Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Namesakes

Douglas Fairbanks as Sinbad

Theda Bara vamping as Cleopatra

One More

We have a black lab pal named Theda Bara we rescued from a shelter in Michigan last year. We almost didn't find her(like lots of stories in life). I trapped a feral cat that was killing birds at our feeder and took it to the Alleghan County Humane Society. Since we were there I said, famous last words, 'Let's just look at the dogs.' We saw two dogs we liked and since it was a holiday weekend we decided to talk it over for a couple of days. We decided on Grover, a great looking, friendly black lab. Alas when I called on Monday, he was spoken for, BUT, the lady said they had a younger female lab and I could come see her if I liked. I asked her to hold the pooch and headed right over. Man, was it ever love at first sight! So we have a great friend.
Then the quandary. Our new jobs require that we be at work from two in the afternoon until about 9 AM the next morning. On weekends, we have to be there 24 hours a day. Now, we sleep, eat, read, watch tv, visit with the kids and all so we are happy about it, but what about the poor pooch? We had the back yard fenced so she has plenty of room, but what loneliness would the poor beastie suffer? Well, after agonizing over the decision since May, we went to the shelter and brought Douglas Fairbanks(aka Doug the Dawg)home. Doug is a border collie, black lab mix and he's friendly, affectionate, walks really well on a leash and is busily asserting his dominance in the doggie relationship, damned chauvinist pig, er, dog!
They seem to be doing well and I have faith that these two will enjoy each other's company through the long, cold, lonely, SD winter(and late summer, fall, etc).
Oh, and we have one more week before returning to work. So two one mores.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Akta Lakota?

"Just like us!" Hotchkiss leaned over and slammed the butt of his rifle against Cuthbert's head. "Not hardly."
"You are right," said Asiginak in Ojibwe. "You are a madness on this earth."

The Plague of Doves Louise Erdrich

Akta Lakota means 'honor the people' and the question for me is, does the 'Crazy Horse' monument do that?
Claire and I did pony up the twenty bucks for admission to the Crazy Horse monument site, although this thing is so huge you can see it almost as well on the highway leading into the town of Custer for free. We toured the Native American Heritage Center at the monument site and it was well done with many beautiful artifacts and Native American artists/craftspeople on site. We watched the film about the history of the project and ooed and aahhed at the night explosions from the 60th anniversary celebration. I was very impressed at the hard work and sacrifice of Korczak Ziolkowski, the sculptor. This project was initiated by Lakota elders; Henry Standing Bear and several other elders approached Ziolkowski in 1948 to undertake a mountain sculpture that would honor the Native Peoples to whom these Hills rightly belong, according to treaty and federal court decision. An interesting thing about the film is that its as much about Ziolkowski and his family as it is about the project. So is the rest of the place, featuring his work, his home etc. Not that they aren't interesting and all, but this almost seems like the Korczak Ziolkowski monument.
I know that lots of Native Americans feel great pride in this monument and that's a good thing. But if justice had been done from the beginning, they wouldn't need a disfigured mountain, spectacular though it may be. They would have the mountain and all the land surrounding this for hundreds of miles in its natural beauty.
Many Indians do not believe in this project. No surprise, most big projects have their supporters and their detractors. Here is an excerpt from an article which appeared in the newspaper, Indian Country Today

Crazy Horse Memorial: a bitter legacy for Lakota
by Tim Ogia
The traditional and spiritual people of the Lakota look upon the carving of the Crazy Horse Memorial as a desecration of their sacred lands. To them, it is like defiling Mecca, the Holy Land, or the Vatican. Such was not the case in 1948 when Henry Standing Bear believed all was lost. A new generation had yet to rise.

Crazy Horse, the magnificent warrior of the Lakota, was an Oglala like me. He never put his name on a treaty. He never sold out. He, it was said, never allowed his picture to be taken. He would never have allowed his face to be carved upon the side of a mountain in the beautiful hills he held sacred.

Charlotte Black Elk, the great-great-granddaughter of Black Elk (of the Black Elk Speaks fame) is bitterly against the carving. Oliver Red Cloud, the great-great-grandson of Chief Red Cloud, has spoken out strongly against the carving. He has said he truly believes it will not be completed because Wakan Tanka (the Great Spirit) will never allow it to happen.

