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spiritual renegades of the St. Herman Brotherhood

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The Holy Order of MANS [Sep. 12th, 2009|12:11 am]
spiritual renegades of the St. Herman Brotherhood
The "cult"* word thrown at Christ the Savior Brotherhood here prompted me to do a bit of looking around on CSB.  I didn't find much that I didn't at least vaguely know about; but there is this somewhat interesting article by a fellow named Phillip Charles in a collection of essays housed in a book called America's Alternative Religions (1995).  I was able to read it online through the online catalog of my university library.  But if you're interested, you may have to dig up a hard copy.

"Cult" is a loaded word, of course.  Even a little thought shows that the wall between a "cult" and mainstream, accepted religion is hardly made of stone.  At any rate, this would hardly be the first time that the Holy Order of MANS or its successor would have been labeled a cult.  One important aspect of this academic article on the Order was that the whole shift away from progressive, alternative Christianity toward conservative, mainstream Christianity was, in part, motivated by the anti-cult hysteria that resulted from the Jonestown Massacre.  The larger point, however, was that most alternative religious sects, after a period of success, find themselves with dwindling membership and under heavy suspicion by the larger world.  The reaction can be either to move toward a more radical isolation from society or to outflank the critics by becoming extremely conservative and at least take on an appearance of conventional religiosity.  Of course, the latter is the choice that the Holy Order of MANS took and the author, writing in 1995, correctly predicted that CSB would move even further into the mainstream by dropping Pangratios and Fr. Herman (though, Fr. Herman, of course was not entirely done away with). 

What struck me was how closely this paralleled Mormonism (the faith of my childhood).  At first the Mormons wanted to move as far away from American society as they could.  When that proved unsustainable, they became ultra-conservative "patriots." 

I am told it is time for bed.  Goodnight.  More later perhaps.