by Matthew S. Hedstrom

The October 11, 1948 issue of Time magazine carried a short article in the "Religion" section with the intriguing title "Mystics Among Us." Nestled among post-war ads for Frigidaire compressors and Kelvinator adding machines, the piece began: "In two perceptive, quietly stirring books published this week, an old and a young American gave their testimony about mysticism." The editors of Time, apparently, saw no need to explain what mysticism is or why Americans should care-—mysticism was in the air in postwar America. The article continued: "Both men re-emphasize two facts often forgotten: the world still has millions of mystics, and the most mystical human beings are often among the most practical as well."2 The young man in the article was the 33-year-old Catholic convert and Trappist monk Thomas Merton, whose celebrated autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, went on to become a surprise national bestseller. The old man, who had passed away the previous June at age 85, was the Quaker mystic and scholar Rufus Jones. How did religious mysticism become the matter-of-fact topic of a mainstream news magazine in post-war America? The runaway success of Merton's autobiography is the end of the story. Not surprisingly, the story begins with Rufus Jones.

In short, I contend that Rufus Jones was the seminal figure in making mysticism middlebrow in the interwar period. Jones, both as scholar of mysticism and through his personal example and activism, promoted an egalitarian mysticism, open to all. Mystical union with the divine, according to Jones, was not a privilege reserved only for the great spiritual athletes. But Jones did not just theorize—he also popularized. His willingness to market himself to the masses was a critical stimulus towards the popular embrace of a mystical emphasis in liberal Protestant spirituality, both because of his own direct influence and because of his influence on even more popular writers such as Howard Thurman and Harry Emerson Fosdick. This middlebrowing of mysticism paved the way for the success of a wide range of mystical writers to come, starting with Thomas Merton and lasting into the New Age.

Mysticism's appeal in these decades came from many sources. To liberal Protestants caught up in modernist/fundamentalist struggles, mysticism offered life-transforming religious experience not confined to the evangelical paradigm. And during decades of Depression and war, mystical experience provided the "spiritual energy" to fuel social gospel endeavors to redeem a social order that may have seemed at times beyond redemption. But perhaps most critically, a newly emerging cultural space, the religious middlebrow, simply made writings on mysticism much more widely available. Scholars in American Studies have used the term "middlebrow" to describe the new cultural forms that emerged when "high culture" was marketed to a growing, socially-anxious American middle-class seeking to "better" itself in the decades after World War I. According to Joan Shelly Rubin, by the 1930s the term "middlebrow" had come into wide use, sometimes pejoratively, but often simply descriptively. A writer for the Saturday Review in 1933, for example, defined the term straightforwardly as "the men and women, fairly civilized, fairly literate, who support the critics and lecturers and publishers by purchasing their wares."3 Religious culture was an important component of the emerging middlebrow, and the consequences of this new religious middlebrow were far-reaching. By tying American religious culture ever more tightly to the consumer marketplace, middlebrow reading brought previously esoteric and academic ideas into the mainstream. Freer than ever to browse widely in the marketplace of ideas, millions of Americans in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s discovered mysticism.

Books were central to the religious middlebrow enterprise. Liberal Protestant leaders, in particular, turned to the exploding mass market for cheap books to spread their message. Rufus Jones himself enthusiastically supported this project. In 1921, Jones wrote a brief article, entitled "The Habit of Reading," to promote a national effort known as Religious Book Week. Spearheaded by Publisher’s Weekly, Religious Book Week was part of a revolution in the business of selling religious books that began right after the First World War. Major publishers, for the first time, established Religion Departments, and began to adopt the marketing and distribution strategies used to sell other commodities, while religious leaders, such as Rufus Jones, began to aggressively promote the reading—and buying—of mass-market books as a central component of the religious life. The idea behind Religious Book Week was simple: what was good "religion" was also good business.

