Religion In America – Bishop Hill

This week’s Religion in America post will be about Bishop Hill in central Illinois.  Like last week’s post it is about a group who escaped a State sanctioned Lutheran system of belief in the mid 1800s. This time it is from Sweden but pretty much mirrors that of Zoar Village story.

This group settled into a communal colony where everything was held in common. But unlike most religious colonies escaping to America. Bishop Hill was more intense/fundamental than the one that they escaped from and were often in bitter opposition to many other versions of Lutheranism in America.

Here is a little about what Wikipedia says of Bishop Hill’s founder:

The village was founded in 1846 by Swedish immigrants affiliated with the Pietist movement, led by Erik Jansson. Prior to founding the Bishop Hill Colony, Jansson preached to his followers in Sweden about what he considered to be the abominations of the Lutheran Church and emphasized the doctrine that the faithful were without sin.

This story is common to many religious groups established in America. It was primarily founded around a strong and charismatic leader who chose a few particular verses in one version or another bible to concentrate on.  But this same thing was also typical of other world religions. Lutheranism, which was founded by Martin Luther who started the Protestant Reformation about 500 years ago when he became fixated on “works” not being important to God and uttering words of faith being the primary purpose of religion.  Some say this was due to an overwhelming inferiority complex by Luther. When he found the words from St. Paul (not Jesus) “you are saved by faith, not works” it became by far the most important aspect of his version of religion.

Getting back to the story at hand in 1854 when Jansson was assassinated by a former member and six years later the communal contract ended due to mismanagement.  There are some common historic buildings left at the site but most of the dwellings in the village are now privately owned.

The Good Old Days??

HavingMySay Banner   Everything has two sides, a good side and a dark side, a happy side and a sad side, but nothing is totally black and white.  How’s that for an opening sentence. 🙂

canstockphoto30875540.jpgThe main crux for this post is about all those who want the “good old days” back  as to mean when we didn’t have so much technology in our lives. They constantly complain about how so many people seem to be glued to their cell phones and such. But if they thought it through would they really like to go back fifty year or more?

Would they give up all the medical advances that technology has provided? I personally recently had a traumatic brain event that would more than likely killed me if it were 50 years ago. Today, with all the advanced imaging techniques they could precisely determine the locations and severity of my brain bleed and fix it with a two hour surgery.  So, personally I can answer that I am very grateful for all the technology advances of the last fifty year. Especially in the medical field.

I can remember in college when I had to write some papers on a subject I had to spend hours going through the card files at the university library and then spend even more hours finding and studying the sources that were on those cards.  Writing a routine paper was usually a twenty hour event.  Today most questions can be answered with a Google search which takes seconds to do. We can all learn about almost any subject at least enough to be dangerous in a matter of minutes. 🙂 How many of us would give all that up and return to all those dusty 3 x 5 index cards?

I can remember as a kid living close to the “Army Finance Center” in Indianapolis. It was a HUGE building containing about 4,000 desks and probably 50,000 filing cabinets. The job of all these people was to issue the monthly paychecks to military personnel. Today that job is probably handled in closet sized space and a couple racks of computers.

For at least us guys out there I know we wouldn’t want to go back to having our wives nag us to ask for directions when we are traveling.  Even when we did stop most often those directions were either wrong or too complicated to remember.  Then there was the time when we were visiting a southern State and they gave us completely bogus directions because they saw our plates were from a northern State.  I thank God for GPS and would never want to go back to what is was fifty years ago.

Ok, just one last example and I will let this all rest.  Fifty years ago an average car lasted for about 40,000 miles before it was a complete junk.  It probably got no more than a dozen or so miles per gallon and broke down on a monthly basis.  Fast forward to today and my little 2012 Chevy Sonic gets 35 mpg and has had nothing but a few very minor problems. It should easily last for 200,000 miles or more. And it has twelve airbags to protect me in case of an accident.

If you really want to give up all these and thousands of other things then by all means do it.  But, don’t ask the rest of us to join you in your retrograde desires.

RV Museum..

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My uRV
My uRV.. I’m kind of proud of how it turned out.

On my most recent uRV trip I visited the RV Museum in Elkhart Indiana.  Being that I have spent the last three years converting my twenty-five year old pickup truck with a six foot cap into a rat-rod micro-RV I wanted to learn a little more about the beginnings of that idea.

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Mine is kind of similar…

John Steinbeck, who as one of my favorite authors when I was growing, up wrote a book entitled “Travels with Charley” about when he custom built a pickup truck into an RV he named Rocinante (Don Quixote’s horse) and traveled around the country with it. I have read that book at least a dozen times now and it was the inspiration for me making my own version of vehicle and doing the same thing, sort of…

Anyway, the RV Museum was an interesting visit. There were many historic vehicles on display. Most seemed to be from California. I don’t really know why northwest Indiana became the RV-manufacturing capital, that is a story I will have to study up on that.