Lakota anthropologist Beatrice Medicine of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the tribe of Sitting Bull, is also vehemently opposed to the statue. She believes the mountain is more of a tribute to the sculptor than to the Indian. She calls the carving "a sacrilege that mars the beauty of the sacred Black Hills."

Avis Little Eagle, editor of Indian Country Today, denounced the carving as a "monument of exploitation." She wrote, "Many promises were made to the Lakota when Korczak began carving in 1948, but few of them have been kept."

The national media and even some publications that profess to be published for the benefit of the American Indian have climbed on the bandwagon to praise Ziolkowski's widow for her determined effort to continue the pursuit of her husband's dream. But nearly all of the traditional Lakota believe the promises made to them for a great Indian university and medical center will never be fulfilled. To Ziolkowski they were a dream, and to many Lakota they will always be just that, a dream.

We Lakota have heard white men make promises for 200 years, and we have also seen those promises turn into huge money-making projects. The white man made the money, and the Lakota were left with the promises. Such is the legacy of the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Monument;or Mutilating Mountains

"Everything we see belongs to us."

'Dear John Wayne'

Louise Erdrich

Everybody in the USA has seen a picture of the presidents carved into Six Grandfathers ,as it was known to the Lakota, or Mt Rushmore, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. There is no denying that these are impressive sculptures on a truly grand scale. And seeing these statues is bound to evoke powerful feelings, akin to a religious experience for many "true Americans". What was the motivation for this monumental sculpture? Patriotism? A desire to rub the Indian's face in our power?


"--it would put South Dakota on the map."
" Many South Dakotans believed that a colossal sculpture would attract thousands of visitors with heavy wallets."
"Historian Doane Robinson conceived the idea for Mount Rushmore in 1923 to promote tourism in South Dakota." Wikipedia
That's right, friends, this "Monument to Liberty" was conceived as a tourist attraction. And like most 'patriot' tourist traps in this country hungry for connection to a mythical heroic past, hungry for 'feel good' emotions, it has been incredibly successful. People weep here. Right wingers have orgasms.
You may have noticed that the picture we took of the monument is only GW in profile. There was no way I would pay 20 or 30 bucks to hear all about what it took to deface Mt Eyesore.
Seriously, when you see the sculptures as you are driving, they are quite the work.
My problem is the same one the conservationists had in 1925 when the project was debated in congress, pretty much the same as the Lakota; why deface Maka Inca like this?
Remember, this was Lakota land, declared in a treaty(Laramie Treaty 1868) and found to have been wrongfully taken by a federal court. So we carve white guys in it? The Lakota had a particular horror of digging into Maka Inca, Mother Earth, so for a tourist attraction we bend the Lakota, Cheyenne and all other indigenous peoples who hold these hills sacred over a barrel and stick it up their wazoo?
It could have been worse. They could have carved Custer, Chivington, and Sheridan up there. But how about the faces they did put on the "Monument to Liberty" GW, TJ and AL are shoe-ins,right? Consider, GW and TJ were slave owners and we KNOW Jefferson raped at least one of his slaves. But Abe was the Great Emancipator, no?
Here is what Abe had to say about that:
"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume V, "Letter to Horace Greeley" (August 22, 1862), p. 388

Abe also said:
"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume III, "Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois" (September 18, 1858), pp. 145-146.
Probably in tune with his times, but his purpose was to maintain the empire, not to preserve liberty.
TR, as the first conservationist, would likely be apalled at seeing the mountain defaced.
I recommend you read "Skins" by Adrian C. Louis
tomorrow- Crazy Horse monument

Friday, July 18, 2008

Black Hills II(Typical Travelogue)

We had a little chat with some wild donkeys while we were visiting Custer State Park. We were obedient little visitors and didn't feed them, but these two decided to check us out anyway.
This is a gorgeous park with breathtaking mountain views,

spectaular rock formations called 'needles'(yes, that's a climber)

and wonderfully perfumed air from the spruce forests. The Lakota called these Paha Sapa, Black Hills, because they are so thickly covered in the dark blanket of the Black Hills Spruce that from a distance the slopes appear black. And besides,'Dark Green Hills' just doesn't have the same poetic ring to it. A seven year drought ended this spring with great gobs of rain, and the Hills are as green as spring with the soft, lush, sparkly look one sees in May. There are a couple of lakes in the park

as well and miles of old logging roads where you can enjoy beautiful views and forget that you are in a fairly crowded park.