Professor Jones used his essay to initiate his readers into the mysteries of serious, earnest, religious reading and book buying. He began by lamenting the poor reading habits of most Americans, and noted, ominously, the impressive "experiment made by many of the new cults in America. They grow, expand, and flourish," he wrote, "largely through the use of books." Christians needed to be just a diligent. "It is not enough to read capriciously and sporadically, to borrow a book occasionally and then have done with it," he advised. "I am pleading for the ownership of books and for the cultivation of the habit of reading." To help his readers cultivate that ennobling habit, he counseled: "The true and effective way to read an illuminating book is to read it, pencil in hand, to mark cardinal passages, to make notes, and to digest the message which the book contributes." Jones then added, just to make sure his point was clear, "That means that the book ought, if possible, to be owned rather than borrowed. One needs to go back again and again to a good book, to reread marked passages, and to become literally possessed of it."4 Here we see, in stark clarity, an agenda for books as commodities, marketed to mass America as an agent of cultural betterment.

Jones, of course, was not alone among the liberal Protestant establishment of the 1920s in his concern for the poor state of religious reading in the United States. In the mid-'20s a group of religious leaders in New York City—including leaders of the powerful Federal Council of Churches—commissioned a study of Americans' religious reading habits. That study—which concluded, not surprisingly, that the state of the union in this matter was rather poor—led to the founding, in 1927, of the Religious Book Club; it was modeled on the immensely popular Book-of-the-Month Club, which had been established only the year before, and sought to elevate the reading of clergy and laity alike by presenting the "best" books of theology, religious history, and inspiration.5 The missionary agenda of these evangelists of the book carried, naturally, the same universalist assumptions that animated much of the Protestant establishment. But power is power—and the message got out. Harry Emerson Fosdick was a founding member of the editorial board, while Jones served on the board briefly in the late  1930s. Through the Book Club, many of the key books of the religious middlebrow enterprise were sold, including numerous selections from Jones, Fosdick, and Thurman. Middlebrow books brought mysticism to the masses.


To understand Rufus Jones's mysticism, we must turn to the turn-of-the-century Quaker milieu in which it was formulated.6 "There are few crises to compare," wrote Rufus Jones in 1904, "with that which appears when the simple, childhood religion, imbibed at mother's knee and absorbed from early home and church environment, comes into collision with a scientific, solidly reasoned system . .."7 Here Jones was speaking from personal experience, but also for the experience of an entire generation. The man who was at this time just entering his career as professor of philosophy and psychology at Haverford College, who would go on to write 57 books and thousands of articles, who would reconcile warring factions in American Quakerism, found and lead the American Friends Service Committee for three decades and share in their 1947 Nobel Peace Prize, and who was called, late in life, "the greatest spiritual philosopher living in America since William James"—this man was, in 1904, well acquainted with spiritual crisis.8

His generation, young, eager and intellectually hungry in the last decades of the nineteenth century, endured most directly the impact of Darwin's biology and German historical criticism, an impact that Jones vividly described as a "collision." Protestant denominations of all stripes were torn apart by what came to be called the modernist/fundamentalist controversy in the 1920s, but American Quakerism, as in so many other areas, was in the vanguard here too, and had been enduring its own modernist controversy in the waning years of the 19th century. The correspondence in the Jones papers for these years is dominated by concerns over evolution, and Biblical scholarship and interpretation, as Diana Franzusoff Peterson has shown.9 Finally, in addition to these denominational and intellectual crises, and much more personally, Jones had recently suffered three devastating losses, first of his wife in 1899, then of his fiancé in 1900, and most recently and most tragically, of his only child, his son Lowell, in the summer of 1903. In other words, Jones knew spiritual crisis.

