Thursday, February 12, 2015

A look at the Shakers

By Akosua
Going into the talk, I had never really heard anything about the Shaker women; even in regards to the furniture, I had no idea that they essentially had a patent on a certain chair. So I suppose that was a sort of advantage for me, not knowing anything about the shakers, because it allowed me to have a clear unbiased view of the shaker religion and life.

Reading and hearing about the history of the Shakers immediately grabbed my interest and appealed to me because I am someone who is religious and apart of a community. What stuck out to me the most though and amazed me about the Shakers was their ability to  be so ahead of their time. Mother Ann Lee was truly a revolutionary for women and religion. She knew what she wanted: Confession, community and celibacy, and she successfully attained all of these things. Of course, her earnings did not come simply. The Shakers established themselves from Maine to Kentucky, but they found along this road, many would be against them. Of course with the creation of a new religious society called "United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing" there would be some backlash, but what makes Ann Lee so amazing and commendable was her ability to disregard the negativity. Its remarkable that even though she had so much against her, (her gender, her illiteracy) she heldfast to her ideals. 

The main issue many people find about religion is the lack of community and trust. Ann Lee wanted to see the end of this distrust amongst religious communities. Ann Lee, as part of her three C's, believed in Confession. Unlike the Catholic religion where one confesses to the priest in secrecy, everyone confesses together. Baring your soul to God is one thing, but baring your soul to an entire community requires a much higher sense of trust. It amazes me that people were able develop such trust between one another. Even today in my  own church community and others I struggle to find the trust that was established in the Shaker community.

Another thing that amazes me is the equality. Ann Lee led the Shakers which had men besides women and the amazing thing is that men actually followed her. To be a woman at the time and not being able to even own land set the tone that women were meant for housework, but Ann Lee went against that and her talents to lead shone through which drew so many to her. Ann Lee inspires me and I believe her story and legacy should continue. The ideas of a community and trust and realizing talents are what many people still strive to achieve and find, so that Ann Lee paved the way for this kind of community so long ago really astonishes me.

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