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Periodical: The Christian (Shelton)

Summary:  From Pat Deveney's database:

The Christian.
Put on the Whole Armour of God.

1889-1930 (?); Monthly, then weekly. 1/1, 1889-1930(?) 8 pp. (a few of 16 pp. in 1905), 50 cents--$1.00 a year (which latter price occasionally included as a premium one year of Health Vibrations sent out by Shelton daily at 4:00 p.m. to the subscriber).
Succeeds: The Arkansas Christian.

The journal celebrated its 27th year in December 1930 but its antecedent, the Arkansas Christian, was started by Thomas Jefferson Shelton, Jr. (1849-1929) in 1889 when he was pastor of the First Christian Church in Little Rock. In August 1891 it became a "metaphysical" journal and, from the volume numbering, it appears that a "new series" was begun in January 1895. Shelton had entered the ministry in 1868, abandoned it for a stint as newspaper publisher and (probably) miner, and then took up the pulpit again in Little Rock, Arkansas, only to lose that position when he announced he was the Messiah, announced from the pulpit that he had abandoned his wife to live with a Mrs. Brack, confessed to being a dipsomaniac, and was arrested for trying to raise a recently deceased parishioner from the dead. His conviction that he was a free individual and that his innermost being (his "I AM") was divine led him naturally to "Christian Science," first to study with A.P. Barton (publisher of The Life) and Charles and Myrtle Fillmore (publishers of Unity) in Kansas City, then to Helen Wilmans in Florida, publisher of Freedom, and finally to Emma Curtis Hopkins (editor of Mental Science Magazine and Mind-Cure Journal, and Truth) and George Edwin Burnell in Chicago, only to leave each in turn when their promised miracles and healing failed to impress him. (When he first went to visit Barton he wired a blind man to come at once to be healed; the man remained blind.) The teacher who most impressed Shelton was John Hamlin Dewey. "When I began the study of Christian Science and had my old orthodox religion upset, the first man to help me build a bridge on which I could cross from the old thought to the new, was John Hamlin Dewey, M.D., publisher of The New Pentecost. "He taught me that I could become a seer, a prophet, a son of God and receive my instructions direct from Headquarters. He also taught me to be careful about playing with this fire of the Holy Spirit. The one thing above all others which first helped me was his caution not to lose consciousness in the objective, not to go into a trance, but to keep possession of my own mind while listening to the Voice of the Spirit. I will not recount here the plunges I made into the realms of the Occult or the many trials and tribulations in learning the leadings of the Spirit."

In no way discouraged by the failings of some of his teachers, Shelton began preaching his own conclusions ("When we realize that in the realm of Reality there is nothing but God and his expression, then there is only a step to the statement: There is nothing but God"), and teaching that realization of oneself as the I AM gave a person the power to attract success ("Make friends with mammon. Money is a great friend. It all belongs to you. Make friends with it") and, more specifically, to heal. In his renewed journal, now called simply Christian, he began offering cures and success in life both in person and by mail order, through his ability to "enter into the silence" and direct vibrations of health to those who sought (and paid for) his services. A Wichita newspaper in 1901 credited Shelton with originating "the system of accepting money from credulous dupes that later has been widely exploited by Weltmer and other mental curists."

The journal was enormously successful and revenue from it and from Shelton's offer to send out daily healing or success "vibrations" (color-coded by desired effect) at $1.00-$10,000 a month, depending on the seeker's wherewithal, were said to have amounted to $25,000 (or $50,000, in another source) per year in 1900. This success both brought down upon him the wrath of the Post Office, which repeatedly barred him from second-class mailing privileges, and enabled him to hire the lobbyists and lawyers to withstand the government for three years. In May 1901, in connection with the Post Office's crusade against Helen Wilmans and Sidney A. Weltmer, he was indicted for fraud in promising impossible cures at a distance in the journal. (He plead guilty to publishing the journal and was fined $25.00.) In January 1900, coincidently with leaving his wife, he moved the journal to Denver ("capital of the New World which is to spring from the New Thought" and, more importantly, in a different postal district), raised the subscription price to $1.00, hedged his promises of success ("I give the treatments and leave results to the Spirit") and began at least to state that the price had to be actually paid. In 1902, to convince the Post Office of his bona fides as a journal, he changed Christian to a magazine of general interest, left off advertising his vibrations, and began publishing weekly. All of this was to no avail and in mid-1903, he threw in the towel, proclaimed himself "free" ("I don't want second class postage under any such restrictions. . . . To hell with all conditions, restrictions, and limitations to Christian!") and began to pay full postage at 16 times the second-class rate while freely touting his vibrations. In December 1902 Shelton moved to Los Angeles but continued to publish the journal from Denver. After the First World War he began offering his followers the "sunphone wireless," the ability to communicate with each other mentally, which gained him an oblique reference in Joyce's Ulysses.