Out of these crises—the alienations of modernity—Jones penned perhaps his most important book, Social Law in the Spiritual World. This work was Jones's first attempt to reach an audience beyond the academic and Quaker communities. It also occurred in the midst a great vogue in mysticism studies at the turn of the century, of which Jones's own scholarship was some of the most important.10 In Social Law Jones drew heavily on the psychology and philosophy of William James and Josiah Royce, influences from his year of graduate work at Harvard. Yet the book is no dry tome. It was designed not just to enlighten its readers, but also to inspire them, and it did. "The trouble with many of the best works on these themes," Jones wrote in the introduction, "is that they are too learned and technical to help the wayfaring man who wants to get the newer insight and who yet cannot find any way to get into the onward moving current. This present book is an attempt to help such persons."11 As we will see, Howard Thurman and Harry Emerson Fosdick were two such persons. Through them, through other popular writers whom he influenced, and through his own widely read books and articles, Jones was able to bring his form of modern mysticism to middlebrow readers.

Jamesian psychology taught that all knowledge and all experience is mediated through consciousness; yet Jones, as a mystic, also held that God can only be apprehended through this very same medium—the conscious experience of an individual personality. The study of personality—psychology—therefore became a critical tool of spiritual development. "[I]f we could drop our plummet down though the deeps of one personality we could tell all the meanings of the visible world, all the problems of social life and all the secrets of the eternal Personal Self."12 Critics have recently made the convincing argument that liberal religion—Protestantism in particular—suffered a spiritual malaise in the twentieth century largely due to an over-eager embrace of scientific psychology.13 Jones, too, embraced science and psychology, but he tempered it with mystical experience, and thereby kept psychology from crowding out spiritual vitality. This explains, at least in part, his tremendous appeal for many leading religious liberals of mid-century. In Social Law Jones took what he understood to be the fundamental lessons of the new psychology and applied them to the mystical heart of his Quaker tradition. The most central lesson he gleaned from psychology—and this is really the key to understanding Jones's psychology and his mysticism—is that humans are not discrete individuals; all that we do and are is relational. Here Jones connected the psychological and the mystical with the social. One of the central themes of his scholarship in the history of mysticism is that mystical experience itself, as he put it, "flourishes best in groups."14 This, of course, reflects more than anything else the communal mystical practice that is Quaker silent worship. As Jones phrased the same idea in Social Law, "No man can be holy unto himself."15

With this understanding of the relationship of soul, self, and society, Jones was able to develop his concept of the nature of mysticism, the subject around which his life revolved, both professionally and personally. He grouped mystics into two classes: negation mystics and affirmation mystics. The first class sought what Abraham Maslow would later call "peak experiences," the ecstatic rapture of union with the divine. As one may surmise, Jones was not terribly impressed with this, which he regarded as spiritual escapism. Rather, he looked to the affirmation mystics for guidance. Such mystics, with whom he certainly hoped to include himself, "do not make vision the end of life, but rather the beginning . . . More important than the vision is obedience to the vision."16 For the affirmation mystic, the solitary, personal, inward, mystical experience, which for Jones always lay at the heart of spiritual life, was to be valued only insofar as it empowered the participant to service in the world. "The truth test is to be sought, not in the feeling-state, but in the motor-effects,"17 he wrote, reflecting James. For Jones, the test of mystical experience was its social utility.

Like any immensely prolific writer, Jones tended to repeat himself, and so his definition of mysticism, with minor variations, can be found in many of his works. In all these iterations, two traits stand out: mysticism is direct experience of the divine, and such experience is not for the privileged few—it is democratic. For example, in a 1921 article in the Atlantic Monthly, "The Mystic's Experience of God," Jones defined mystical experience this way: "Mystical experience is consciousness of direct and immediate relationship with some transcendent reality which, in the moment of experience, is believed to be God."18 Jones's Jamesian theology—"transcendent reality . . . believed to be God"—made mystical experience accessible to those of almost any theological persuasion. In his final book, Jones titled a chapter, "Mysticism in Ordinary, Everyday Persons," and quotes on the availability of mystical experience to all persons are likewise easy to come by in Jones's body of work. From Spiritual Energies in 1922: "We assume that [mysticism] is for saints or apostles, but not for common every-day people like ourselves. Well, that is where we are wrong."19 And from New Eyes for Invisibles in 1944: "The 'eyes' I am talking about, the eyes that see the invisibles, do not belong to a chosen few persons, the spiritual élite, they belong, potentially at least, to all of us who have minds."20 This, then, is one sense in which Jones's mysticism was a mysticism for the masses—every man and every woman, those middlebrow middle Americans who are "fairly civilized [and] fairly literate," who have followed Jones's advise and bought and read and consumed good religious books—they too can become mystics.