We got to see a big horn sheep way up in the rocks, a small herd of bison, a couple of pronghorn antelope, and many deer. Although deer are common where we come from, we saw at least forty in one day, several with good size racks. And they seemed very calm, as if they know they are in a protected area.
We didn't camp, but having seen some of the camp sites we are going to get a tent and some equipment. We are also going to get some suggestions from people we work with on good spots to camp on the plains closer to home.
As I mentioned yesterday, the Paha Sapa are sacred to the Lakota. It is glib and cliched to go on about how one feels "closer to god" in nature settings, blah blah. But we went up to Cathedral Spires at dusk, the moon had just risen and I really felt the power of this beautiful place in a way that is hard to write about.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Paha Sapa:Not your typical travelogue

Paha Sapa, the Black Hills are so very beautiful! One can understand why the Lakota are still struggling to get at least part of them back.
In case you didn't know, the US government promised not to ever, ever steal the Black Hills in the Laramie treaty of 1868. OOPS, we lied. When Custer's expedition of 1874 brought back news that gold was to be found at the "grassroots level" well, no stopping those rascally miners, ya know. So we HAD to steal Paha Sapa in order to protect those miners, outfitters, gamblers, prostitutes, etc from the savages. In 1877 a small percentage of "Sioux" were coerced into signing paper ceding the Black Hills to the US. A federal judge later commented that "A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealing will never, in all probability, be found in our history." In 1980 the Supreme Court found for the Lakota and awarded $106 million (the equivalent of 17.5 million in 1877 dollars)for "A taking of tribal property". Of course the court did not take into account the billions of dollars in gold, tin and other natural resources taken from the Hills so that what they were offering was a pittance compared to what white people have realized from Paha Sapa. Remarkably, some of the poorest people in the US refused the dough! They said they would rather have the federally held land in the Paha Sapa, please. According to many, the issue is spiritual. Paha Sapa was never for sale, it is a sacred place and so they would prefer that the land that was theirs to begin with be returned as much as possible. The government said not on yer freakin' lives! So it goes. The settlement is currently worth about half a billion dollars and there are lawyers calling meetings with very poor Lakota to encourage them to claim the settlement money. Of corse they aren't working pro bono in this, and so it goes. White folks never get tired of screwing Native Peoples. More later and I promise, less bitter.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Trip!

We are off to see Paha Sapa(Black Hills). Have to go through Custer(cursed be his name)National Park and hope to send evil vibes to the Mt Rushmore desecration. Looking forward to seeing the fabled sacred hills and offering prayer there. Pictures upon return. YAY road trip!

Friday, July 11, 2008

To Promise With

That's what the Latin etymological meaning of compromise is, "to promise with". Of course we know that it means agreeing to give up or 'flex' on something you value to get something else you value in the bargain. Politicians trading off on aspects of a piece of legislation is probably one of the more common examples. Arduous wrote an excellent post about compromising some of her green values for the sake of good relationships.
I have been in a discussion with Shawn on his Tribe site about voting. Here's the jist of it. He has decided in a very Anabaptist-traditional way, to not vote in the presidential(and I assume any other) election, because none of the candidates will govern according to "Kingdom principles". When pressed as to who decided what those principles are and how they would be applied, he stated that they are clearly presented in "Matthew 5ff" in a manner that does not allow for compromise. His reference to the Sermon On The Mount includes the injunction to "pluck out your eye if it offends thee", that is if you look lustfully at another person. Is that mere Hebraic hyperbole, or was Jesus giving a serious command? Who decides? Shawn hasn't addressed that yet, I don't think he will. My question was and is, if you can't find perfection is it appropriate to withdraw from responsibilities?
For example, if Arduous went to her mother's house and her mom purchased all non-local food to prepare dinner, is it appropriate for Arduous to refuse to eat, thereby abnegating her responsibility to honor her mother? If I can't find organically grown veggies at market, do I quit eating veggies, tossing aside my personal responsibilty to strive for healthy eating habits?
I remember reading about, and even speaking to, people who didn't like Bush, but they also didn't like Kerry-so they didn't vote at all. See where THAT got us!
Of course these are not examples of choices that compromise perceived religious principle, but when religious principle and civic responsibility seem to be at odds, what does one do? Note I am not simply saying obedience to law; the Anabaptists were right to violate the prohibitions against adult baptism and preaching beliefs that differed from the state church. These were strictly religious matters and subject to 'higher authority' as the saying goes.
But do Jehovah's Witnesses have the right to withhold potentially lifesaving blood transfusions from their children because of religious beliefs? Do we have a responsibility as citizens to vote, even if it seems to clash with some religious vision of the way things oughta be?
How much compromise is acceptable? Where would you draw the line in the dirt?
If you are interested in a stark but beautiful portrayal of this question lived out, read Silence by Shusako Endo.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What to Do With These

