Holy Order of MANS

The Holy Order of MANS was a religious order grounded in what it viewed as the esoteric teachings of "The Great Christ" through "The Master Jesus", which identifies it as New Age.[1] The order was founded in the 1960s "in the culturally innovative milieu of San Francisco", US, and over time grew into a more traditional Eastern Orthodox sect, finally renaming itself "Christ the Savior Brotherhood" (CSB); according to religious scholars, the group provides a "paradigmatic example" of the kind of development that such groups experienced.[2][3]

Logo for the Holy Order of MANS

HistoryEdit

The founder was Earl Wilbur Blighton, a retired electrical engineer and mail-order minister, who used the honorific Rt. Rev.[4] and was also known as Master Paul. A number of his previous religious associations included the Roman Catholic Church, Spiritualism, New Thought and the Rosicrucian Order.[5][6] The stated mission and purpose of the Holy Order of MANS was to guide all mankind and the churches of Christ to union with the Divine Self of God within, the Divine Spark. According to Blighton, the Christ is returning now, in this new age, as the Golden Force—the vibration of the atmosphere of the entire planet is rising, and this action will cause violent reactions, including death, in those who do not know the God Self and have not mastered their body.[7] A willing intellectual and emotional assent to religious doctrine or dogma was not enough. Full experiential knowledge (gnosis) of God beyond merely intuitive spiritual insight was true redemption.[8] The principal means of effecting this was by the praxis of theurgy and bhakti.[9]

The Holy Order of MANS was described as "apostolic catholic", and some used the term "Pauline catholic or Paulean catholic", in its claim of possessing received esoteric apostolic doctrine without the necessity of canonical ordination in the line of Orthodox Catholic apostolic succession.[10]

Several years after the death of its founder in 1974 (and subsequent to the 1980s cult-scare generated by the hundreds of deaths at Jonestown on 17 November 1978), in an effort to distance itself from association with the New Age in the mind of the public, beginning in 1984 the HOOM gradually changed,[2][11] through adoption of spiritual practices common in Orthodox Christianity, which prompted the departure of some members. Father Andrew Rossi became Blighton's successor.[12] Then in 1988, after little more than two decades of existence, the HOOM dissolved. Since 1988 it has splintered into many groups including the Science of Man in Oregon, which was led by Blighton's wife Ruth until her death in 2005,[13] and the Gnostic Order of Christ, founded by HOOM "Master Timothy" Delbert Harris.[14] In 1988, after denouncing what they perceived as heresy in the fundamental doctrines of the Order, many of the remaining members and hierarchy of the HOOM joined the Orthodox Church under the new name Christ the Savior Brotherhood (abbreviated CSB). While the leader of the archdiocese which CSB joined does not belong to the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, Rossi argued that "doesn't mean that HOM has not moved into Christian orthodoxy".[15] Under the terms of the merger, the group continued to have a great deal of autonomy. Members who took second vows within the group still wore robes and clerical collars.[15] Legal ownership of HOOM property and assets was retained by the CSB but remained incorporated under the name Holy Order of MANS.[2][6][15]

In 1991, Rossi resigned as director-general of the CSB under pressure from the hierarchy within the brotherhood. The CSB agreed under the terms of his resignation to fund the departure of himself and his family, and with them he travelled to England with sufficient CSB financial support to pursue a doctoral degree in Orthodox studies at the University of Oxford under Kallistos Ware. During the 1990s to about 2000, many members of the CSB individually joined canonical jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church. In 1992 Orthodox church leaders said the Christ the Savior Brotherhood had dwindled to about 500 members.[6] In 2000, after removing itself from non-canonical autocephalous Orthodox affiliation, the CSB with its people, parishes and monasteries, having claimed to have replaced esoteric mystical New Age practices with mainline Orthodox doctrine and practice, was fully received into canonical Orthodox jurisdictions. In 2002 the CSB officially changed its corporation name from Holy Order of MANS to Christ the Saviour Brotherhood, and changed its New Age corporate by-laws to newly worded corporate by-laws that reflect Orthodoxy.

Many former members of the original Holy Order of MANS who had departed in the 1980s, who have not become Orthodox Christian and are not associated with the CSB, claim to have preserved the original teachings and practices of the Order and made them available through development of internet sites.

ScholarshipEdit

As Sarah A. Riccardi-Swartz explains, "very little is written" about the order, though it has been written up in a few studies of new age religions. The one monograph on the order which was available by the time of Ricccardi-Swartz's study is Philip Lucas's 'The Odyssey of a New Religion: The Holy Order of MANS From New Age to Orthodoxy (Indiana UP, 1995).[16]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Lucas, Phillip. The Odyssey of a New Religion: The Holy Order of MANS from New Age to Orthodoxy: Indiana University Press: Indianapolis, IN, 1995
  2. ^ a b c Lucas, Philip (1998). "From Holy Order of MANS to Christ the Savior Brotherhood: The Radical Transformation of an Esoteric Christian Order". In Miller, Timothy (ed.). America's Alternative Religions. SUNY Press. pp. 141–48. ISBN 9780791423974.
  3. ^ Melton, J. Gordon. 1992. Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America, revised and updated ed. Garland, 1986, 1992. ISBN 0-8153-0502-8.
  4. ^ "Rt. Rev." title of a Master Teacher of the Holy Order of MANS—current documentation of Christian ordination of Earl W. Blighton as a minister, priest, or bishop is inconclusive or missing (date=12 June 2013). —"Trials of Founder of Order of Mans", Rev. Lester Kinsolving, San Francisco Chronicle, December 24, 1972.
  5. ^ Lucas, Philip Charles. Profile: Holy Order of MANS. Profiles of Religious and Spiritual Groups, World Religions & Spirituality Project VCU, David G. Bromley, Project Director.
  6. ^ a b c Latin, Don. "Suddenly Orthodox", This World, May 31, 1992.
  7. ^ Holy Order of MANS.org. The Golden Force, in-house published book. HOOM. San Francisco, CA. 1970. Chapter 11 – The Blind Man Sees.
  8. ^ Holy Order of MANS.org. Book of Alchemy. Chapter 11.
  9. ^ Holy Order of MANS.org. Book of Order and Book of Alchemy. Also Transcribed Lectures and Classes given by Father Paul Blighton. Initiation and Ritual. Lecture by Father Paul. Tape 814.
  10. ^ Plummer, John. The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental movement, 2nd ed.: Apocryphile Press, Berkeley, CA, 2006
  11. ^ Latta, Bob. "MANS Order Contends with Occult Image", San Francisco Chronicle, May 26, 1980
  12. ^ Partridge 2006, p. 89.
  13. ^ Mary K. Greer's Tarot Blog: Holy Order of MANS Tarot. July 18, 2008.
  14. ^ Athitakis, Mark. Awkward Christian Soldiers, San Francisco Weekly, 12/12/1999. POKROV.org.
  15. ^ a b c "Holy Order of MANS sect changes name, joins Eastern Orthodox Church". Christian Research Journal. Summer 1988.
  16. ^ Riccardi-Schwartz, Sarah A. (10 November 2016). "Holy Order of MANS". In Kurian, George Thomas; Lamport, Mark A. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States. 5. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 1122–24. ISBN 9781442244320.

Works citedEdit

  • Partridge, Christopher (2006). "The Holy Order of MANS". In Partridge, Christopher (ed.). Uusien uskontojen käsikirja: Uudet uskonnolliset liikkeet, lahkot ja vaihtoehtoisen henkisyyden muodot [Encyclopedia of New Religions: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities] (in Finnish). Helsinki: Kirjapaja. pp. 88–89. ISBN 951-607-327-1.