The mark of Jones's genius is that out of the crises of his age he was able to craft a vision of the religious life that not only proved workable for himself (unlike William James, Jones was the greatest practitioner of the faith he advocated) but also reached out to countless other struggling Americans. Moreover, Rufus Jones brought mysticism to the masses not just because he declared that mystical experience was open to all in theory; in this regard, he was simply being a good Quaker, affirming the Inner Light. Rather, his message actually got out to the mass reading public. Many of his inspirational books sold well, especially the later ones, and were marketed heavily through such organizations as the Religious Book Club, which selected a number of his works as book of the month.21 His publisher, Macmillan, aggressively sought to bring his books to a mainstream audience outside of Quaker circles. He wrote many articles on mysticism for such widely read publications as The Atlantic Monthly and The Christian Century, and, as we have seen, news of his books was carried in magazines such as Time.

While it is safe to describe Jones as a popular writer, his books never quite crossed the threshold to true national bestseller status. His mysticism primarily reached a national audience through other means. In 1955, the Upper Room, publisher of the self-proclaimed "world's most widely used devotional guide," put out a pamphlet entitled Six 20th-Century Mystics: Their Devotional Practices, which featured Rufus Jones alongside Glenn Clark, Peter Marshall, Frank Laubach, Albert Schweitzer, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 22 The pamphlet distilled each of these men into six or seven pages, emphasizing their devotional practices so that each reader might be able to emulate these great models of faith. Read this and you, too, can become a Schweitzer or a Bonhoeffer or a Jones! Gone, however, was much of the nuance of Jones's mysticism, as well as the social component; here Jones sounds more like Norman Vincent Peale.

Jones was fortunate to have other more faithful and able popularizers. Not surprisingly for someone who so emphasized personal experience, autobiography was Jones's favorite literary genre, both as a reader and as a writer, and his autobiographical writings proved to be inspirational for generations of readers.23 In 1926 a young African-American preacher in Oberlin, Ohio, picked up a copy of Jones's Finding the Trail of Life, and read it in one sitting, on the church steps. He was so enthralled, he later wrote, that "When I finished I knew that if this man were alive, I wanted to study with him."24 This young man was Howard Thurman. He described an "instant kinship" with Jones upon reading this tale of childhood—such a kinship, in fact, that he began a correspondence with Jones, and then, in 1929, came to Haverford to study.25 Jones, according to Gary Dorrien, quickly became Thurman's "mentor" and "model."26 Thurman, destined to become one of the great spiritual writers of the twentieth century and himself a leading mystic, attributed to Jones's teaching his own understanding of the power of mystical religion to address social oppression. Thurman wrote that Jones "gave me confidence in the insight that religion of the inner life could deal with the empirical experience of man."27

Howard Thurman took Jones's message about the social utility of mystical experience and crafted from it a prophetic theology of liberation that served as a spiritual cornerstone of the civil rights movement. This "Quaker-influenced mystic and pacifist" was a leader in the movement toward racial integration, especially at his experimental, interracial church in San Francisco, which he founded in 1944, in addition to work as "an adviser to civil rights movement leaders, a professor, a pastor, a chapel dean, a prolific author, and a spiritual influence on Martin Luther King, Jr."28 His most important and widely read book, Jesus and the Disinherited, published in 1949, sought to recover the faith of Jesus from the Christian Church, which he regarded as a betrayer because of the ways the institutional church legitimized racial oppression. It became a seminal work in African-American liberation theology, one that Martin Luther King, Jr. reportedly carried along on his travels, and one of the spiritual classics of the 20th century.29

