebook (c) MK Cultra 2006mkcultra.com

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