History of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion

History of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion

The following is esssentially quoted from the program of SSMR's 2001 Regional Conference

The history of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion (SSMR) is the history of an academic and religious-professional society dedicated to the study and discussion of a wide variety of philosophical, theological, social, and historical concerns surrounding what are popularly known as "metaphysical religions," which emerged in nineteenth-century America and subsequently spread to Europe, Africa, Japan, and the rest of the world.

On November 19, 1988, about twenty-five persons met in Chicago during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), and voted to create the Society as an academic and professional organization. The Society publishes the only academic journal devoted to "metaphysical religions"--Journal of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion (JSSMR).

Our mission is to advance and enrich the study of metaphysical religions by offering support and encouragement to scholarly endeavors in this field. We welcome the interest and support of persons who recognize the value of this project. We gratefully receive gifts of time, talent, and money for this purpose.

SSMR brings together members of the scholarly community, faculty and students at schools and seminaries in the metaphysical movement, and religious professionals in the metaphysical movement to discuss, present, and publish papers on issues such as:

The impact of the metaphysical tradition on American culture
Theological systems and specific topics in metaphysical religious groups
The history of the metaphysical tradition-including its "pre-history"
The history and methods of Biblical interpretation in the metaphysical tradition
Popular religious idealism
The relationship of metaphysical communities to other religions/denominations
Methodologies for the study of the metaphysical tradition and individual groups
The material culture of metaphysical religions
The practice of spiritual healing in metaphysical communities
The role of minority groups and women in metaphysical communities
Textual studies of primary scriptures and "text books" of metaphysical communities
Rhetoric and language studies
Demographic studies of the metaphysical tradition and individual groups
The relationship of the metaphysical tradition to popular culture

The Society holds annual national meetings in connection with annual meetings of the International New Thought Alliance. It also holds regional conferences in various parts of the USA in October. At these events the Society hosts programs and colloquia devoted to the presentation of academic papers, reports, and studies "in progress" on issues and themes of relevance to its goals. SSMR is committed to establishing space on the schedule of annual meetings of The American Academy of Religion for the presentation of papers on metaphysical movements. SSMR is committed to developing a scholarly base for studies in metaphysical religions, and to supporting academic inquiries in this area. Among its long-range goals are:

To further awareness of metaphysical religion among scholars of religion, history, sociology, philosophy, and other disciplines interested in the relationship of religion and culture.
To publish standard reference materials on metaphysical religion, such as encyclopedias, monographs, biographical dictionaries, bibliographies, study guides, and textbooks.
To assist metaphysical schools and seminaries in improving curricula and faculty as they move toward higher academic and professional levels.
To create scholarships for graduate students whose focus is on the metaphysical tradition.
To establish dialogue between religious leaders in the metaphysical community and their counterparts in other religious communities.
To assist in the development of library and archival holdings at metaphysical schools.

A Short Historical Summary of SSMR Regional Conferences

1995 Location: Unity Church of Clearwater
Oct. 11-13 Theme: Overcoming Challenges in New Thought Research and Interpretation
Plenary Address: "Overcoming Challenges in The Study of New Thought History"
Arens Case" - J. Gordon Melton, Institute for the Study of American Religion and University of California at Santa Barbara

1996 Location: Unity Church of Clearwater
Oct. 18 Theme: The History of Religious Idealism and Doing Historical Theology in Religious Idealism
Plenary Address: "Prolegomena To Philosophical Idealism"
- John Miller, University of South Florida

1997 Location: Emma Curtis Hopkins College and Theological Seminary, Clearwater, FL
Oct. 16-17 Theme: Exploring the Past, Considering the Future of Religious Idealism
Plenary Address: "Pluralistic Idealism" - C. Alan Anderson, Curry College

1998 Location: Unity-Progressive Prayer Center, Madeira Beach, FL
Oct. 23-24 Theme: Metaphysical Movements and Cultures in Transition
Plenary Address: "Love and The Metaphysical Movements"
- Ruth Whitney, University of South Florida

1999 Location: Unity Church of Clearwater
Oct. 22-23 Theme: What Do We Mean By the "Metaphysical" Tradition?
Plenary Address: "Metaphysics in the Metaphysical Movement"
- C. Alan Anderson, Curry College

2000 Location: Embassy Suites, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Oct. 27-28 Theme: The History of Myths and the Mythic History of the Metaphysical Religions
Plenary Address: "How Divine Science Got to Denver and What This Tells Us About the Early Expansion of Hopkins' Work In the Far West"
- J. Gordon Melton, Institute for the Study of American Religion

2001 Location: California State University, Fullerton, CA
Oct. 26-27 Theme: The Metaphysical Tradition and Its Movements
Plenary Address: "Reconsidering Nature Religions"
- Catherine Albanese, University of California at Santa Barbara
Because of difficulties following events of Sept. 11, 2001, the conference was cancelled.

2002 No Regional Conference was held.

Material formerly at SSMR main web site:

On Saturday afternoon, June 30, 2001, SSMR, at the INTA Congress, SSMR presented at Harrah's Hotel in Las Vegas, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of R. M. Bucke's Cosmic Consciousness the following speakers and topics:

John H. Buchanan: Cosmic Consciousness in a Process Cosmology: A consideration of cosmic consciousness in light of James's and Whitehead's philosophies.
Hyatt Carter: Light and Levity in Mysticism and the New Physics
Leddy Hammock: Precious and few: of the three dozen cases of cosmic consciousness, only a few are women, but they are precious.
Paul A. Laughlin: Bucke that never stops:cosmic consciousness after 100 years.