Parallel Dreams
Originally uploaded by Meloses (Ladida)

Normally, I don't remember my dreams. When I do remember anything they don't make a lot of sense, like most people's dreams. The last three nights I have had these dreams:
Sunday night I dreamt I was African American. I have NEVER dreamt such a thing before and it was neither good nor bad-that's all I remember.

Monday night I dreamt that I was watching a couple of guys load a truck with beadworked leather garments and dozens of feathered "war" bonnets aas well as other beautiful items that would have been and still are precious to Native Nations of the plains. They were handling these things very roughly. I asked a man who was Lakota who was also watching if it bothered him to see items that were always precious if not sacred to the people handled with so little respect. The dream ended.

Last night I dreamed that I was talking to the pastor of a very large African-American church who had invited me to bring my tiny congregation(a church 'mission')
to his church and then preach a sermon for his congregation. In the dream I was both a new church pastor and a fraud, pretending to have a small church start. The rest of the dream was about planning the sermon. I was struck by an image of a church in a cave or at the foot of a live volcanoe, I was going to build that image into how I felt about living with God, the explosive, powerful, and unknown God.
This was an amazingly detailed,and stimulating dream.

Now, if I haven't totally bored you to tears, let me say that these may well be images from my thoughts recently. I have been thinking a lot about racism(note the July 4th post). I always think a lot about Native Americans, but even more so recently since we are visiting Paha Sapa(Black Hills) next week-more on that later.
I have been reading about religious or spiritual development the last few weeks. Also, I was a new church pastor a long time ago, with a congregation of twenty when I started and 60 some when I left 2 years later.

In the Biblical and American Indian cultures dreams were given serious attention. I feel as if I should be paying attention now, and I guess writing this is a way to do that. Any thoughts at all on this?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Little Hutterite History

My 4th of July post would infuriate many US citizens. At least white US citizens. So I thought a post about some white folks might be in order. Since I have been writing about Hutterites for a few days, I wanted to share this from The Plough
Excerpted from "Hell, Healing, and Resistance"

Daniel Hallock

Of all the accounts of resistance during the First World War, there are few more harrowing than the story of the four Hutterites who were imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth in 1918.

Howard Moore (who met the four men while imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth) writes:

What could be more natural than that their leaders should look to America, the land of the free, a land that had been founded on the principle of individual liberty of conscience, a land settled by men who had fled from the four corners of the earth to escape religious persecution and, having settled, still welcomed all who wished to come to this continent to practice, free from persecution, their religious faith?

By 1874, most of the Hutterites had moved to South Dakota and begun new communities, or “colonies.” For forty-five years they lived in relative peace. But that peace was shattered by Wilson’s Conscription Act, and by the summer of 1918, four Hutterites living in South Dakota had been drafted into the Army against their will. Joseph, Michael, and David Hofer were blood-brothers. Together with a brother-in-law, Jacob Wipf, they were ordered to report to Camp Lewis, Washington, on May 25. Because they objected to military service on grounds of conscience, however, they refused to cooperate with even the basic induction procedures, and were thus considered to be military prisoners subject to military discipline. Persecution began immediately. Already on the train ride to the camp, another group of young men on their way to induction had grabbed the four Hutterites and tried to cut off their hair and their beards.

Upon arrival, they refused to promise obedience to military commands, to stand in formation, or to put on the uniforms given to them. For this, they were thrown into a “guardhouse,” where they were kept for two months before being court-martialed and sentenced to thirty-seven years in military prison. Following their court-martial they were transferred, with hands and feet shackled, to Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay. There they were forcibly stripped and commanded to dress in military uniforms. When they refused, they were taken to a dungeon where water trickled down the slimy walls and out over the bare rock floor. The darkness, cold, and stench were overpowering. Their uniforms were thrown down next to them, and they were told: “If you don’t give in, you’ll stay here till you die, like the four we dragged out of here yesterday!”

