Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Back to the Garden

While a graduate assistant at Temple University in 1992, I was hired for two days to rent a van and drive a Japanese film crew around Philadelphia as they followed and interviewed UFO specialist David Jacobs, who taught at Temple. The leader of the project had studied at Brigham Young University in the late 1960s, and this was her first time back to the states since she'd graduated. She saw similarities between Mormon (i.e. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) beliefs and paranormal activities, and was lately drawn to the idea of alien abductions.

Jacobs was a cool guy to work for, though I remained (and remain) neutral about UFOs and the idea of aliens sneaking among us. I was far more interested in alternative and utopian communities present and historical, and after a final drop off of the film crew at the airport (they next headed to the American Southwest to film mysterious lights in the sky and other phenomena), I drove to the Ephrata Cloister in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. This cloister had been a complete German language community with inner celibate orders aided by a surrounding houesholder order, starting way back in 1732, and later known as the Seventh Day Dunker or Seventh Day German Baptist Church (part of a larger movement, with a Saturday Sabbath day). Marie Elizaebth Kachel Bucher, last surving member of the local group, died just last year. She was 98 years old.

The Ephrata Cloister is now a National Historic Landmark operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The core grounds include startlingly beautiful wooden structures (almost medieval in appearance) and a lot of lush greenery. It's rare to see anything like this in the USA and far stranger than mainstream fiction.

Another historic garden. Nice sunken foot path skirts the edges. This one was tended to by Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon I) on the island of St. Helena, where he lived in final exile from France.

Today's Rune: Joy.


Charles Gramlich said...

That photo is pretty cool. I once, in my teenage years, pretty much believed in UFOs. I'm considerably more skeptical these days.

Adorably Dead said...

That's pretty neat and the photo is just pretty.

the walking man said...

It is hard to keep the old beliefs alive when the rule of celibacy applies to a large portion of a community. But then on the other hand celibacy does give one a certain energy to make lovely things.

Sidney said...

Sounds like a cool assignment. Christine is fascinated by utopian societies as well. I tend to agree about UFOs. My official position on most things paranormal is, they probably don't exist. But it would be really cool if they did!

jodi said...

OFOs blah. Celibacy schmellacy. Eric, you have done some really cool things!

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.