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American Messiahs: False Prophets of a…

American Messiahs: False Prophets of a Damned Nation

by Adam Morris

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301563,120 (4.33)None
Mania surrounding messianic prophets has defined the national consciousness since the American Revolution. From Civil War veteran and virulent anticapitalist Cyrus Teed, to the dapper and overlooked civil rights pioneer Father Divine, to even the megalomaniacal Jim Jones, these figures have routinely been dismissed as dangerous and hysterical outliers.After years of studying these emblematic figures, Adam Morris demonstrates that messiahs are not just a classic trope of our national culture; their visions are essential for understanding American history. As Morris demonstrates, these charismatic, if flawed, would-be prophets sought to expose and ameliorate deep social ills--such as income inequality, gender conformity, and racial injustice. Provocative and long overdue, this is the story of those who tried to point the way toward an impossible "American Dream": men and women who momentarily captured the imagination of a nation always searching for salvation.… (more)



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An insightful book tracking a perverse streak in American religious history. The book tells the stories of The Person Formerly Known as Jemima Wilkinson and then moves up through less well known 19th and early 20 century leaders and movements that syncretized Christianity, spiritualism, socialism, and communitarianism (living communally), and trying to build a new humanity. Although I've learned about many of these phenomena over the years, Morris has a keen eye for picking out the interesting stuff, and filling out the stories that I know only a little something about. I found the chapter on Father Divine particularly interesting, and was unaware of the tortured links that Jim Jones tried to establish with that group. ( )
  rsairs | Dec 2, 2019 |
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