What Can A Man Do With Babes? [The Book of Shalam]
Jehovih said: Have faith in thy Creator; in a good work done unto My little ones, behold, I will provide. Whatsoever thou dost unto them, even so dost thou unto Me, wherein thou shalt not fail. Neither shalt thou strive to teach any adult man or woman who is without faith in Me. Behold, My people are infants in this era.The Book of Jehovih’s Kingdom on Earth 1:12-14
Hello, friends and neighbors, and welcome to Oahspepals. It’s the show where two non-believers read through the Oahspe and try not to be jerks about it. We are your humble Sons of Jehovih. I’m Dave White and with me as always, the sar’gis to my su’is, Rob Brunskill.
Rob, how are you today?
I’m doing well.
Good. Anything exciting happening?
Oh, well, it’s nice to be in the remote hidden location for the lodge.
If Rob sounds a little peevish today that’s because we attempted to record this last week and had a catastrophic audio failure. So this our second try at recording this episode.
Now, for those of you not familiar with the Oahspe, it is a 1,000 page book written by dentist and Spiritualist John Ballou Newbrough through the process of automatic writing. Essentially, for fifty weeks, half an hour every day, he would sit down at his typewriter, and let the spirit of God flow through him, and type. (That’s three pages a day – if they had NaNoWriMo in 1880, our boy Johnny B would be crushing it.) The result is a bible for our coming age, the Kosmon Era. Newbrough and some followers established a new religion based on this called Faithism, which eventually led them to establish an ill-fated colony in the desert of New Mexico.
Today we’re reading The Book of Jehovih’s Kingdom of Earth, which containeth within in the Book of Shalam. It was the last book in the original 1882 edition of the OAHSPE, though later printings add a supplementary “Book of Discipline” after it in the reading order.
If you’d like to read along with us at home, the specific text we’re using is from The Light of Kosmon, a collection of the “doctrinal books” published by the British “Confraternity of Faithists” in 1939. It omits some 28 “historical books” between the Book of Jehovih and the Book of Judgment, or some 83% of the total text. (I only picked this version because it was a little easier on the eyes, to be honest.)
Rob, have you done the required reading?
Yes I have.
Right. Let’s dive right into it. This is “The Book of Jehovih’s Kingdom of Earth, which contains within it The Book of Shalam, all of which is ante-script.” So there’s a little footnote in this edition after the word “ante-script,” explaining that it is… let’s see what the footnote says exactly…
Well, the first thought is anti-script, you think anti-matter or something like that, it’s not script, it’s anti-script. But it’s ante with an e, a-n-t-e.
Well, the actual definition is, “We understand by this term, and also by the book itself, what is set forth as being in the past, has net yet occurred.” If only there was a word for some sort of writing that was about things that have yet to happen. It strikes me that there’s probably some very common word for it but it’s just on the tip of my tongue. I can’t place it. Can you?
No, I can’t. There’s probably sonething, but ante-script will have to do.
I don’t know about you, but my experience of reading this book was that it was very front-loaded. There was a lot of interesting thing going on at the beginning and then it tailed off real hard.
That is definitely the case.
So let’s start off with Chapter One, where Jehovih starts his kingdom on earth. In the early days of the Kosmon Era we have a man called… Tae? Tai? I don’t know how it’s pronounced.
In my head I heard it as Tae.
Let’s go with Tae, that’s good enough. Tae is a man esteemed “wise and good above all others,” a “representative man,” and therefore he is called Tae. This seems like an absolutely meaningless etymology, so it’s probably good to know that one of the big things in the Oahspe‘s cosmology is that all nations of the Earth were once united in a giant super-continent called Pan, which gave us all a universal or “Panic” language.
“Panic” is definitely a good word for this writing.
After the continent gets sunk beneath the waves and mankind gets split up, this is sort of a Tower of Babel thing where all our languages drift apart. In the original Panic language, “Tae” means “the highest general expression of something.” So basically we’re saying, “he’s a good guy.”
I can see where the author intended that to be the case.
Tae comes out of the land of “Uz,” which is a term that appears repeatedly throughout the Oahspe. It’s another Panic word, and it specifically refers to “the vanishment of things seen into being unseen,” but in a general sense here it’s being used to refer to the kingdom of those who reject Spirituality and Faithism and who’ve embraced the beast of materialism.
