An Honorable Harvest - Shakers and the Natural World

by Carl Benton Straub, PhD.

The great historian of religions in America, Sydney Ahlstrom of Yale, called the Shakers " one of the American marvels." Ahlstrom was referring to the influences of the Shakers' model of religious community within the nation's many social experiments, especially during the nineteenth century. This fresh new study extends the appreciation of the Shakers to include their efforts to make religious sense out of the natural environments within which the villages were embedded.

The book is a contribution to the story of how religious movements initiated in Europe became American through taking seriously the land. In the Shaker ways of looking at the world, there is a basic religious unity between what is going on in history-"in the course of human events"- and what is at work in nature. The essential Shaker response to the land and the varied communities of life entwined with the land-wild and domestic-is the translation through interpretation and labor of nature's variables into patterns of meaning which reflect Shaker interest in religious community.

Carl Benton Straub has been Professor of Religion and Clark A. Griffith Professor of Environmental Studies at Bates College, Lewiston, ME, where he taught for over forty years. He also served Bates for eighteen years as the Dean of Academic Affairs. Straub did his undergraduate work in Colgate University and earned the theological degree and PhD. from Harvard. His broad intellectual interests focus on how cultural traditions influence human perceptions of the natural worlds. An Honorable Harvest is part of Straub's on-going study of religious interpretations of American landscapes.

166 PAGES. PHOTOS. ENDNOTES.

TO ORDER BY MAIL, SEND PAYMENT OF $14.95 (PPD) TO: SHAKER PRESS, 707 SHAKER RD., NEW GLOUCESTER, ME 04260.