Pic of the day: I have no count of the hours I spent along the small river or large stream in my childhood. Two of these flow together on our farm, and continue as one. That's pure fact, no heavy-handed symbolism unless you think the Creator is into that. I certainly didn't give it a second thought until now.
My circuit of brotherhood is completed, as I spent this afternoon with my middle brother and his family. Well, most of his family. The oldest boys have left the nest, but there were approximately 10 left. (I did not actually count them, but I think there were 9 or 10.) It was beautiful to see the friendship and peace among the children, and the warm affection between the parents. Not much change there.
Of course, being Itlands, two of the boys managed to cut their fingers on a sharp knife during the evening for no good reason. My brother put cow bandages on them, which are quite advanced and stop the bleeding effectively. He counts this as learning experiences and is not unduly worried. But when the smallest crawled up on the kitchen table to inspect the hot baking iron, we agreed that the learning experience of burning his fingers ought to wait till next day, so as to not confuse it with the knife thing...
Oh, and they had the most delicious food. I think I managed to restrict myself reasonably well, but there were just so many good things. Even the cauliflower soup was delicious.
The house was much as I had last seen it, but there was one glaring exception in the furniture. A largish TV was visible in the living room. "So, the school has required children to watch TV?" I asked, for I remembered my youngest brother telling me that he would buy one when the kids started school. (This, however, was the brother older than that again.) "No", his wife explained, "it lets us follow the broadcasts from Brunstad."
Yes, it turns out that the pious congregation popularly known as "Smith's Friends" have started fairly frequent satelite broadcasting from their conference senter at Brunstad. And also from related activities arranged by DKM - Den Kristelige Menighet (The Christian Church) as they now officially call themselves.
When I first remember, the Church was reluctant to use any formal name or indulge in any formalities whatever. The name they eventually used to register their buildings and such was as general as possible, and not used internally. We only referred to the congregation as The Church, the way the first apostles did, before the fragmentation of christendom. This practice was considered particularly pious. Things are now more formalized - I think they even have a register of members, which was considered practically blasphemy before. It's hard to use the same level of organization when there are tens of thousands of people as when everybody knew everybody, I guess.
But some things are the same, I see. I could verify this because my sister-in-law gracefully let me watch a video from a fund-raising meeting. Fund-raising or fun-raising, it was evident that they still have a great sense of community.
I was not raised in that congregation, nor in particular piety. My parents were careful to not imprint on me any particular theology or ritual. The religious dimension of my life was provided mainly by my grandmother, who insisted that we fold our hands and say grace before each meal. My parents did nothing actively to abolish this, but I got the impression that they would hardly have invented it either. What they did enforce to extremes however was a ban on cursing or swearing. Nothing of the sort was allowed, and my father stated plainly that any word I did not understand was to be considered as swearing. I soon had a very extensive vocabulary!
My parents had a small statue of Buddha near the large clock in the kitchen, and I grew up reading both Norse mythology and quotes from the Mahabharata, a Hindu national and religious epic. My father also stated plainly that he saw no conflict between religion and evolution. Neither do I, incidentally.
My brother, the one I visited today, was born saintly. (Much like my mother, I believe.) He was almost blameless, except for lying, which he actually did just for fun, not to gain any unrightful benefit. Even so, he somehow found some things to repent as he grew up, and he repented and joined "Smith's Friends". I tagged along, and they have taught me some of the most important things in my life. I say that without shame. The congregation was founded by true mystics whose inner life was highly developed. As an extreme introvert myself, their teachings have been very valuable to me. I'd like to go into details, but perhaps another time.
Their social structure and lifestyle is centered on the family, and this is one major reason why I do not feel comfortable with the congregation now. I am so not a family man. Also I obviously don't share their fear of contamination by contact with The World. But I suppose they won't feel that way for long either, now that TV is growing common. As the text said on the TV box back in the old days: "Jetzt kommt die Welt ins Haus" - Now the world comes into the home.
In a way, I feel that I have visited a natural preserve that will soon be gone forever. And the endangered species that was kept in that preserve was Innocence. Soon, I fear, it will be gone from humanity completely, except for a glimpse of Heaven in a baby's eyes.
Tomorrow will be travel day, and I will not be able to update my journal for that one day. If I arrive home safe and sound on Sunday, I will try to upload a Saturdiary too. We shall just have to see.
Sun! Blue skies!
Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.