Yes. And a thinly-veiled reference to the U.S., I think.
And also, I think, to us.
Tae gathers around him a bunch of followers and he does what any righteous man does, he prays to Jehovih to tell him what to do. Jehovih tells him, “go found the Kingdom of Jehovih on Earth,” and Tae’s response is very much like Bill Cosby in his Noah sketch, he says, “and how do I do that?”
The gathering those around him, I did like: “Behold, O Jehovih, I have gathered together many men and many women, and they all profess a desire to found Thy kingdom. One desireth to be a teacher; another, to be a superintendent; another, an overseer; another, an adviser.” (1:5-6) So, by my count, it’s himself and he’s got four other people with him.
At least four outher people. There’s probably other people he’s not mentioning. He doesn’t have to mention Todd the Janitor and all the other people who are just helping out. But at least four people.
God admittedly here has given him a rather broad remit so he narrows it down a little for Tae: “Go, find some babies and take them out into the desert and raise them to be super-people.”
Yes. I do like the specific quote: “Go, seek, and bring out of Uz orphan babes and castaway infants and foundlings.” (1:9) So, yeah, basically, God saying, “What you need to do is start by rounding up a whole mess of kids.”
That phrase, “orphan babes and castaway infants and foundlings” is repeated verbatim in the Oahspe any time he refers to the children of Shalam. John Ballou Newbrough loves his repetition and that’s just one of the phrases he’s going to beat into your head before this book is over.
Definitely loves his repetition.
Does he love his repetition?
He loves his repetition. And I do like Tae’s response to that, which is fantastic if you take it out of context. “Tae inquired: What can a man do with babes?” (1:11)
I think I have definitely seen advertisements in the back of comic books and other magazines telling me what a man can do with babes, but it’s a fair response. “What do I know from babies?” Needless to say, Jehovih gets a little peevish at that response and says, “cowboy up and git ‘er done.” Basically he gives a short little quote which we gave at the top of the episode, which is essentially, “Do my work and I will provide,” which he ends with the phrase, “Behold, my people are infants in this era.” (1:14) Which, okay, yes, he is specifically referring to the little babies but I also get an undercurrent of, “Holy crap, this is the best guy on earth and he cannot think for himself.”
Yeah, that’s definitely the case.
Let’s get to chapter two, which I have subtitled, “Tae rounds up some babies and gets a girlfriend.”
Or my subtitle, “Es.”
So Tae gathers up a great number of orphan babes and castaway infants and foundlings and Jehovih sends him a woman named Es to take care of the children.
Tae’s immediate question, “Knowest thou the care of infants? And she answered him, saying: In such labour, alas, I have had no experience, but I know Jehovih will guide me aright; otherwise He had not inspired my soul unto the work. All wisdom is possible through Jehovih.” (2:6-7) So, going into an interview, “What are your qualifications?” then just looking at him and going, “Qualifications?”
“All wisdom is possible through Jehovih” is a very good attitude to have, “All things are possible in God.” But there’s also the phrase “The Lord helps those who help themselves,” which the Faithists to not appear to believe in. If you are capable of anything, it is only because it is Jehovih acting through you.
In spite of the fact that Jehovih could conceivably impart this knowledge to anyone, note that it is only a woman who is allowed to take care of the babies. Faithism is very big on reinforcing traditional gender roles for some reason. A lot of 19th century cults and religions were very big on gender equality, it was a huge part of their appeal, so it’s strange to see one where that isn’t the case.
Tae likes the answers: “Such being thy faith, thou art the first chosen woman in the Father’s new kingdom.” (2:8) Initially he did say he had a whole bunch of men and women. But Es is the first chosen woman.
Maybe she’s chosen in the same way that Tae himself is chosen.
It’s worth noting that Es is the most important woman in the whole Oahspe. So important that she’s only appearing here for the first time on page 805, and she is going to vanish for twelve pages before she appears again.
Also like Tae, her name is a concept, not an exact name.
“Es” is also “the spirit world,” presumably because she is strong in faith and a gift from Jehovih. There is also a separate character in the Oahspe, Es the Daughter of Jehovih. I don’t think they’re the same character but don’t quote me on that.