Thurman articulated his own understanding of the relationship of mysticism to social involvement in his 1939 lectures at Eden Theological Seminary entitled "Mysticism and Social Change." His debt to Jones is clear; his thinking rests, in fact, on Jones's idea of affirmation mysticism. "The affirmation mystic interprets the meaning of man's life in terms of an experienced unity with God" he noted, in what amounted to almost a definition of mysticism. Yet he continued: "What he experiences he is under obligation to achieve in experience. In his effort to achieve this in experience he is brought face to face with evil in his own life and in the lives of others . . ."30 Thurman recognized, from his mentor Jones, the relationship that runs from mystical experience through personality to social engagement. "I do not see any substitute for the emergence of a conscious sense of community among the masses of men which will provide a dignity and a worthfulness characteristic of persons on the basis of which equality between them and the oppressor can be established . . . It is in moral and spiritual leadership of this quality that the affirmation mystic comes into his own."31 In other words, Thurman argued that those who labor in the struggle against social oppression must be rooted in a mystical communion with the divine. Through Thurman, Jones's mysticism reached the masses, not just in popular books— although Thurman surely was a popular author—but even more directly through a movement, the civil rights movement, that was rooted in mystical experience.

Jonesian mysticism reached its largest reading audience through another convert, the greatest liberal preacher of the 20th century, Harry Emerson Fosdick. The story here starts with a young Fosdick, who later in life became a personal friend of Jones. In 1904, Fosdick was 26, "struggling to find a footing in his faith," as he put it many years later, and Jones's Social Law in the Spiritual World, "opened the door to a new era in my thought and life . . ." Fosdick confessed, "much of my message has been rooted in the rich soil which that book provided."32 Fosdick was so inspired by Jones, in fact, that he became what one scholar has called a "fellow-traveling Quaker" and even considered leaving the Baptist Church of his birth and converting to Quakerism. Jones in the 1920s and '30s was a regular speaker at Fosdick's Rockefeller-financed Protestant cathedral on Morningside Heights, the Riverside Church, and the two saw each other often in Maine, where they both vacationed and hobnobbed with the Rockefellers.

Fosdick was, unlike Jones or Thurman, a truly national phenomenon—his books sold in the millions, and his weekly radio address on NBC's Sunday-night "National Vespers" were heard by millions more across the nation. The message he preached in these books and radio sermons was, like Jones's, thoroughly modernist—he embraced science, historical criticism of the Bible and the life of Jesus, was suspicious of literal interpretations of Biblical supernaturalism, and enthusiastically embraced psychology. Fosdick's 1943 On Being a Real Person, for example, was a #1 national bestsellers, and was sold in department stores and advertised in major newspapers across the nation. But, what Fosdick learned from Jones was, for a liberal faith to remain living, it must make room for personal connection with the divine—what Jones called mystical experience. Fosdick sermon titles from the 1930s and '40s include: "The Essence of Personal Christianity," "The New Demand for Personal Religion," "Wartime's Effect on Our Personal Religion," "People Who Suppose They Have no Personal Relationship with God," and "Truth Through Personality."33 Scholars have labeled Fosdick's brand of theological liberalism, not surprisingly, "personal-ism," but if one scratches beneath the surface of these labels one finds that Fosdick's personalism looks a whole lot like Jones's mysticism. Fosdick, in fact, was such an acolyte of Rufus Jones that after Jones's death in 1948 he began work on an anthology of Jones's writings, published in 1950 under the title Rufus Jones Speaks to Our Times.

