The very excellent local blog The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks was a little baffled earlier this week by the front of the “I AM” temple in Adams Morgan. In a post titled Necessary?, Bethany Keeley scratches her head at the strange doings at the temple, at least when it comes to styling words on its facade.
As somebody who once spent six months of his life researching New Age religion (and who still gets a little obsessed with it), I can answer Keeley’s in the affirmative: The “I AM” movement was a spinoff of Theosophy—named, as Keeley rightly surmises, from God’s announcement of Himself in Exodus 3:14. Like lots of Blavatsky-esque blithering, “I AM” teachings are stuffed with gobbledygook. But all the literature I’ve read on the subject, as well as the group’s official Web site, includes the quotation marks. There may be a glint of tinfoil in its teachings, but its grammar is tight.
(For anybody who cares to investigate this stuff further, America’s Alternative Religions, a collection edited by Timothy Miller, is a great place to start.)