Obviously they’ve got a bunch of babies. Es can take care of the babies but she needs a support system. So what do the Faithists do here? They take out a classified ad in the newspaper.
This is a recommendation from God, though, because Tae has no idea that this is something he should do. He once again asks, “Hey, now it’s me and Es an a whole buncha kids, what do we do?”
Well, you take out a want ad. “Wanted, fifty men and women, who are Faithists in Jehovih, and are willing to take part in founding the Father’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!” (2:12) And they run this in the paper and how many job applicants do they get? A couple dozen?
They claim it to be thousands.
Wow. ‘Tis a down economy so people are just jumping at those jobs.
Yeah. “Tae spake unto the multitude, saying: I called for fifty men and women, and, lo, here are thousands, willing to take part in founding the Father’s kingdom on earth. ” (2:16)
This of course is once phrased as a plea to Jehovih, and Jehovih is once again forced to give Tae the specific advice of, like, hey, maybe you should do some job interviews or something? Weed out the people who are just in it for the money and who are not really into it?
And I like how it’s basically Tae saying to the multitudes that he put the job application out for, “Hey, anybody know what we’re supposed to be doing here?”
That brings us to chapter three, “Tae conducts some job interviews.” Which is the longest chapter in the book for no particular reason. He has a thousand people, he needs to winnow those down to fifty, so we get a bunch of individual job interviews.
First up we get Sutta, who appears to be either a CEO or an economist or a city planner of some sort, who promises to create harmonious relations between labor and capital without giving any specifics about how he’s going to do that.
Well, it does say, “That the capitalist shall receive good profit on his capital; and the laborer high and uniform wages.” (3:4)
I know that’s the first thing I look for when I’m establishing a perfect society, to make sure that the capitalists are properly reimbursed.
And adjust them so that they can live side by side, equally, and neither above nor under the other. So it is sort of communist idea, we’re all going to share equally in…
Sure, but if the capitalists are equal to the laborers, where’s the capital coming from? It’s a very strange idea of how things work.
Sutta is “followed by several others, who had similar plans, but each one doubted the other’s capacity, as being qualified for the work.” (3:8)
Everyone liked this, but no one could really agree on who should be the one to determine what is fair and equal.
Sutta is followed by Aborn, who gets things off to a great start by saying that Sutta is an idiot, that labor and capital are natural enemies, as are men and women.
“Aborn spake next. He said: I have heard Sutta’s project. lt is a farce. Capital and labour cannot harmonize.” (3:9)
I’m inclined to agree with him. But he loses me when he says the best way to serve Jehovih is for Aborn personally to impregnate as many women as possible so they will have his superior babies.
His basic premise is that the only way people work together is if they’re all blood related as family. I’m sure there are people out there who can assure you that all families always work together in harmony.
Aborn proposes that he be the one to impregnate all the women, “and others spake in like manner, but each one preferred himself as the prospective father of the offspring.” (3:17)
Aborn is followed by Thurtis. She gives the gender-flipped version of Aborn’s argument, that the best way to serve Jehovih is for her to have all the superior babies and also that while this is going on she should be treated like a goddess and all the men should leave her the hell alone.
I liked her first approach, which was “During the period of gestation, man should not approach woman.” (3:20) Basically, all the men should go away and not come back until the baby is born.
Needless to say she is followed by a group of people, “then spake many of the women after the same manner, and each one doubted the other’s capacity to fill the place, but recommended herself.” (3:28)
All the women liked it, but they couldn’t agree on who should be the chosen one.
Thurtis is followed by Amos, who I actually kind of liked because his section is brief and he’s relatively honest.
I certainly liked the majestic way in which he introduces himself. It is a very majestic piece of scripture. “Amos spake next. He said: I have heard all these beautiful systems; I am ready for any of them. Behold, I am a landscape gardener.” (3:29)
I think we should all introduce ourself that way when popcorning. “Behold! I am a user interface developer!”
Of course, the thing is, labor isn’t included on his part.
He says he’s a landscape gardener, well, not really a landscape gardener per se, just a guy who designs landscape gardens. If they want to employ him they’re going to have to hire a bunch of people to do the actual gardening.
He generally represents all professionals. It was a fascinating choice to go with that and not the five hundred doctors and five hundred lawyers who had similar views.
