Book Review: The Ideal Made Real

The Ideal Made Real, or Metaphysics For Beginners, by Christian D. Larson

I really detest books like this from the standpoint of metaphysics and theology, but if there is one thing that my reading on early 20th century occult thinking in the United States has taught me [1], it is how bereft of creativity later imitators are.  Do you think that concepts like “The Secret” or the supposed “Law Of Attraction” are new?  Think again.  This book, for all of its tedious repetitiveness, managed to talk about those concepts in those terms in 1909.  Mind you, it would take some reading through turgid prose to get to the point, but the point is there to be found without too much trouble at all.  What this book does is makes contemporary New Age writing of the same lines seem all the more unoriginal, and contemporary authors mere plagiarists by comparison.  Perhaps this book deserved to be forgotten and obscure, but it is worth knowing about the book and its contents as a way of demonstrating the truth that occult thinking never goes out of style completely but it merely changes its name and its surface appearance in order to continually appeal to superstitious people who want the power and success that positive thinking promises in the absence of moral vigor.

This book seeks to collapse the ought into the is, making the ideal real in two fallacious senses.  On the one hand, the author promotes the bogus idea that people are in control of their universe and that with positive thinking directed in a gnostic fashion, they will create the ideal world they want.  On the other hand, this belief leads to the negative conclusion that if our world is bad, that is because we are bad.  The author has no conception of generational patterns of evil, external sources of evil in the demonic world, or the way our own natures and world have been warped by sin.  In the author’s conception, the only reality is the reality we create through our own will and imagination.  The chapters of this book, which cover almost 300 pages of material, merely repeat the same thoughts over and over again, as if repetition alone substituted for evidence and reason.  Alas, it does not.  This message certainly has undeniable appeal in a country that has been blessed with great resources, but one can see the darker side of this philosophy in that it blames the poor, sick, and misfortune for the evils that they suffer.  This book represents the theology of Job’s friends, and when you find yourself in that place, you need to consider how to extricate yourself from that danger.

So, this book would be nearly worthless if one examined it on the value of its ideas and its interior logic.  The author’s tone is strident and tedious, and the ideas in here are as bogus in the early 20th century as they are today.  Yet if this book has one virtue, it is demonstrating the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of “new thought” in that it has not come up with any new ideas in a century, and barely even any new packaging.  If contemporary efforts offer appeals to the heathen thought of Eastern religion and Native American shamanism, this book has biblical quotes taken out of context and viewed in an extreme fashion, providing a picture of how the early Gnostic thinkers operated.  This may not be a great virtue for a book to possess, but that is the sort of virtue this book possesses, and unless you desire to see the unpleasant fruit of ungodly philosophy, there is little value to be found here unless one is gullible enough to take the author and his thinking seriously.  Caveat lector.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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