Shivering in their underwear, the prisoners were forced to sleep on the cold, damp floor without blankets. During the first four-and-a-half days, they were given nothing to eat and received only a half glass of water every twenty-four hours. Then, for the next two days, their hands were chained to iron rods above their heads so that their feet barely touched the floor. They were beaten with sticks, and Michael passed out. All the same, they were separated from one another so as to prevent communication; David later heard Jacob crying out: “Oh, have mercy, almighty God!”

When the men were brought up from the dungeon into a yard containing other prisoners, they had severe eczema and scurvy and had been badly bitten by insects; their arms were so swollen that they were unable to put on their coats. Altogether, they had not eaten for six days. They were finally fed but then were returned to their cells and locked in for twenty-four hours a day, apart from a single hour on Sundays when they were allowed to stand in the courtyard under heavy guard. They endured this treatment for four months until they were chained once again for the four-day journey east to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. They arrived in Kansas at eleven o’clock at night and were driven through the streets like pigs, prodded by shouting guards with open bayonets; they fumbled to retain the Bible, bag, and pair of shoes each had been given to hold in his manacled hands.

After being forced to run uphill to the prison gates, they were made to undress in the raw winter air and kept waiting, soaked in sweat, for their prison garb to be brought out. For two hours they shivered naked in the wind; by the time their clothes arrived, around 1:30 a.m., they were chilled to the bone. At 5:00 a.m. they were brought outside again and forced to stand in the cold wind. Joseph and Michael collapsed in pain and were taken to the infirmary. Jacob and David stood fast but refused to join a work detail and so were put in solitary confinement. Their hands were stretched through iron bars and chained together, and they were forced to stand in this position for nine hours each day, with only bread and water for nourishment. After two weeks, they began to receive occasional meals.

Jacob Wipf managed to send a telegram to their wives, and they traveled immediately to Leavenworth. They started out from their homes at night, leaving their small children behind them. But a railroad agent mistakenly gave them tickets to the wrong station, causing a delay of an entire day, so that when the women finally arrived at Leavenworth around 11:00 p.m., they found their husbands close to death and barely able to speak. By the following morning, Joseph Hofer was dead.

His wife Maria was told his body had already been placed in the coffin and could no longer be viewed, but she was persistent and pushed past the guards to the commanding officer, pleading for permission to see her husband once more. Her request was granted, but she was not prepared for what she found: through her tears, she suddenly realized that the lifeless body of her beloved husband had been dressed in military uniform. Joseph had been faithful to the last, and now he was mocked in death.

Michael Hofer died only days later; at the insistence of his father he was allowed to lie in his own clothes. Immediately following Michael’s death, David Hofer was brought back to his cell and chained to the bars, unable to wipe away the tears that streamed down his face for the whole day. The next morning, with the help of a willing guard, David relayed a message to the commanding officer, requesting that he might be placed in a cell closer to Jacob Wipf. The guard returned an hour later and told David to pack up his things for immediate release.

David was at first incredulous, but left a brief message for Jacob and prepared to go. It is not clear what prompted this unexpected and sudden release, but it is probable that rumors of his brothers’ deaths were beginning to leak out, and the prison was worried that they would become martyrs in the public eye. Soon after, on December 6, 1918, the Secretary of War issued an order prohibiting handcuffing, chaining, and the otherwise brutal punishment of military prisoners – a token political gesture to counteract the case’s growing negative publicity. In reality, Jacob’s battle continued.

When two Hutterites visited him at Leavenworth five days later, they found him in solitary confinement, his hands still chained to the iron bars for nine hours a day. He was still receiving a diet of bread and water and sleeping on a concrete floor, although he had been given several blankets. In a message sent home to his family, he wrote:

Sometimes I envy the three who have already been delivered from their pain. Then I think: why is the hand of the Lord so heavy upon me? I have always tried to be faithful and hardworking and hardly ever made any trouble for the brotherhood. Why must only I continue to suffer? But then there is joy, too, so that I could weep for joy when I think that the Lord considers me worthy to suffer a little for his sake. And I have to confess that, compared with our previous experiences, the life here is like in a palace.

Considering that the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, it is hard to believe that the chaining of military prisoners was only stopped on December 12. The prisoners were given planks on which to sleep, and conditions gradually improved as the War Department continued to receive petitions on the men’s behalf. Jacob Wipf remained behind bars for four more months and was finally released on April 13, 1919, after being hospitalized for a brief illness.

