Utopia & Sex

JOHN HUMPHREY NOYES was a man of great vision–a deluded and selfish vision–yet one which inspired others to forsake their ordinary lives to join him in Christian communism.

Sharing looks good on paper.

Noyes was a magnetic man who believed in “healing energy.” He believed, like most 19th century perfectionist utopians, that the kingdom of heaven would be ushered in, not by trumpets and angels, but by good Christian men and women.

Noyes, in a dark night of the soul, convinced himself that he was to lead humanity (or at least a bunch of Americans) to this new heaven on earth. As their leader he would share his revelation (after marrying a dowdy but financially secure woman) that the first system of marriage illustrated throughout Genesis was now obsolete. Hadn’t Jesus told the SADDUCEES there were no marriages in heaven?

nymphs_finding_the_head_of_orpheus
Nymphs Finding The Head Of Orpheus

As above, so below was Noyes’ mantra. There were healings and possibly some good times. Mediocrity was seen as a special characteristic–one that kept people humble–even as Noyes’ enjoyed more and more power. By decreeing himself highly trained in love-making and instituting a “training program” by which young men were taught self control and the right way to sexually please women without getting them pregnant, Noyes’ embraced selective breeding and women’s rights.

What could possibly go wrong?

A friend of mine who grew up in a free love commune said it was a terribly unstable and lonely place for children. He noted the feel was more like a harem than anything heavenly. Dowdy women often footed the bills. Good-looking men were fought over.

john-william-waterhouse-the-easy-chair
Lonely child?

I lived with a couple who believed in no special god. They believed only they created the universe. They believed in wind turbines and open, communistic marriages. These beliefs reflected in their real lives looked something like this: hatred for those who weren’t as highly educated and environmentally aware and an underlying aggression toward each other over sexual slights and unmet needs.

Noyes had magnetism. Women wanted to have sex with his magnetism. His wife had to be convinced his revelations were from God.

The community did make nice silverware.

Does free love  work for anyone? I have only anecdotal evidence that it does not.

RELATED: VISIT JOHN HUMPHREY NOYES’ 19th CENTURY COMMUNE: SEX AS GOOD MEDICINE

ONEIDA SILVERWARE

READ ABOUT BUCK CRENSHAW’S ADVENTURES AT A 19th CENTURY COMMUNE

 

 

Friendship

john-everett-millais-spring-apple-blossoms
Apple Blossoms by John Everett Millais

Ah, friend, let us be true
To one another! For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain,
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

–Matthew Arnold.

 

God as Tyrant

the-seamstress
Seamstresses by Frank Holl

“While I regarded God as a tyrant I thought my sin a trifle; But when I knew Him to be my Father, then I mourned that I could ever have kicked against Him. When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good.” C. H. Spurgeon

LINK: SLAVES OF THE NEEDLE

Envy is Ignorance

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better or worse, as his portion; that, though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given him to till.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson.

the-letter
The Letter (c. 1878), by James Tissot

For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:16-17

LINK: A NOVEL BASED ON THE LIFE OF PAINTER JAMES TISSOT

FICTION: Words Said In Confidence

Christmas on Fifth Avenue by Alice Barber Stephens
Christmas on Fifth Avenue by Alice Barber Stephens

After learning that Fred has taken his girl, Buck Crenshaw advises his sister Thankful against marriage.

Buck and Thankful could hear their parents bickering below them in the parlor.

“I wish they would just divorce!” Thankful complained.

“Marriage is foolish,” Buck said, feeling even more hopeless. “I won’t consider it again.”

“You say that now, but one day . . .” Thankful began.

“It’s impossible,” Buck insisted, closing the subject. “And what about you, sis? Anyone in town who strikes your fancy?”

Thankful played with her curls and rolled her eyes. “No, no one who’s in town.”

“So someone who’s gone out of town then?” Buck laughed. “Someone I know?”

“Yes, but he hasn’t noticed me and he’s in the West.”

“Not William?”

“I know you don’t like him, but. . .” Thankful began.

“He’s a moron!” Buck moaned. “No, Willy won’t do.”

“William is not a moron. He knows about art and other things too– if only you got to know him you’d see. And he’s so kind to his parents—the way he helps his father—it’s so—chivalrous. And he helped me out of a puddle and took it so seriously,” Thankful said as if she might swoon.

“So you want someone who can splash around in puddles with his morphine-addicted father? Very high standards you have, sis. And how would Willy earn his keep? It’s so like him to become an artist of all things. Maybe Father could bankroll the bastard,” Buck said, getting to his feet.

“Stop it, Buck,” Thankful replied, holding out her hand for Buck to help her up. “Why are you so jealous?”

“I’m not. It’s only I don’t understand why women and even Father are so impressed with a morose, coddled little cripple.”

“I suppose we should all be impressed with a thin, violet-eyed cadet who gets in heaps of trouble,” Thankful teased. “Was it his fault that he fell from a horse? I might go and visit William sometime.”

Buck laughed. “Good luck getting permission for that. You’re such a dreamer.”

“Why shouldn’t I go?” Thankful asked, hands on hips. “You boys go wherever and all I do is watch babies. I wish Father and Mama would stop it. I don’t see how they still do it with all that fighting.”

“They’re idiots.”

Thankful laughed. “Land sakes, you have a kind word for everyone this Christmas.”

“Well, I like you, Thankful.”

“Thanks, Buckie, I’m honored.”

Buck took her by the chin. “You don’t want to go west. If a man wants you, let him come.”

“Maybe William has already met a nice girl.”

“In the West? I doubt it. But maybe he doesn’t want a nice girl.” Buck meant to insult William, but saw it hurt Thankful. “Stay home till I graduate and we’ll take a bully trip together.”

Thankful embraced Buck with her eyes on the door. She had her own plans.

 

***FOR MORE ALICE BARBER STEPHENS: AMERICAN GALLERY

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”

PART ONE HERE

PART TWO HERE

PART THREE HERE

PART FOUR HERE

PART FIVE HERE

PART SIX HERE

PART SEVEN HERE

PART EIGHT HERE

PART NINE HERE

PART TEN HERE

PART ELEVEN HERE

PART TWELVE HERE

PART THIRTEEN HERE

PART FOURTEEN HERE

PART FIFTEEN HERE

PART SIXTEEN HERE

PART SEVENTEEN HERE

PART EIGHTEEN HERE

PART NINETEEN HERE

PART TWENTY HERE

PART TWENTY ONE HERE

Love

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A Song Of Springtime by John William Waterhouse

The voice of my beloved!
    Behold, he comes,
leaping over the mountains,
    bounding over the hills.
 My beloved is like a gazelle
    or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands
    behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
    looking through the lattice.
 My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away,
 for behold, the winter is past;
    the rain is over and gone.
 The flowers appear on the earth,
    the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.
The fig tree ripens its figs,
    and the vines are in blossom;
    they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away.

SONG OF SOLOMON