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The Remarkable Life of John Murray Spear: Agitator for the Spirit Land Hardcover – September 15, 2006
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From the Back Cover
"There is probably nobody living more qualified to write this work and nobody who has explored the available sources and contemplated the social meaning of nineteenth century spiritualism more completely than John Buescher. His contribution in this area is unprecedented and vital." --Mark A. Lause, University of Cincinnati
"John Buescher has written a lively, richly-detailed account--and sometimes free-swinging critique--of one of nineteenth-century America's most idiosyncratic and radical religious leaders. By turns warmly sympathetic to Spear and his spiritualist colleagues, then harshly critical of their 'neo-gnostic' tendencies, Buescher both tells a good story and draws many inferences for present-day religious and cultural debates. Even those who might draw different conclusions should be informed and engaged by the tale he tells." --David W. Wills, Winthrop H. Smith '16 Professor of American History and American Studies, Amherst College
"Grounded in seldom-used primary sources, this is a rigorously researched, clearly written, and fascinating biography of an important nineteenth-century radical. This volume on John Murray Spear is a valuable and necessary step to uncover the lived experience of spiritualism." --Stephen D. Andrews, Indiana University
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This book for the first time gives you the entire alternative landscape of fringe religion, social movements and experiments through the almost Baron Munchausen inner adventures of Spear. From passionate Universalist, abolition, prisoner rights, (Spear & his brother should be honored as the father of the parole movement alone), feminism, free love and finally culminating in Spiritualism. Finding a spiritual home at last he becomes an apostle of this new movement and was instrumental as a first generational Spiritualist in taking the new dispensation to England.
Additional fascinating pieces of this superb book includes for the first time a detailed history of the entire "New Motor" experiment. I recall as a child first reading tantalizing tidbits in fortean paperbacks about this Victorian "Frankenchrist" event that boggled my childish mind with gothic pleasure & beginning theology. I also discovered for the first time the Spiritualist/sewing machine connection- you'll have to read the book for this one. And unless one reads a history of the Oneida colony, you'll not find a more comprehensive survey of the free love movement in America. I hope that a copy of this work may find itself falling into the hands of a Tim Burton or Terry Gilliam, no other director could capture the visual sheer surreality of the life of the Reverend Spear. Giddily recommended.