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Mysticism in Bootle : Victorian supernaturalism as an historical problem

Heimann, Mary (2013) Mysticism in Bootle : Victorian supernaturalism as an historical problem. Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 64 (02). pp. 335-356. ISSN 0022-0469

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This article presents the case of a Victorian schoolteacher who claimed mystical experiences, including ecstacy, the stigmata and mystical espousals. Rather than attempt retrospectively either to prove or disprove these claims, the author seeks to discover where contemporaries drew the line between the natural and supernatural. Reactions shown to the schoolteacher in the 1870s and 1880s by priests, teachers, religious and doctors suggest that clear-cut oppositions between the rationalist and the credulous were uncharacteristic of the time. The more common position was to find both atheism and internally consistent Christian theology inadequate and to prefer an idiosyncratic blend of the two.