Shelton was both an unashamed huckster of New Thought healing and an enthusiast and true eccentric, unconstrained by rationality or common sense, but always with an eye on the main chance. He became a bugbear and shibboleth in the movement, dividing contemporary journals and believers by his undisguised commercialism and his stark presentation of the reality of the beliefs they pretended to espouse. Even his admirers, like Herbert Parkyn in Suggestion, were well aware of the dangerousness of his ideas: "Shelton is the Denver I AM, who puts in his time editing Christian and sending out vibrations all over the world to anxious vibratees. If his vibrations are as strong as some of the articles in his journal, it is no wonder they make the faithful follower ‘feel the thrill of life along his keel.' We always ‘ground-wire' our exchange copy of Christian the moment it arrives. It is dangerous to have its vibrations playing around the place. Before we adopted the present plan it had burned out three electric light carbons, disarranged the internal apparatus of our telephone, and sent in a fire alarm from the box on the corner below us."

Shelton was perceptive enough to see that "there is a screw loose somewhere" in New Thought, as he proclaimed in 1902.

"Charles Brodie Patterson writes on 'Dominion and Power,' and yet he does not exercise dominion and power. Helen Wilmans writes a book on 'The Conquest of Death,' but she does not exhibit life in a way to prove that death has been conquered. John Hamlin Dewey writes a splendid book on 'The Way, the Truth, and the Life,' but he continues to grow old and does not do the works which Jesus Christ said a man should do when he is in the Way. Horatio W. Dresser writes on 'The Christ Ideal' and a dozen other themes of the same kind, but still walks his way in mortality and can not do any of the works which Jesus Christ said a man should do. Ursula N. Gestefeld writes of 'The Builder and the Plan,' a text-book of the Science of Being, but she goes right on living in mortality without giving proof to the world that she has met the builder or knows anything practical about the plan. . . . What is the matter with the whole outfit? The matter is matter. There is nothing the matter with any of us except matter. Until we can come out of matter into Spirit, we will do nothing but talk. If we get a market for our talk, we make a living at it, and that is all. It is a sad commentary that we all die trying our best to live. We grow old and gray and decrepit talking about immortality and eternal life."

As a jab at the New Thought establishment he proclaimed:

"A Sure Word of Prophecy. MARY BAKER (Mrs. Eddy) will remain here on earth as the Mother of Christian Science. Her body will gradually change into an electrical body without the loss of personal identity. HELEN WILMANS (Mrs. Post) will remain here on the earth as the Mother of Mental Science. Her body will gradually change into an electrical body without the loss of personal identity. Christian and Mental Science will unite in one grand movement for the inauguration of the Electrical Age. This prophecy I have received from ZEUS, the Giver of Life, through ALPHA, the Speaker of the Word. I AM. T.J. Shelton"

Shelton, on the other hand, believed that he had personally realized the truth of New Thought: "I am not only realizing my ideal, but know for a dead certainty that I will attain immortality without vacating these premises. Step by step and day by day I am putting off the old man and putting on the new. . . . If the New Thought will not produce New Life we will know it is a counterfeit. The rehashing of old thought may be called New, but the test comes in practical application. When the real NewThought comes, it will say in the words of the I AM: ‘Old things have passed away, behold! I have made all things new'"

