New Age Tycoon: The Life and Legacy of John E. Fetzer with Brian C. Wilson

Brian C. Wilson is a Professor of American Religious History in the Department of Comparative Religion at Western Michigan University. He has a BSc in Medical Microbiology from Stanford University, an MA in Hispanic Studies from Monterey Institute of International Studies, and an MA and a PhD in Religious Studies with the University of California. Brian is also the award-winning author of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Religion of Biologic Living. His most recent book is John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age following the spiritual sojourn of a 20th Century Michigan business tycoon.

Brian joins me today to discuss the path he has traveled, powered by a curiosity for the metaphysical questions in life and a desire to serve in a spiritual role. He shares his experience of joining the Peace Corps, where an initial posting to Honduras led him to spend several years traveling Central America and the Caribbean where he was introduced to a host of religious cultures. Brian discusses his links with the Fetzer Institute, located in his neighborhood, and how he eventually came to write John E. Fetzer’s autobiography, a story of an unconventional businessman with New Age beliefs. We also discuss reincarnation, spiritual camps for mediums and psychics, and the history of the Ouija board with the positive and negative associations to it.

Quotables from Brian C. Wilson

“World religions are so rich and there’s such interesting history and theology and philosophy people have developed, that if you take a deep dive it really does help you to better understand not only the world around you and the way people have perceived it, but also your own ideas of the world.”

“World religions are so rich and there’s such interesting history and theology and philosophy people have developed, that if you take a deep dive it really does help you to better understand not only the world around you and the way people have perceived it, but also your own ideas of the world.”

“World religions are so rich and there’s such interesting history and theology and philosophy people have developed, that if you take a deep dive it really does help you to better understand not only the world around you and the way people have perceived it, but also your own ideas of the world.”

“World religions are so rich and there’s such interesting history and theology and philosophy people have developed, that if you take a deep dive it really does help you to better understand not only the world around you and the way people have perceived it, but also your own ideas of the world.”

This week on The School For Good Living:

  • Why differing religions should be compared for understanding rather than rank
  • How Brian’s time in the Peace Corps opened up new ways of looking at his own religion
  • Why John E. Fetzer was not your typical American business tycoon
  • Why the Ouija board gets a bad rap
  • What Brian discovered about his own beliefs researching his latest book
  • How Fetzer gave up his business interests to create a legacy in the Fetzer Institute before his death
  • Why you should keep a journal when you travel
  • Brian’s tips on finding a story worth writing about and his own creative process

Resources Mentioned:

Connect with Brian C. Wilson:

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