Alexander Wilder Blog Elbert Benjamine Emma Hardinge Britten Sarah Stanley Grimké Thomas H. Burgoyne Thomas Moore Johnson

History of the Adepts Book Series in Albuquerque

At the 2019 Church of Light conference I gave a presentation related to the recently published second volume of the Thomas Moore Johnson Correspondence.  In 2021 it became possible to organize a series of publications and to produce affordable hardcovers.  By the end of the year the History of the Adepts Series consisted of five titles by four authors, some paperback, some hardcover.  I have donated copies of each title to the 2022 convention and to prepare conferees would like to explain the relationships among them and my own role in each.   In order of relevance to Church of Light members, in my estimation:

  1. For the Sarah Stanley Grimke Collected Works, I am the sole editor having written all the biographical segments and done all the annotations of the text.  Elbert Benjamine’s mention of Grimke as a co author of The Light of Egypt was the first and only clue in a print book to this effect, but family correspondence at Howard University confirmed it repeatedly.
  2. For Letters to Thomas Moore Johnson, I am the co-editor, indebted to Patrick Bowen for inaugurating the Letters to the Sage project and accomplishing much before I arrived on the scene.  In the second volume, Ronnie Pontiac contributes as much biographical introduction material as Patrick had in the first volume.  For the new hardcover condensation, I am also the publisher.
  3. The Duped Conspirator: Colonel Olcott in the Hodgson Report was originally written for a collection that did not materialize, and grew into a size too large for a chapter and too short for a book.  Hence it is a small booklet featuring Hurrychund Chintamon as pivotal in the Society for Psychical Research Investigation of the Theosophical Society.  For this I am sole author.
  4. Chintamon’s A Commentary on the Text of the Bhagavad-Gita is reproduced as published in 1874 but with new fonts, spacing, etc.  and now available only in hardcover. Here I am publisher but not editor.
  5. Pell Mell: Civil War and Reconstruction in a Carolina Pocosin is not officially listed as part of the series, but the family background of Quakers, Unionists, Native Americans, and Africans in North Carolina all relates to the Grimke family legacy and hence made me sympathetic to writing about them.
  6. Not in print, but online I have published The Quest of the Spirit on for free public access. This 1913 book was edited by Genevieve Stebbins and authored by “A Pilgrim of the Way,” her husband Norman Astley. Before relocating to England after retirement, they had spent twelve years as part time residents of the North Carolina mountains, which ties in to my NC archives research background with Pell Mell.

In future blog posts I will comment on individual cases, but my general comment is that “Religious Studies” or any variation like “Theosophical History” is never a perfect fit for the likes of Wilder, Johnson, Grimke, Chintamon, or the Astleys, all of whom are more interested in philosophy than religion. Interaction among American and South Asian writers and their mutual acquaintances in Europe 1875-1895 about encapsulates all my scholarly expertise. After forty years of immersion in writings of this period it is more clear than ever that the mutual interest and respect was based on philosophy at least as much as religion.