The biggest of all prophets of mysticism in mid-century America, however, was Thomas Merton, with whom Jones was linked in that October 1948 Time magazine piece. Sydney Ahlstrom described Merton as "the American who brought the mystical tradition to full expression," and certainly to its widest American audience yet.34 The success of Merton's autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain, which shocked its publisher by remaining at or near the top of the New York Times bestseller list for the remainder of 1948 and much of 1949, was due, no doubt, in large degree to the Second World War, and to many Americans' longing for security, meaning, and spiritual solace in the face of the horrors of war and the potentially greater horrors of the next war. Americans were, to borrow a phrase, homeward bound, and what better symbol of security and serenity than the monastery. Reviewers frequently referred to Merton as an "atomic age Augustine."

Jones, too, knew that the war might lead Americans toward a greater interest in mystical religion. In 1942, he opened yet another Atlantic Monthly essay on mystical experience with these lines: "While I am writing this, the world seems to be collapsing into a primitive chaos of revolution and destruction."35 Yet, Jones argued, "It is now if ever that we need the voice of those who, 'listening to the inner flow of things, speak to the age out of Eternity.'"36 Jones concluded with one of his most stirring refrains, calling his readers to a higher life through intimacy with the Eternal. Mystics, Jones wrote, are in every church and in no church at all. They are in towns and cities, on country farms, in CCC camps and in the Army. They are laboratory professors and they are college students. They are rich and they are poor. They are good-livers and they are hardy ascetics. But they have, one and all, learned that they do not live by bread alone, but have resources from the World beyond the world of space and time, and their "best moments of life" are times of spiritual fecundity, infused by contact with a Beyond.37

Thomas Merton's book reached these soul-weary Americans with the story of his life transformed by a mystical faith. Yet, perhaps, the trailblazing of Rufus Jones and his followers made the mysticism of the Roman Catholic monastery more accessible to Protestant America. The Society of Friends, as Jones argued in his numerous histories of Quakerism and mysticism, had a deep heritage in mystical religion, and yet also was unquestionably American, unlike Roman Catholicism, which even in the middle of the twentieth century was still seen by many Americans as foreign. After decades of exposure to Quaker and Quaker-inspired mysticism, the middlebrow reader was prepared for Thomas Merton, and so, when Merton's autobiography was published, it found fertile soil. A Life magazine article on the Seven Storey phenomenon attested to Merton's broad appeal, noting that in many cities more Protestants than Catholics were reading the book.

While Merton's personal example in 1948 was as an apparently world-renouncing cloistered monk, Merton's appeal for his readers was the same as Jones's and Thurman's and Fosdick's—the personal and social utility of mysticism in everyday life. Graham Greene, in his dust-jacket blurb, indicated that this book might inspire readers to follow Jones's book-reading advise: "The Seven Storey Mountain," he is quoted as saying, "is a book one reads with a pencil so as to make it one's own." The book proved so immensely popular that many of these readers apparently took their pencils and wrote directly to Merton. Merton was so inundated with letters that, as he joked to a friend, "I have a secretary who mails out the 'Trappist-no-write-letters' card to the fans."38 He confided to another friend: "Letters come in from everywhere, Park Avenue and San Quentin Prison, the sanctuary and the studio,"39 but, he wrote elsewhere, "more of them are usually sensible married women who want to find out how you can lead the contemplative life and take care of the children at the same time."40 This was the practical mysticism that Jones and Fosdick and Thurman each advocated, and that Merton's readers, the "sensible married women," evidently sought as well.