On Friday, July 14, 2000, from 1:00 to 4:00, the SSMR offered the following, in the LaJolla Ballroom of the San Antonio Omni Hotel, at the INTA 85th annual Congress:

Topic: "Evolving Understanding of Metaphysical Foundations"

Rod Hyatt Carter- "The Revolution in Metaphysics: A Mandate for Rethinking Religious Science" A Reconceptulaziation of Religious Science in light of the Process Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne.
William Marts - "Imagintelligence: Beyond Emotional Intelligence" Explains the direct link between imaginings and emotion in the mind/body connection as well as the universal mind.
Noel McInnis - "The Metaphysics of Forgiveness" Forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past.
Deb Whitehouse - "A Creative Look at Creativity" We're more creative than we think we are; creativity involves everyone and everything.
Robert Winterhalter - "New Thought Eschatology at the Turn of the Millennium" Healing and Transforming the Planetary Consciousness.
Presider, Alan Anderson

The program of the Oct. 2000 Regional Conference can be found here.

The program of the Oct. 1999 Regional Conference can be found here.

The July 1999 presentation of papers, on the theme Metaphysical Foundations, for the SSMR was held in conjunction with the International New Thought Alliance Congress at the Safety Harbor Resort & Spa, Safety Harbor, Florida, in the Baranoff room, on Friday afternoon, 1:30-4:30, July 30, 1999:

Arthur Smith - "A Sustainable Metaphysic of Faith"

Susanne Freeborn - "Frontiers of New Thought: Metaphysics, Mysticism, and Meaning"

Paul Laughlin - "Of Circus Bears and Bicycles, Metaphysics and Healing: The East Knows Best"

Alan Anderson - "God Is Not All, But God Is In All, So Be of Good Cheer"

Presider, Robert Winterhalter

The SSMR business meeting was held on Thursday at 9:00-10:30 a.m., and the Board met on Wednesday at 11:45 and at a time that was announced.

The Fourth Annual SSMR Regional Conference, was held Friday and Saturday, October 23 and 24, 1998, at the Unity-Progressive Prayer Center, 205 150 Ave., Madeira Beach , FL 33708. The theme will be "Metaphysical Movements and Cultures in Transition." Among the presentations were
"Why, Whether, When?: On the Importance of Establishing a New Thought Liberal Arts College" by Charles R. Throckmorton, Minister U-P. Prayer Center
"The Central Doctrines of the Alice Bailey Writing and Their Roots in the Theosophy of H. P. Blavatsky" by Maureen Temple Richmond, author of Sirius.

The 1998 summer session of presentations--devoted to New Thought education--was held in conjunction with the International New Thought Alliance Congress/Expo in Scottsdale, AZ, on Friday, July 17, 1998:
Robert Winterhalter - "Keynote Address" Preparing the New thought leaders of the 21st Century.
Ramada Valley Ho Resort, Pow Wow Rooms "A/B"
Helen Carry - "ABC's for the 21st Century"
Charles Throckmorton - "A New Thought College"
Clem Gifford - "Rediscovering Spirituality in Relationships"
Eunice E. Gifford - "Understanding Truth Principles"
Blaine C. Mays - "Educating to Serve"
Noel F. McInnis - "The Metaphysics of the Internet"
Angelo Pizelo - "Education in the 21st Century"
Presider, Alan Anderson

The Annual Regional Conference, with the theme "Exploring the Past, Considering the Future of Religious Idealism" was held October 16-17, 1997, at Emma Curtis Hopkins Theological Seminary, and was hosted by Unity-Clearwater Church, 2465 Nursery Road, Clearwater, FL 34624. Audiotapes of the Oct. 16 and 17 presentations are available, on a love-offering basis, from this church.

The program was: Thursday, October 16, 1997

Opening and Announcements (Rob Hammock)
"Hagiography In A New Thought Movement" (Bob Easton-Waller) Robin Tuthill, Presider
"New Meanings from Old Methods: Contemporary Allegorical Interpretation of Scripture" (Jeanne Hopper) - Charles Throckmorton, Presider
"A Course in Miracles: The Manifestation of Revelation in the Postmodern Culture (Judith Tafelski) - Dieter Randolph, Presider

Friday, October 17, 1997

Registration (love offering)
New Thought Education Conference - C. Alan Anderson, Chair.
"Parapsychology and the Future of Idealism" (John F. Miller, III)
"New Thought Ministers Assess Their Movement in a Time of Transition: Overview of the Demographic Survey of New Thought Leaders" (Gage Chapel) - Dell deChant, Presider
"How Many Is One?" (Deborah G. Whitehouse)
Plenary Address: "Pluralistic Idealism: Only Mind; Many Minds" (C. Alan Anderson) - Leddy Hammock, Presider. An abbreviated version of this presentation can be found here. The same tape includes both Anderson and Whitehouse presentations.

At the SSMR's presentation of papers, on "Work in Progress," Friday, July 18, 1997, 3:45-5:45, Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel, Fort Lauderdale, FL, in conjunction with the International New Thought Alliance Expo, held there July 16-20, the following were given:

Herman Aaftink - The "N" of I.N.T.A. New ideas for the New Thought Philosophy.

Alan Anderson - Working Toward a Panentheistic New Thought Synergizing theism and pantheism. An updated understanding of how God works.

Paul A. Laughlin - Returning East: Watering the Withered Oriental Roots of New Thought A reexamination and reaffirmation of the long-forgotten connections between New Thought and the spirituality and philosophy of Southern and Eastern Asia.

Jane Weaver - Taking it to the Streets: New Thought in Formal Organizations Modern organization development practices have created an opening for bringing New Thought to the workplace.

Deb Whitehouse - Practicing the Presence of God for Practical Purposes A sneak preview of our new book about New Thought.

Robert Winterhalter - Works in Progress: Healing The medical profession considers spiritual healing.

Presider, Bill Nelson


Created Oct. 3, 2001, by Alan Anderson

Latest update Oct. 11, 2001

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