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Talking To The Other Side Essay

1658 words - 7 pages

In Todd Jay Leonard’s book, Talking to the Other Side, he explores how mostly Judeo-Christian roots evolving into radical Puritan religions of the 17th and 18th centuries in America played a role in the formation of a religious movement that would and still does, cater to the needs of those who could not find satisfaction in such fundamentalist Christian religions. He subsequently talks about how Spiritualism, which “provided people with a renewed sense of hope philosophically, that there was something beyond this earthly experience…and [that] no matter how sinful a person was in life on earth, salvation and redemption was at hand for those who were willing to work toward it in spirit” (Leonard 2005, 72-73), would help to provide a more solidified purpose to practicing such religion. Therefore, Leonard most significantly helps the reader to see how Spiritualism “offers new insight into the movement [of Spiritualist mediums], in general, and more so into the motivations and personal lives of the mediums themselves” (Leonard 2005, 199).
Leonard’s book is divided into two basic sections, with “Chapters 1 and 2 constitut[ing] an overview of religion and mediumship in general, [and] Chapters 3 and 4 deal[ing] entirely with Spiritualism and mediumship as is done by Spiritualist mediums” (Leonard 2005, xxiv). Therefore, he is able to present the historical emphasis on how Spiritualism developed, from the roots of Puritan Fundamentalism to the first reported account of Spiritualism in 1848 with the Fox sisters. Initially, he introduces the first chapter with talking about Native Americans in North America and their ancestral and spiritual ceremonies in order to connect with the world that is beyond. He proceeds to unite religions of all backgrounds in this first chapter, as he describes the Genesis story of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles and compares them to such Native American tribes as the Hopi, in the idea that one account states, “two Hard Being women (deities of hard objects such as shells, corals, turquoise, and beads) caused dry land to appear and then created birds, animals, a woman and a man” (Leonard 2005, 6). The correlation here is simple to witness.
Additionally, he describes quite rapidly the eventual role of the Catholic Church as the harbinger of the faith up until the Reformation era, and precedes to elaborate further on the reformed tactics of not just Church Doctrine, but of even smaller religious groups such as the Puritans and Pilgrims who would eventually travel to the New World “looking for a new home in which to practice their religion freely” (Leonard 2005, 15). This, although accomplished, says Leonard, took a tumultuous turn around the late 1600s concerning the Salem Witch Trials and the treatment of women in such an unpredictable situation. A very overt theory that the author has come up with relating to this era in American religious history is the “misogynistic tendency of the Puritans [in regard to] a...

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