The mass-marketing of books brought the mysticism of Jones, Thurman, Fosdick and Merton to the vast reading public. In doing so, it reinforced trends already evident in liberal Protestantism toward spiritual individualism and eclecticism. Mystical religion, in fact, helped lower the walls dividing Protestant and Catholic, black and white, and later, East and West. Contemporary critics rightly note how liberal Protestants of a century ago employed universalistic assumptions about mystical experience to naturalize Orientalist paradigms and mask colonial relations of power. Rufus Jones can be cited on these grounds, as he exhibited on occasion clear religious prejudices—for example, writing in his diary during a 1926 trip to India: "the priests are ignorant and dirty and religion is still in the doll stage."41 Nevertheless, he wrote of mystical experience in ways that cut across boundaries. Swami Akhilananda of the Ramakrishna-Vedanta Society of Massachusetts wrote warmly and positively to Jones in 1947 about his book, The Luminous Trail,42 and Thurman and Merton, like Jones, each devoted much of their lives to using mystical experience as a basis for conversing with other traditions of faith. Indeed, Leigh Eric Schmidt, in writing about Jones and his fellow advocates of mysticism, contends that mysticism "was a means of interreligious engagement—a sympathetic meeting point in an increasingly global encounter of religions."43

These trends reached their fullest expression as Merton's conversations with Buddhist mystics gave way to the New Age eclecticism of Ram Dass and others in the 1960s and 1970s. "Understanding how mysticism took on such a wide sense," Schmidt writes, "is an important step in fathoming how spirituality itself has now become such an expansive term in the religious vernacular of the twenty-first century."44 And to understand how mysticism took such a hold on the spiritual imagination of the nation in the 1920s, '30s and '40s, we must take into account the mechanisms of middlebrow culture, specifically the book market. Cheap and readily available books were perhaps the most important agent in the rise of New Age religion, just as popular books had brought the mysticism of Jones, Thurman, Fosdick and Merton to the masses decades earlier. The business of marketing books and the democratic mysticism of Rufus Jones came together in the interwar years, with consequences reaching to our own day.


1. A version of this article was originally presented, under the same title, as a lecture at Haverford College in September 2003. The Gest Fellowship at Haverford provided funds for research in the Rufus Jones papers, for which I am deeply grateful. I am appreciative of the kind support and friendship of many people at the Magill Library, the Quaker Collection, and the History Department at Haverford. In addition, I want to thank the Association for Religion and Intellectual Life's Coolidge Fellows Program, and my fellow participants in the 2003 Summer Research Colloquium.

2. "Religion," Time, October 11, 1948, 87-89.

3. Joan Shelly Rubin, The Making of Middlebrow Culture (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), xii-xiii.

4. Rufus M. Jones, "The Habit of Reading," The Watchword, March 13, 1921, Dayton, OH.

5. Unsigned editorial note, Religious Book Club Bulletin, March 1936, 5.

6. For an expansive history of "mysticism" as an intellectual category, see Leigh Eric Schmidt, "The Making of Modern 'Mysticism', " Journal of the American Academy of Religion 71:2 (June 2003): 273-302.

7. Rufus M. Jones, Social Law in the Spiritual World: Studies in Human and Divine Inter-Relationship (Philadelphia: The John C. Winston Co., 1904), 9-10.

8.  See Elizabeth Gray Vining, Friend of Life: The Biography of Rufus M. Jones (New York: J.B. Lippincott: 1958).

9. Diana Alten, "Rufus Jones and the American Friend: A Quest for Unity," Quaker History 74 (Spring 1985): 41-48.

10.  See Schmidt, "The Making of Modern 'Mysticism'." Other leading mysticism scholars of the era included Dean W. R. Inge, Evelyn Underhill, and Baron Friedrich von Hügel, and, a bit later, Rudolf Otto, in addition to Jones and William James.

11. Jones, Social Law in the Spiritual World, 15.

12. Jones, Social Law in the Spiritual World, 66.

13.  See Meador, Keith G., “My Own Salvation': The Christian Century and Psychology's Secularizing of American Protestantism," in Christian Smith, ed., The Secular Revolution: Power, Interests, and Conflict in the Secularization of American Life (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2003), 269-309.

14. Rufus M. Jones, New Studies In Mystical Religion; as quoted in Elizabeth Gray Vining, Friend of Life: The Biography of Rufus M. Jones (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1958), 257-258.

