The next ninety years

Originally appeared on spirituality.com

One hundred and eleven years ago, as the 19th century turned into the 20th, it was obvious that the scope of thought was broadening in many areas. The world gratefully saw the conclusion to the Philippine-American War. Yet, there were other battles taking place, battles significant to the ways people perceived their world. Marie Curie’s discovery of radium, Friedrich Nietzsche’s declaration that “God is dead” in his widely read book, The Joyful Wisdom, and the respected Protestant clergyman Phillips Brooks’s statement that religion is the highest reach of our human life, all contributed to the world’s religio-philosophical soup. The ongoing battle between creationism and Darwinism stirred the pot briskly.

There was clearly a burgeoning interest in God. In the United States, for example, church membership more than doubled between 1850 and 1900. And the scope of theology was as wide as the country. Amid Calvinism, Roman Catholicism, Protestant orthodoxy, Congregationalism, and Transcendentalism, contrasting, novel ideas floated around abundantly from proponents of Millenarianism, Spiritualism, and Theosophy.

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