But the deaths of the two Hofer brothers could not be so easily forgotten, and by the end of the year, the great majority of Hutterite colonies had emigrated to Canada to escape further persecution – including vandalism by their neighbors because of their refusal to buy war bonds. So ended one of the most shameful episodes in American military history.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Daydreaming

When I was a kid we were convinced that the USA was the greatest country in the world, not only that- in the HISTORY of the world! Then I started reading history. Not the schoolbook propaganda we were force fed as good little assembly line cogs and future cannon fodder, but stuff that included a wealth of facts and alternative viewpoints conveniently left out of our little textbooks. I read a couple of books about American Indians when I was 13 or 14 that included the perspective of the conquered ones. Whoa! Our European forebears hadn't just "tamed the wilderness", they actually slaughtered the original inhabitants and sytematically destroyed every Native culture they had in their power. Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the founders didn't really mean "..all men are created equal" but that all white males who owned property were equal-some more equal than others,depending on how much you owned. I learned that they didn't really care about taxation without representation; George Washington declared martial law and personally led an army to suppress a tax rebellion by Pennsylvalia farmers. Well, the list goes on. For a little perspective, read Vine Deloria Jr. or Howard Zinn or Bell Hooks. And then dream about what we actually might have become if our country had rejected genocide and slavery at the outset rather than embracing such evils for profit. Racism and violence are woven into the fabric of the US society and we will die of it if we don't rip out those threads and reweave.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hutterites continued

I like this photo for a few reasons; it makes me happy to look at it, it shows a group of Hutterites having a lot of fun, and it works as a powerful symbol for me. Thanks to Kelly Hofer at Flickr for sharing.
When Hutterites are out and about, they may be shy, as they speak a German dialect at home, so English is a second language for them. They may be shy because they live in a very different society from the rest of us and may not be comfortable relating casually with strangers. It is easy to get the impression that they are a dour people. I like the picture because it shows that they can be fun loving folks, and helps to dispel misconceptions or stereotypes. The picture works for me as a symbol of the Hutterites pulling against the culture, and joyful in the struggle. Remember, these are people who do not earn private incomes, aside from household items and a few personal possesions, don't own anything privately. They dress differently, eat their meals together and have to put in a purchase requisition, so to speak, when they want to buy anything. They work hard, sing a lot and don't have modern electronic entertainment. And yet, from what little I know, they are pretty happy! There are about 500 hutterite communities in North America, about 70 in South Dakota. Not a huge number compared to say, Southern Baptists, and I don't want to idealise or romaticize a people I really know next to nothing about, but it seems that they have something going for them. They have found a way to incorporate what is useful from the modern world and yet live in such a way as to preserve their values of peace, sharing and simplicity. And they really know what community means. Impressive accomplishment in my opinion.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Most people in the US have heard of the Amish(oh yeah, beards, bonnets, horse and buggies!)but few have heard of the Hutterites, the folks I mentioned in yesterday's post. They spring from similar theological roots and have a few important things in common and several big differences.
The first time I ever saw a Hutterite man, he was drivimg a tractor down main street in Flandreau, SD when I first lived in this state. That's when I learned one of the big differences; Hutterites are willing to use technology for work. Oh, and the guy was wearing a plaid shirt, so different ideas about decoration as well.
These folks were founded by Jacob Hutter (b 1530 d 1536)who was tortured and burned alive for such radical ideas as thinking that baptism should be an adult decision, the Bible should be available to common folk, in their language, and the Pope in Rome isn't the arbiter of faith chosen by God. These people were part of the "radical reformation" and became known as 'Anabaptists' or 're-baptizers'. They also believed that Christians should definitely NOT serve in the military, they shouldn't take oaths and they should own all things in common. HOLY CRAPOLA they are COMMIES! Well, no. They are communitarians, if you must have a label. Communists and socialists hold to a centralized government. Communitarians tend to believe in small, localized groups who own everything in common. There were and are lots of 'anabaptists' around. Amish, Mennonites, and Brethren; all stem from Anabaptist roots and all hold to belief in pacifism(some more than others), believer's baptism(some younger than others),and simple living(some simpler than others). Only the Hutterites hold to a communitarian lifesyle. In my opinion, this is what makes the the Hutterites unique. (To be continued)