Here are some pictures from that visit.

As usual click on any pic to see a larger slideshow view 

Religion In America – Zoar Village Ohio

ISOA Banner    I will start off this series of religion in America with the latest place I visited and that is Zoar Village in central Ohio.  I visited here last summer on one of my frequent micro-RV trips.  As is common in many historical religious settlements it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

2017-05-21_09-41-38.pngMost of the info for this post was obtained from the book shown to the right which contains hundreds of pictures of the village throughout its history.  The book was purchased at the village but is also available from Amazon.

Zoar village was settled by Lutheran separatists escaping persecution in Germany in the early 1800s. In Germany at that time the state and church were one and the same. It ran the schools and most civic ceremonies. A group of “Zoarites” or “Separatists” as they were called refused to attend the mandated church, or to send their kids to church run schools and because of their non-violence beliefs refused to serve in the army. As a result many were flogged, imprisoned, had their children and land stripped from them and turned over to the state.

With the help of English Quakers they emigrated to America.  The American Quakers also helped them initially settle near Philadelphia.  But Joseph Bimeler, who became their leader during their three month journey to America had no patience for the well-meaning Quakers and found land in “far-off” Ohio for his group to settle and thus the village of Zoar Ohio was formed.

Separatists had an abiding faith in the Bible and thought that each person should have a “direct” relationship with God.  They also believed in the imminent return of Christ so each individual had to purge himself or herself of evil and become a living example of virtue.  In rebellion to the church they left their worship services were stripped of all ceremony.  Because of the imminent return they also believed in celibacy which demanded that households be divided by sex. That practice ended after about ten years.

By about 1850 the population of Zoar had reached about 500 and land values of the town exceeded $1 million.  However a year later Bimeler died and no one was able to successfully take his place,  and as a result that started years of decline of the town. In March of 1898 to society of Zoar formally decided to disband and everything was basically sold at auction soon thereafter. The remaining 200 or so members were given $200 and a piece of real estate.

As we will learn in future posts on this subject the final fate of the village was similar to many other religious settlements. Today the village of Zoar is struggling to find the resources to maintain the town.  It has lost much of its attraction as a tourist site which kept it going for some time.

Click on any pic below to see a larger slideshow view..

 

Celebrating Bad Grammar??

HavingMySay Banner    canstockphoto21440849.jpg I ran across a blog site today that celebrates bad grammar.  The author claimed that using proper grammar was just too conformist. He wants to be a radical so he uses bad grammar. I kinda think that he has a deeper underlying reason?

Celebrating our mistakes in life leads to nothing more than going deeper and deeper down the well. Eventually we run out of light to even find our way back.

It’s kind of like that cable show that celebrates obesity. I think it is called something like “My Big Beautiful Life”. The star dances around, at least until she runs out of breath, as if to celebrate that she is 100 lbs over weight.  She claims she never wants to be “normal”.

Next thing you know someone will show up celebrating cancer or pedephilia.

I have always said the the true source of these kind of things is simply laziness.  Too many of us just don’t want to do the work to make ourselves better than we are. It seems that is a sad fact of life in today’s world.

Simple Yet Evocative

Snippet Banner  I came across a blog site (The Drabble)  the other day that spoke to my heart.  Actually the site came across me by “liking” one of my very short posts. The words simple, yet evocative pieces that capture what it means to be human described the purpose of the site.  Simple yet evocative says it all for me.  It is hard to do both but when it is done successfully it is genius and many of the posts I reviewed on that blog did just that.

I have been on a “Simplicity” binge for about 5 years now. For me at least, life is just 2017-05-17_10-45-40.pnggetting too complicated even in my retirement years.  Everyone seems to be on a razor’s edge now and can’t see much joy in life. Since this is the only go-around we have if you waste your life with worry and fear it is indeed wasted and gone forever. It is definitely time for simplicity in my, and most others’ lives.

Getting back to the theme of this post. Simple yet evocative, is something that is very difficult to do.  One of my favorite sayings is from a folk singer legend Pete Seeger:

Any damn fool can get complicated. It takes a genius to obtain simplicity.

It is easy to make things complicated. Just look at all those yahoos inside the Washington DC beltway for evidence of that. We need folks who can take complicated and give us simple answers.   That is what most of those who voted for the current president were hoping for but the rest of us knew he was just too flawed to actually live up to any of his hyper rhetoric.

We also need simplicity from ourselves.  Your life is not really as complicated as you think it is. Millions and millions of people have faced the same struggles as you are and still found joy and happiness and that is what I personally intend to do for my remaining years.

I naively think I will take a serious crack at  Simple yet evocative here on RJsCorner. I think that melds very well with my desire to write some prose.  Simple yet evocative is difficult to achieve but I think I am up to it.  How about you??