The key for Shelton to making all things new was "regeneration," a code word in contemporary New Thought for the role of sex in the unfoldment and perfection of the personality. It was the reversal of "generation," which begat only another, imperfect human, and consisted in the re-uniting of the original bi-sexual monad, in Shelton's version by "sex vibrations." "The immortality of the flesh, or incorruptible body, is to come through sex vibrations." These were also the power behind healing: "HEALING VIBRATIONS ARE SEXUAL VIBRATIONS! . . . ALL LIFE IS SEXUAL; ALL HEALING IS THROUGH SEXUAL VIBRATIONS." These teachings led in April 1895 to the indictment of Shelton and the unknown Flora Ella James, who had come to him "for mutual help and instruction," for believing "in spiritual regeneration through sexual vibrations," for which they "were condemned as unclean and unfit to be enrolled among the healers and teachers." Shelton's later comment on the hullaballoo that ensued illustrates the reasons for his reputation as an eccentric. "This shows how much the flesh or the mortal has to do with the unfoldment of Truth. I am ready to follow the Spirit without regard to the rules and regulations of mortality. I am sure that thousands of women are beginning to see daylight through the columns of Christian and my personal treatments. I owe all that I am to women. The very body I inhabit was given to me from my mother, and it is now being regenerated and ‘born again' by Woman."

The contents of the journal were originally written by Shelton practically alone, consisting of his thoughts on I AM Science, comments on correspondence, and rejoinders to assaults in other New Thought journals, but especially after his attempt to transform the journal in 1902 to obtain second-class mailing privileges it began to have regular contributions by Kate Atkinson Boehme, Marie Edith Beynon, Eleanor Kirk, John Hamlin Dewey, George Edwin Burnell, R.C. Douglass, Allan Parkinson, Helen Modena, and others. By 1904-1905 Shelton had begun to revert to type. The fire and excitement largely left the journal and it became a series of extended sermons on various topics, coupled with Shelton's regular solicitations for Fellowship in the Circle of Christians ($1.00 a month), special treatments beyond the Fellowship ($10.00 to $100.00 a month), etc.

Issues for September and December 1926 in the INTA; LOC.

