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The Devil Is a Gentleman, by J.C. Hallman

Exploring America’s Religious Fringe

Reviewed by Jolene Dawe

[Snip] The Devil Is a Gentleman is a book exploring a number of religious fringe groups in the United States (and Canada) while simultaneously exploring William James’ life, as well as his theological and philosophical pursuits. The format is easy enough to understand: an introduction to William James, a chapter on this or that fringe group, a interlude of a period of William’s life, lather, rinse, repeat. Being neither familiar with William James, nor with the author, J.C. Hallman, I wasn’t entirely sure going into this book what to expect. Being someone who has some familiarity with some of what could fall under “fringe” groups, I’ll admit to being somewhat hesitant to even dive into the book. How much snide remarks and barbed comments would I have to slog through? I knew that at some point the author would be treating pagans to his exploration, and I was braced for the worse.

I needn’t have been. The very first chapter introduced me to the Unarians. I’ll admit it right now: UFO cults and alien stories are something I stay away from, because I have a strong, irrational fear of aliens. (No four year old should have to watch ET on the big screen. I’m just sayin’. Not. Okay.). It’s not even that I necessarily think abduction stories are scams or impossible – I commune with gods, okay? I’m so not throwing stones. I simply stay away from them because they scare me. (Yes. Aliens. Odin? Not so much. Hypothetical aliens in spaceships? Like you wouldn’t believe.)

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