Synopses & Reviews
Spirits of Protestantism
reveals how liberal Protestants went from being early-twentieth-century medical missionaries seeking to convert others through science and scripture, to becoming vocal critics of missionary arrogance who experimented with non-western healing modes such as Yoga and Reiki. Drawing on archival and ethnographic sources, Pamela E. Klassen shows how and why the very notion of healing within North America has been infused with a Protestant "supernatural liberalism." In the course of coming to their changing vision of healing, liberal Protestants became pioneers three times over: in the struggle against the cultural and medical pathologizing of homosexuality; in the critique of Christian missionary triumphalism; and in the diffusion of an ever-more ubiquitous anthropology of "body, mind, and spirit." At a time when the political and anthropological significance of Christianity is being hotly debated, Spirits of Protestantism
forcefully argues for a reconsideration of the historical legacies and cultural effects of liberal Protestantism, even for the anthropology of religion itself.
and#8220;A courageous and balanced treatise. . . . A nuanced call for the careful analysis of the seemingly familiar.and#8221;
and#8220;A rich portrait of 20th century Protestant liberalism.and#8221;
This exciting work offers an innovative analysis of the politics of body, mind, and spirit among North American liberal Protestants over the course of the twentieth century. Pamela Klassen shows how a global array of healing therapies, such as telepathy and yoga found their way into Protestant practice. Liberal Protestants of the early decades sought to convert the heathen by combining modern medicine with evangelism in Christian missions that were both scientific and imperialistic. By the century's end they viewed this healing mission as pathological both politically and therapeutically. Klassen shows how Protestant encounters with a variety of bodily therapies helped them to cultivate a new supernatural liberalism in which religious difference was to be celebrated, not obliterated. At a time when the political and anthropological significance of Christianity is being hotly debated, Spirits of Protestantism forcefully argues for a reconsideration of the historical legacies and cultural effects of liberal Protestantism, even for the anthropology of religion itself.
and#147;Klassenand#8217;s book is much more than a first-rate study of how two churches in Canada positioned themselves within the ostensibly parallel worlds of biomedicine and spiritual healing. It is, at its core, an insightful meditation on the relationship between liberal Protestantism and the project of modernity. A must read not only for students of Christianity, but all those interested in the legacies of secularism and enchantment." and#151;Matthew Engelke, London School of Economics
About the Author
Pamela E. Klassen is Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Blessed Events: Religion and Home Birth in America.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Healing Christians
1. Anthropologies of the Spiritual Body
2. The Gospel of Health and the Scientific Spirit
3. Protestant Experimentalists and the Energy of Love
4. Evil Spirits and the Queer Psyche in an Age of Anxiety
5. Ritual Proximity and the Healing of History
Conclusion: Critical Condition