Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 81

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE alchemy and Hermeticism, drawn from the ancient world fused with Christianity in the Italian Renaissance.”13 But even assuming that Brooke has not made a strong case, a connection of Smith to the esoteric tradition does not depend solely upon his research. Catherine Albanese is another scholar who finds this line of research and interpretation of Smith most intriguing. She describes Smith as a “culture broker for American metaphysical religion.”14 After discussing elements of American metaphysical religion from the mid-nineteenth to the twentieth century, she continues and defines it as follows: The components of American metaphysical religion, however, may be tracked from a time far earlier—beginning in the European Renaissance with the high culture rediscovery of Hermes Trismegistus and the growth, on the Continent and in England, of esotericism. It can also be tracked in European traditions of folk and country magic and in American colonial versions of the same, but with Native American and African American materials added to the synthesis.15 As her discussion continues, Albanese considers various “pieces” of metaphysical religion that were brought together into a unique form shaped by Smith. One of these elements was Freemasonry, and from this the Masonic interest in Enoch and hidden gold plates. Masonic elements helped shape Mormon temple rituals, and the gold plates parallel Smith’s claims related to the origins of the Book of Mormon. But Albanese says we must engage in a deeper historical exploration beyond Freemasonry in order to understand Smith’s connections to American metaphysical religion. She notes Brooke’s argument connecting Smith “with a broad Hermeticism”16 discussed above, but for her one additional influence 13. Brooke, The Refiner’s Fire, xiii.   14. Catherine L. Albanese, “The Metaphysical Joseph Smith,” in Joseph Smith Jr.: Reappraisals after Two Centuries, ed. Reid L. Neilson and Terryl L. Givens (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 66. Cf. Catherine L. Albanese, A Rep ublic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007). 15. Albanese, “The Metaphysical Joseph Smith,” 66. 16. Ibid., 68. 80