Just when you think we are going to get every possible job interview under the sun, we cut those off short.
The last one they mention is, “Next spake a thousand teachers of the piano, each one offering to teach the young for the Father’s kingdom.” (3:33) That’s where he starts realizing, you know what? I need to move on here.
I like that there are a thousand teachers of the piano, because earlier he said that only a thousand people total had shown up. So all these people are piano teachers on the side. But yes, at this point Tae gets the idea that maybe he should hurry this chapter along.
Next we get the recriminations. All the representatives of the major faiths of the world come and tell him that he’s got it wrong and that he’s going to hell.
We get five hundred priests of Brahma.
The Hindus say that the end of the world will be the second coming of Brahma, who will come in flames of fire from the east and west and north and south, and through the magic touch of his wand he will sort the castes of men into their proper order. That at least sounds vaguely Brahma-ish.
They are followed by Buddhists, who say the end of the world will be the second coming of Buddha, who will come with two swords and twelve spears and ten thousand brides.
Plus they add in the dis, “As for Brahma and his second coming, for that matter, he never came once.” (3:43)
Oh burn! That’s hard.
I like that he has two swords and ten thousand brides, because if we all know one thing Buddha is big on it’s moderation. All things in moderation.
Yes. A moderate two swords and twelve spears and ten thousand brides. A moderate amount of brides.
He’s Buddha. He can have any bride he wants, but he only brought the choicest ten thousand. They are followed by the Kriste’yans. Are you familiar with Kriste’yans?
I have never heard of Kriste’yans before.
Well, you know them better as Christians. A key tenet of the Oahspe is that all the world religions are actually false religions established by evil spirits who have usurped the teachings of true and wise individuals. So, there is a Jesus of Nazareth, and he did preach a beautiful gospel, but some time around the Council of Nicea his whole faith was stolen by an evil spirit named “Looeamong” who renamed himself Kriste, “The All-Wise” and made it a religion of violence. So, modern Christian? You worship an evil demon.
The Kriste’yans say that the second coming of Kriste will be the end of the world and he will come in a sea of fire with millions of archangels and conquer the world by the sword.
Once all the religions have spoken, Tae shuts them all down. “I called for such as had faith in Jehovih. I am not in the labour of founding a kingdom for Brahma, nor Buddha, nor Kriste, nor for anyone but the Creator, our heavenly Father… To all such I say, go your ways, I have no use for you.” (3:59,61)
Seriously, guys, did you actually read the help wanted ad? We’re not calling for your kind here.
Then he responds by kicking out the people who are only in it for the money. “Yonr faith being in money, I have no use for you. I called for those with faith in Jehovih! Therefore, go your ways also.” (3:65)
And also, the self-appointed leaders should also just get out.
“Behold, the signs of the times show that, as to founding the Father’s kingdom by words, sermons and lectures, they are worthless.” (3:73)
That struck me as a quip against self-help gurus.
Deeds, not words.
By the time Tae is done kicking out everyone he doesn’t like they’re back down to the original fifty he was looking for and they’re hired on the spot. Which brings us to chapters four through six, the founding of Shalam.
It’s mostly Tae setting out his mission statement for Shalam, which is repeating what Jehovih told him to do back in chapter one: take a bunch of babies out into the desert and raise them to be perfect people.
This particular chapter struck me as, “It’s prayer time! We’re gonna talk about what we plan to do.”
So they find the land of Shalam, and it is called Shalam because Tae said it would be called Shalam. That’s the etymology given in the book. The exact quote is, “And Tae and his people went away to an unoccupied country, by the river Shalam, so-called because Tae had said: I take the babes the Uzians would not have, and I come to a place where the Uzians would not live, and yet I will make it a place of peace and plenty; therefore it shall be called Shalam.” (4:2-3) It’s possible that “Shalam” means “peace and plenty.” On the other hand, unlike every other word in the book it is not given a clear etymology, which is unusual because John Ballou Newbrough loves telling you what secret words really mean.
I suppose it could be a warping of “salaam” or “shalom.”
Tae then launches into a little screed against the modern world, which I found interesting from a modern perspective because his basic take is that it’s not that people are evil, it’s that people are not good, which reminds me of the discussions we’re having about racism in this day and age.
I can definitely see that.