Issues:Christian V5 N1 Jan 1899
Christian V5 N2 Feb 1899
Christian V5 N3 Mat 1899
Christian V5 N4 Apr 1899
Christian V5 N5 May 1899
Christian V5 N6 Jun 1899
Christian V5 N7 Jul 1899
Christian V5 N8 Aug 1899
Christian V5 N9 Sep 1899
Christian V5 N10 Oct 1899
Christian V5 N11 Nov 1899
Christian V5 N12 Dec 1899
Christian V6 N1 Jan 1900
Christian V6 N2 Feb 1900
Christian V6 N3 Mar 1900
Christian V6 N4 Apr 1900
Christian V6 N5 May 1900
Christian V6 N6 Jun 1900
Christian V6 N7 Jul 1900
Christian V6 N8 Aug 1900
Christian V6 N9 Sep 1900
Christian V6 N10 Oct 1900
Christian V6 N11 Nov 1900
Christian V6 N12 Dec 1900
Christian V7 N1 Jan 1901
Christian V7 N2 Feb 1901
Christian V7 N3 Mar 1901
Christian V7 N4 Apr 1901
Christian V7 N5 May 1901
Christian V7 N6 Jun 1901
Christian V7 N7 Jul 1901
Christian V7 N8 Aug 1901
Christian V7 N9 Sep 1901
Christian V7 N10 Oct 1901
Christian V7 N11 Nov 1901
Christian V7 N12 Dec 1901
Christian V8 N1 Jan 5 1901
Christian V8 N2 Jan 12 1901
Christian V8 N3 Jan 19 1901
Christian V8 N4 Jan 26 1902
Christian V8 N10 Mar 9 1902
Christian V8 N11 Mar 16 1902
Christian V8 N12 Mar 23 1902
Christian V8 N13 Mar 30 1902
Christian V8 N14 Apr 6 1902
Christian V8 N15 Apr 13 1902
Christian V8 N16 Apr 20 1902
Christian V8 N17 Apr 27 1902
Christian V8 N18 May 4 1902
Christian V8 N19 May 11 1902
Christian V8 N20 May 18 1902
Christian V8 N21 May 25 1902
Christian V8 N22 Jun 7 1902
Christian V8 N23 Jun 14 1902
Christian V8 N24 Jul 1902
Christian V10 N1 Aug 1902
Christian V10 N2 Sep 1902
Christian V10 N3 Oct 1902
Christian V10 N4 Nov 1902
Christian V10 N5 Dec 1902
Christian V10 N6 Jan 1903
Christian V10 N7 Feb 1903
Christian V10 N9 Apr 1903
Christian V10 N10 May 1903
Christian V10 N11 Jun 1903
Christian V10 N12 Jul 1903
Christian V11 N1 Aug 1903
Christian V11 N2 Sep 1903
Christian V11 N3 Oct 1903
Christian V11 N4 Nov 1903
Christian V11 N5 Dec 1903
Christian V11 N6 Jan 1904
Christian V11 N7 Feb 1904
Christian V11 N8 Mar 1904
Christian V11 N9 Apr 1904
Christian V11 N11 Jun 1904
Christian V11 N12 Jul 1904
Christian V12 N1 Aug 1904
Christian V12 N2 Sep 1904
Christian V12 N3 Oct 1904
Christian V12 N4 Nov 1904
Christian V12 N5 Dec 1904
Christian V12 N6 Jan 1905
Christian V12 N7 Feb 1905
Christian V12 N8 Mar 1905
Christian V12 N9 Apr 1905
Christian V12 N10 May 1905
Christian V12 N11 Jun 1905
Christian V12 N12 Jul 1905
Christian V12 N13 Aug 1905
Christian V12 N14 Sep 1905
Christian V12 N15 Oct 1905
Christian V12 N16 Nov 1905
Christian V12 N17 Dec 1905
Christian V13 N1 Jan 1906
Christian V13 N2 Feb 1906
Christian V13 N3 Mar 1906
Christian V13 N4 Apr 1906
Christian V13 N6 Jun 1906
Christian V13 N7 Jul 1906
Christian V13 N8 Aug 1906
Christian V13 N9 Sep 1906
Christian V13 N10 Oct 1906
Christian V13 N11 Nov 1906
Christian V13 N12 Dec 1906
Christian V14 N1 Jan 1907
Christian V14 N2 Feb 1907
Christian V14 N3 Mar 1907
Christian V14 N4 Apr 1907
Christian V14 N5 May 1907
Christian V14 N6 Jun 1907
Christian V14 N7 Jul 1907
Christian V14 N8 Aug 1907
Christian V14 N9 Sep 1907
Christian V14 N10 Oct 1907
Christian V14 N11 Nov 1907
Christian V14 N12 Dec 1907
Christian V15 N1 Jan 1908
Christian V15 N2 Feb 1908
Christian V15 N3 Mar 1908
Christian V15 N4 Apr 1908
Christian V15 N5 May 1908
Christian V15 N6 Jun 1908
Christian V15 N7 Jul 1908
Christian V15 N8 Aug 1908
Christian V15 N9 Sep 1908
Christian V15 N10 Oct 1908
Christian V15 N11 Nov 1908
Christian V15 N12 Dec 1908
Christian V16 N1 Jan 1909
Christian V16 N2 Feb 1909
Christian V16 N3 Mar 1909
Christian V16 N4 Apr 1909
Christian V16 N5 May 1909
Christian V16 N6 Jun 1909
Christian V16 N7 Jul 1909
Christian V16 N8 Aug 1909
Christian V16 N9 Sep 1909
Christian V16 N10 Oct 1909
Christian V16 N11 Nov 1909
Christian V16 N12 Dec 1909
Christian V17 N1 Jan 1910
Christian V17 N2 Feb 1910
Christian V17 N3 Mar 1910
Christian V17 N4 Apr 1910
Christian V17 N7 Jul 1910
Christian V17 N8 Aug 1910
Christian V17 N9 Sep 1910
Christian V17 N10 Oct 1910
Christian V17 N11 Nov 1910
Christian V17 N12 Dec 1910
Christian V18 N1 Jan 1911
Christian V18 N2 Feb 1911
Christian V18 N4 Apr 1911
Christian V18 N5 May 1911
Christian V18 N6 Jun 1911
Christian V18 N7 Jul 1911
Christian V18 N8 Aug 1911
Christian V18 N9 Sep 1911
Christian V18 N10 Oct 1911
Christian V18 N11 Nov 1911
Christian V18 N12 Dec 1911
Christian V19 N1 Jan 1912
Christian V19 N2 Feb 1912
Christian V19 N3 Mar 1912
Christian V19 N4 Apr 1912
Christian V19 N5 May 1912
Christian V19 N6 Jun 1912 Partial
Christian V19 N7 Jul 1912
Christian V19 N8 Aug 1912
Christian V19 N9 Sep 1912
Christian V19 N10 Oct 1912
Christian V19 N11 Nov 1912 Partial
Christian V19 N12 Dec 1912

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