Tuesday, September 05, 2006

American Lutheranism in the Real World

Dear Dr. Aune,

I thought I might share a little story with you. This summer I was at
a church rummage sale in New Hampshire with my in-laws. I hadn't
planned on buying anything but ran across a small recipe book in
English and German from the Amana colonies in Iowa. They had one page
about the Amana colonies and how they came to be. Following that
there were many recipes involving lard. I bought the book anyway.
Then, as Will and I were driving on I-80 this August on our way to my
internship in Toledo, we saw a sign that announced the Amana colonies.
I hadn't realized we were so close, and we were also ready for a
break. So we followed the signs.

Some of our discoveries were disappointing; Amana has tried to draw on
the tourist trade in order to stay afloat. Others were delightful; we
had a tour through one of the communal kitches with the grandson of
one of the kitchen bosses. It was just as the kitchen had been when
they had stopped using it in the 1920's (or maybe 30's?). We stopped
at the smokehaus in one of the Amanas and bought good German wursts
and some potato salad (almost as good as my Oma's), and toured the
woolen mills. We ran out of time to visit one of the churches there
(would have loved to see that), but did find some info on the church.

The Amana colonies were founded by members of the Community of True
Inspiration, which formed a Glaubensbekentniss (Profession of Faith)
in 1839. If you'd like, I'll send a copy of this info. Rather
interesting- they retain conservative dress for the women and separate
sides of the church for men and women, but believe that the Holy
Spirit inspired divine testimony between 1714 and 1883 (wouldn't you
love to know what happened in 1883?)

Knowing you and your interest in American Lutheranism, I wouldn't be
surprised if you have already visited Amana and know all about the
Community of True Inspiration (in case you haven't and I haven't said
it already, the Community of True Inspiration is a Lutheran offshoot).

I should also tell you that my internship site, Salem Lutheran Church
in Toledo, OH, is the oldest Lutheran church in Toledo (now one of
roughly 40) and was formed back in 1844 (I think) as a union Lutheran
and Reformed congregation by German immigrants. I was very glad I had
read The Lutherans when I found that out.


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