I am certainly not geographically journeying enough of late to capture the many images I originally conceived as the primary substance of this site. I’ve been too distracted with collecting ephemera (always “to be scanned”…) and reading (that terminal illness). As such, I feel a tendency to direct the site’s evolution into a dual recorder, that is, both of places I see and words I consume. Both have a common foundation in the religious history of the upstate and central NY during the 19th century.
The most common themes I have been exploring are as follows: revivalism, millerism, millenarianism, primitive Christian communities, religious utopian experiments, health reform, self-proclaimed prophets, America as Zion, Aminianism, & &. Of course many of these themes overlap, and necessarily.
There have been few words I’ve read in the past years that I’ve imbibed without the accompaniment of a writing tool for the purposes of underlining segments of self-proclaimed “worth.” In fact, any attempts I’ve made at the act of reading without a pen or pencil have left me in a unsettled state such that I can hardly continue reading and am forced to forfeit the cause altogether. Whether habits are born of the self or society I still debate regularly, but their ability to become entrenched is undeniable and, when they prove to not be an overwhelming blockade to my mind and well-being, I usually allow to stay with me. But back to the habit at hand (pun noted)–my pen. Part of its usefulness is to help accentuate the details of my reading through the trusty underlining method, details I hope will indelibly become the matter of my brain so as to call upon the words in future writings and thought experiments.
How much more useful could my time reading prove were I to write myself small reports of my recollections? And keep them where in such a place where they can’t be lent out to someone or mistakenly forgotten on a bus. Much more useful. All this dithering then is to explain and introduce just this point–I might be including brief summations of readings. The thrill is real.
I want to go back in time and do this with all the books I’ve read on the subject at hand, but there is just very little hope of ever accomplishing that. Instead, I am just going to let intention forever act as substitute.
Of worthy mention and recent reading are the following texts: Islands of Holiness: Rural Religion in Upstate New York, 1790-1860 by Curtis D. Johnson, The Crucible and the Millenium by Michael Barkun, Women, Family, and Utopia: Communal Experiments of the Shakers, the Oneida Community, and the Mormons (Utopianism and Communitarianism) by Lawrence Foster, A Shopkeeper’s Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837 by Paul E. Johnson and The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th-Century America also by Paul E. Johnson along with Sean Wilentz. I hope to come back to post in the future and add in notes for each text.
Currently I am absorbing the words of Brian C. Wilson’s Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Religion of Biologic Living which follows the life of Dr. Kellogg through his early association with the founder of the Seventh Day Adventist movement Ellen White through the founding of the Battle Creek Sanitarium and the subsequent decline of both the relationship with White and the prominence of Kellogg’s health reforms.
More on Kellogg once the book is finished (tomorrow). In the mean time soak up the healing feelings of the following postcards sent from the Sanitarium.