391: Readers tell us about America’s mystical traditions, Wizard of Oz and a gateway to High Callings online

nce again, you’ve filled our mailbag! So, today ReadTheSpirit reflects what you want to talk about. It’s our Friday Reader Roundup … Oh, and if you’re missed our earlier invitations: COME ALONG ON THE ADVENTURE: OUR LENT

America’s History of Mysticism
Takes Readers to a Mail-Order Guru
— and Off to See the Wizard, Too!

on Wednesday was packed with lots of unusual stories and anecdotes. We’re getting various questions and tips from readers related to this story — and keep your notes coming, please. We’re sure to write more about Horowitz’s work in coming months.

    The No. 1 question I’ve heard since Wednesday is: When will Mitch’s new book go on sale?
    As we reported on Wednesday, it will be available in September. And, yes, in answer to a second question: I do think it will be an interesting book for small-group study — although I need to stress that I have not yet seen a galley of the book.

    Next question: “D.J.,” a high school student in southern California Emailed, saying, “I’d like to write a history paper on this man you described with the mail-order church in the Depression. Can you send me more information?”
    Well, I can’t send out more information myself. But Mitch does have a whole article on this quirky religious leader on his own Web site, headlined “Mail-Order Prophet.”

    AND: Thank you, Marie Peters! A retired teacher from Florida, Marie is a “Wizard of Oz” fan and responded to the section of that article about Oz author L. Frank Baum. (That’s Baum above at left with the mustache. And, at right is the “Hungry Tiger” mentioned in Wednesday’s story.)
    “You usually give us other Web sites we can visit, but you didn’t give us anything on Baum. I think you should tell people about the International Oz Club,” Marie wrote. And, so — thanks to Marie — we’ve just given you that Web link.
    Marie also asked, “I’ve looked around the club site and can’t find much on Baum and the Theosophists. Any suggestion where to go to read more on this?”
    Sure! (And Marie herself provided a good suggestion.)

    Most “Wizard of Oz” web sites have very little material about the original Oz author, L. Frank Baum. Those sites that do include material on Baum have very little about Baum’s approach to religion and spirituality. Check out Baum’s Wikipedia entry, for example, and you’ll see that there’s much more information about his political positions than his religious views.
    One of the helpful resources on this theme was a 1986 article in The American Theosophist, which I’ve had in my own “paper files” for two decades. Now, the article is online — Marie spotted it in a Google search and wrote: “I don’t know much about the background of this story, but I found it interesting.”
    Marie — I agree. You’ve found one of the few overviews of this subject readily available for readers online.

Here’s more:

    First: Here’s another intriguing story available online — talking about Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author of the Tarzan books, and Baum in relation to Theosophy.
    From the Theosophical Society itself, there are links to articles written over the years with spiritual interpretations of Oz and Baum’s work.
    Here are Baum books you can download and read for free from Project Gutenberg, including most of his works related to Oz.
    Finally: Here’s a quirky little Web site that’s a gateway to various Baum works scattered across the Internet. Some of the links on this page don’t work. It’s actually part of a much bigger Internet archive. But you may find some interesting lesser-known works here that are fun to read.
    As a longtime religion writer, I can say: All of the links we’re providing today are intriguing. I’m not a Baum scholar and can’t verify details in these stories, but if this subject intrigues you — take a look and, please, tell us what you think.

A Reader Tip
in Finding “High Calling”

BLOGGER PAM STOUT wrote this week
to recommend a Web site that she’s been enjoying for some time. We welcome this kind of tip from our readers — so think about sending along your own suggestion of great spiritual resources online. Pam wrote to us …

I just wanted to share with you a wonderful online community I’ve found:www.HighCallingBlogs.com It’s a network of personal websites focused on the intersection of
faith and work, and a “safe place” to ask difficult
    HighCalling has given me a place to explore and discover writings from a wide variety of Christian perspectives — conservative or
progressive, serious or hilarious, family or professional, and always
inspirational. But it’s not just a compendium of blogs; it’s a real
community. HighCalling offers technical and educational support for
those of us new to this online world. They also serve as a community
of fellow Christians to make connections, encourage one another, and
offer prayer and support through personal trials. While I haven’t
spent a tremendous amount of time in the network, I’ve been impressed
with the spirit of this “place.”
    There’s a lot of news about there about online dangers and distractions. This distraction is a really good one.

    Thank you, Pam! (Pam’s own Web site is Beyond Just Mom.)

A Fascinating Week
in OurValues.org about —
What’s “Necessary” for the Good Life …

 WE WON’T REPEAT ALL THE READER COMMENTS that came in this week at Dr. Wayne Baker’s www.OurValues.org landing page. But the exchanges have been spirited this week!
    Dr. Baker explored “necessities,” because it’s the Lenten season for millions — and because most Americans, whatever their faith, are re-evaluating their financial priorities in these turbulent times.
    Dr. Baker hit close to home for many of us, asking about our electronic gear and especially our mobile devices. Check out OurValues, especially if you’re wrestling with life’s essential values this week.

PLEASE, Tell Us What You Think.
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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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