Articles - Alan > Remembering SSMR

 

Remembering SSMR

I am saddened to write that the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion is no longer active. It had its beginning partly as a result of my giving a talk at the American Academy of Religion, meeting in Boston in the late eighties. Following that, some of us formed an independent, academically-oriented organization called the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion. Partly because one member’s superior objected to his joining what was considered a religious organization, SSMR was created as an independent organization linked to INTA by a committee that I headed, which coordinated the relationship of the two bodies. From the beginning of SSMR its presentations were offered at INTA annual Congresses, but occasionally there were regional presentations. This somewhat complicated arrangement lasted for many years but was eventually simplified, and SSMR for the last few years has been a part of INTA. It has made significant contributions to New Thought scholarship through the reading of papers describing the work of its members and associates and through donations to the INTA Archives. For many years, SSMR’s president was the late Robert Winterhalter. Its most recent president was Sam Bowman.

I must be the only person still living on this planet who played active roles in both SSMR and the pioneering New Thought organization, Boston's Metaphysical Club. After the Club lost its headquarters near Copley Square, the late Nevart Najarian and I arranged for its Sunday evening presentations to be given in a Boston hotel. Although Nevart probably never has been given public recognition apart from this writing, she was a outstanding example of one who lived her life in accordance with the highest standards of good will and helpfulness to others. Despite being nearly blind, she earned her Ph.D. degree in philosophy at Boston University, chiefly taught by noted Personalist Edgar S. Brightman. She was qualified to teach in higher education, but the job she obtained was to teach homebound pupils in the Boston public schools. It was she, rather than any of my formal teachers, who emphasized that I should study the thought of Alfred North Whitehead. Nevart and I were able to keep the Metaphysical Club going for a few more years.

Among the founders of the Metaphysical Club were Horatio W. Dresser, son of Julius Dresser and Annetta Seabury, who met as patients in "the father of New Thought" P. P. Quimby’s office; and Henry Wood. I wrote my doctoral dissertation in philosophy on Horatio Dresser; and my wife, Deb Whitehouse, recently has been doing research on Henry Wood, some of which she reported in a paper for SSMR last year. Even though the formal organization no longer operates, the work in the spirit of SSMR is continuing through Deb’s work, the work of Ronald A. Hughes on P.P. Quimby, and the work of other scholars. Ron’s work is available at http://www.ppquimby.com, as are recordings of the SSMR presentations made in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of P. P. Quimby. Many of Deb’s and my papers for SSMR are available at our website, http://www.neweverymoment.com .