Wednesday, February 11, 2015

       After completing the reading and listening to Ms. Gold's presentation on her Shaker obsession, I also became very intrigued about this religious community. Shakers, or their official name, "United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing", live in a way that draws the attention of many onlookers. I began to ask myself so many questions and become fascinated by how they live so happily in simplicity, humble as can be, independent and even strong producers making revenue.
       The very first group of Shakers were led in 1774, by Ann Lee, an illiterate Quaker in England who was fleeing religious persecution. She held many religious meetings where she preached about the "Three C's": Confession, community and celibacy. People were amazed, both men and women attached to Ann Lee's "Shaker" ways especially because of her charisma, her "healing hands" and her connection to God. This itself was very uncommon at the time, a woman who preached and led women as well as men. Ann Lee was able to have a leadership role and this is one of the reasons why the Shakers' religious communities were so intriguing.
      Shaker communities have an endless sense of love overall. They accepted anyone; runaways, orphans and even slaves. Even today, it is not very common to see a religious community that is welcoming to people of all kinds. Not only did these Shaker communities accept everyone, but everyone was free to come and go. Of course, it makes sense that they weren't too ecstatic about taking people back in but it gives a sense of comfort knowing people weren't just automatically trapped and forced into this lifestyle forever.
       I also loved the sense of equality. Ann Lee made an emphasis on the equality of the sexes. Yes, there were gender roles in certain jobs but it came down to men and women working in collaboration. Women also received much respect for their labor and this is something that even though is seen today, I feel it should happen much more often. They believed that God was both male and female and this is something different but interesting to think about. The Shakers made an emphasis on taking pride in their work as well and this is something I strongly agree with; taking pride in what you do but remaining a bit humble. The Shaker religious communities were something I had never heard about and now, I am actually more than interested in visiting the few that remain today.

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