15. Jones, Social Law in the Spiritual World, 19-20.

16. Jones, Social Law in the Spiritual World, 152, 153.

17. Jones, Social Law in the Spiritual World, 198.

18. Rufus M. Jones, "The Mystic's Experience of God," The Atlantic Monthly, November 1922, 638.

19. Rufus M. Jones, Spiritual Energies in Daily Life (New York: Macmillan, 1922), xi.

20. Rufus M. Jones, New Eyes for Invisible (New York: Macmillan, 1944), 3.

21. Pathways to the Reality of God, September 1931; A Preface to Christian Faith in a New Age, May 1932; The Testimony of the Soul, April 1936; A Call to What Is Vital, October 1948. Many other Rufus Jones titles were alternate selections.

22. G. Ernest Thomas, Six 20th-Century Mystics: Their Devotional Practices (Nashville: The Upper Room, 1955).

23.  See A Boy's Religion from Memory (Philadelphia: Ferris, 1902); Finding the Trail of Life (New York: Macmillan, 1926); The Trail of Life in College (New York: Macmillan, 1929); The Trail of Life in the Middle Years (New York: Macmillan, 1934); A Small-Town Boy (New York: Macmillan, 1941).

24. Gary Dorrien, The Making of American Liberal Theology: Idealism, Realism and Modernity, 1900-1950 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 560.

25. Luther E. Smith, Jr., Howard Thurman: The Mystic as Prophet (Washington, DC: The University Press of America, 1981), 27.

26. Dorrien, The Making of American Liberal Theology: Idealism, Realism and Modernity, 1900-1950, 560, 561.

27. Howard Thurman, Mysticism and the Experience of Love, quoted in Smith, Howard Thurman, 29.

28. Dorrien, The Making of American Liberal Theology: Idealism, Realism and Modernity, 1900-1950, 559.

29. Dorrien, The Making of American Liberal Theology: Idealism, Realism and Modernity, 1900-1950, 566.

30. Howard Thurman, "Mysticism and Social Change," in Walter Earl Fluker and Catherine Tumber, eds., A Strange Freedom: The Best of Howard Thurman on Religious Experience and Public Life (Boston: Beacon Press, 1998), 121.

31. Thurman, "Mysticism and Social Change," 122-123.

32. Harry Emerson Fosdick, ed., Rufus Jones Speaks to Our Time: An Anthology (New York: Macmillan, 1951), v.

33. Gleaned from a database of sermon titles at the Harry Emerson Fosdick Papers, The Riverside Church, New York.

34.  Sydney Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972), 1035.

35. Rufus M. Jones, "Mystical Experience," The Atlantic Monthly, May 1942, 634.

36. Jones, "Mystical Experience," 635.

37. Jones, "Mystical Experience," 641.

38. Thomas Merton to Sister Therese Lentfoehr, February 25, 1950, Thomas Merton Papers, Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New York.

39. Thomas Merton to Sister Therese Lentfoehr, December 27, 1948, Thomas Merton Papers, Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New York.

40. Thomas Merton to Robert Lax, November 24, 1948, Thomas Merton Papers, Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New York.

41. Jones Diary, November 21, 1926, Rufus Jones Papers, Quaker Collection, Haverford College Library, Haverford, PA.

42.  Swami Akhilananda to Dr. Henry J. Cadbury, November 23, 1947, Rufus Jones Papers, Quaker Collection, Haverford College Library, Haverford, PA. Akhilananda asked that Cadbury forward his review to Jones.

43.  Schmidt, "The Making of Modern 'Mysticism'," 290.

44.  Schmidt, "The Making of Modern 'Mysticism'," 276.

Copyright of Cross Currents is the property of Association for Religion & Intellectual Life and its content may not be copied without the copyright holder's express written permission except for the print or download capabilities of the retrieval software used for access. This content is intended solely for the use of the individual user.
Source: Cross Currents, Summer 2004, Vol. 54,  No 2.