Download e-book for iPad: By What Authority? The Rise of Personality Cults in American by Richard Quebedeaux

By Richard Quebedeaux

ISBN-10: 0060667249

ISBN-13: 9780060667245

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Extra info for By What Authority? The Rise of Personality Cults in American Christianity.

Example text

Celebrity Leaders in American Christianity: 1 86 5- 1 9 60 41 Phineas Parkhurst Quimby ( 1 802-1 866) of Portland, Maine, was one of those in America who were intrigued by the therapeutic power of mesmerism, and he ultimately came to believe that disease could be cured by cultivating "healthy attitudes"-positive rather than negative thoughts-through suggestion, and without the use of hypnotism . Sickness, Quimby insisted, was the direct consequence of wrong be­ l iefs. One of Quimby's patients was Mary Baker Eddy ( 1 82 1 - 1 9 1 0), the founder of Christian Science.

Those "convicted" of sin were led forward to the "anxious bench, " a front pew reminiscent of the trial room witness stand, where attention was focused on them. This method functioned as a dramatization of the struggle for heaven in the soul of every per­ son. To the scandal of many church people of the day, women, as well as men , were encouraged to testify and pray in public in Finney's meetings. And despite the "order" demanded in his services, he was tastefully blunt and openly advocated the creation of excitement in order to attract the attention of the otherwise uninterested.

In church history, led the weekly gathering's teaching activities until 1 9 5 2, when he was succeeded by Richard Halverson. Halverson was an associate pastor of the Hollywood church at the time; he is now chaplain of the U . S . Senate. Other early leaders in the movement of Christian stars, beginning in 1 949, included Townsend, Tim Spencer (country song composer of "Roomful of Roses"), Stuart Hamblen (another country artist who wrote popular gospel songs after his conversion by Billy Graham at one of the group's meetings), Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and, for a brief period, Jane Russell .

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By What Authority? The Rise of Personality Cults in American Christianity. by Richard Quebedeaux

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