March 27, 2023

THE ENGLISH IN INDIA PART I. ⸻ Charles Johnston’s history of British rule in India from his essays “The English In India” (May 1909 issue of The North American Review,) and “A Perspective On India,” (December 1926 issue of The Atlantic Monthly.) I have included minor spelling edits for sake of clarity, and expanded some references which are found in the brackets. —S. ⸻   In much that has been written recently in a sense hostile to the work of... Read more

March 26, 2023

PART I   This provocatively titled post is an “appendix” of sorts, for the cross-cultural story “The Agonized Womb of Consciousness.” Rather than shy way from the unavoidable themes/terminology in the series like “aryan” and “swastika,” we will explore their origins, and the etiology of their valence. To avoid the disruption in the narrative flow of the series, I’m “front-loading” the dreaded exposition for context and reference. As this series will focus primarily on Charley Johnston’s experience as a Theosophist... Read more

March 18, 2023

  CHARLEY.     It was the curse of mankind that these incongruous [provinces of good and ill which divide and compound man’s dual nature] were thus bound together—that in the agonized womb of consciousness, these polar twins should continuously be struggling. How, then, were they dissociated?—Robert Louis Stevenson. (Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.)     The protagonist of our story, Charles Johnston, or “Charley” as he was known to friends, was born in Ballykilbeg, County Down,... Read more

March 5, 2023

SWORD OF LIVING FLAME. New York City, March 7, 1898.     “The light is the sword of war that presages conflict,” said one of the street preachers in Union Square. “It appeared in the sky before the Revolution! It appeared in 1861, before the Civil War.” Hundreds of men, still alive in New York, swore they had seen a light, just like the flaming sword, in various places in the South, just before the Civil War. Some even said... Read more

February 14, 2023

  CONSCIENTIOUS CLERGYMAN. JUNE 31, 1906. Four months before the Mitchell hosted the Talks at The Benedick, Bishop Potter delivered a sermon in which he stated: “If the city rector doe not take his Summer vacation of three, four, six. or eight weeks…he will go mad or be will deteriorate into what his constituents least desire, a mere machine.” A reporter from The New York Times named “ION” interviewed Rev. Percy S. Grant to get his opinion on the statement.... Read more

February 12, 2023

SILENCE. November 11, 1907. On October 21, 1907, a year after the first discussion at The Benedick, a meeting was held for the purpose of reorganizing and formalizing the “Philosophical Club” at Columbia University. At the meeting in which Woodbridge was elected honorary president, a committee of officers was elected, and the topic of merging with the Ethical Society was discussed. Max Eastman debated “The Relation of Ethics and Metaphysics,” which Dewey summarized before the topic was opened for discussion.... Read more

February 12, 2023

HAS THE CHURCH FAILED? July, 1907. The following discussion occurred sometime in the week of July 21-July 27, 1907, when New York was experiencing a heatwave. ⸻ Some weeks later Manhattan was scorching in a sudden breathless heat. Mitchell’s personal affairs had kept him in town longer than was his wont, till he had grown used to solitary dining in deserted clubs and restaurants. This afternoon, however, as he passed from the quivering glare of the streets to the dim... Read more

February 12, 2023

SIGNS OF THE TIMES. May 22, 1907. On Sunday, May 19, 1907, the Rabbi Stephen Wise delivered a sermon, “The Possibilities of Religious Fellowship,” at Church of the Ascension, in connection with The New York State Conference of Religion. Rabbi Wise opened the Free Synagogue in Manhattan a month earlier, and was, in some regards, a Jewish counterpart to Grant. Wise began his career as assistant Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York’s Upper West Side. From 1900-1906 Wise... Read more

February 12, 2023

ORGANIZATION AND RELIGION. April 17, 1907. “To put this evening’s subject in its proper connection with what has preceded,” said Mitchell, “it will be necessary to go back two meetings. You will remember that Miller, being then requested to open the discussion, gave us the choice of four topics, of which we promptly selected all. He complied so far as to present three of them, which formed a fairly connected sequence of different aspects of individual religious feeling. The fourth... Read more

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