At this point the chapter devolves into a series of rituals and prayers. Everyone draws themselves into a sacred circle at either the Place of the Holy Covenant or the Place of the Sacred Covenant depending on which chapter you’re looking at, and they make a covenant with Jehovih giving over their body and soul, forswearing the ownership of personal property and any self-interest, and bizarrely, not to criticize anyone over the age of fourteen.
Because when you’re leading someone on a risky venture like this you don’t want to hear a lot of criticism and talkback on the subject.
They also promise to be pacifists, vegetarians and teetotalers and to raise the babies to be their own kin; to know the glory of Jehovih; to develop their su’is and sar’gis — which is not explained but means ESP; to teach them books and instruments, trades and occupations, music and worship, dancing and gymnastics; and then to kick them out of the colony when they turn fourteen.
To a degree this struck me as their version of the Lord’s Prayer, although it is definitely not short and snappy like the Lord’s Prayer. I would hate to have to memorize something like this.
Once this covenant has been made Jehovih speaks through Tae, promises to provide for the Faithists of Shalam in the same way that they are providing for the babies, and tells them to proclaim the founding of Jehovih’s Kingdom of Earth in the east and west and north and south. With both the literalism of Tae and the love of repetition of John Ballout Newbrough we get four verses where he does exactly that. They’re phrased exactly the same except that the cardinal direction is different.
Let me hear all the east people go yeah! Let me hear all the west people go yeah! Tae definitely had a DJ side to him.
Chapter 6, verse 20 we get our first mention of Satan in the book. I should stress this is “satan” with a lowercase s. There is a capital S Satan in the Oahspe, but this is lowercase s satan meaning that it is probably just intended to be used in the general sense of adversary. “As satan, in the management of his soldiers for war purposes, hath demonstrated the advantage of power through discipline, let us be wise in the Father’s kingdom, by discipline also, but in peace and righteousness.” Essentially, I don’t like the devil, he’s evil, but he does make a couple good points about management.
We need order. Just not force and being violent.
After establishing a covenant with God, the Faithists establish a covenant with each other, creating a hierarchy for how the colony will run. This is not internally consistent with other ideas in the book, which argue that the best government is no government, but we’ll let that slide for now. The basic structure is that everyone divides into groups of ten and the wisest man in each group is promoted chief. That’s still going to lead them with at least five chiefs so they need a chief of chiefs. What would be a good name, you think, for the chief of chiefs?
Not sure, perhaps some sort of new creative name…
Big chief. Something.
The name that they settle on is the c’chief, like this is some sort of weird Expanded Universe novel and they’re all clone Jedi.
Then they actually get around to the process of organizing Shalam in chapters seven through ten. They split into all the groups that are necessary for the functioning of society. Do you know what those groups are off the top of your head there, Rob?
I actually have them written down here. We need architects, clothiers, dieticians, engineers, manufacturers, horticulturalists, agriculturalists, botanists, nurses, physicians, artists, musicians, bloggers, joggers, manicurists, pedicurists, sleepers, sweepers, pickers, grinners, lovers, sinners, jokers, smokers, midnight tokers… I think I wandered into a Steve Miller Band song.
You can forget everything after musicians there. That is the whole list. There are twelve different types of people that society needs and that ends after musicians. No second-class telephone sanitizers, none of that. To repeat the shorter list, that’s: architects, clothiers, dieticians, engineers, manufacturers, horticulturalists, agriculturalists, botanists, nurses, physicians, artists, and musicians. I’m a little confused that there are three different types of people growing plants in that list.
For different purposes. They’re growing plants for different purposes.
I suppose but what’s the difference… If you’ve got a horticulturalist and an agriculturalist what do you need with a generalized botanist?
I suppose if they’re going out into nowhere they expect to be finding plants they don’t know about. No idea.
Since there are supposed to be ten people in each of these groups and there are only fifty-two people, that means they’re doubling up on a lot of these jobs. It also means there are twelve chiefs out of fifty-two people.
Fifty-two is an interesting number at this point, because I’m recalling that at the very beginning of all of this, Tae went to God and said, “Look, I have a whole bunch of people with me, men and women, who want to found your kingdom on earth.” Then God said go hire some people. Tae got fifty out of that. So, fifty, plus Tae, plus Es, that’s fifty-two, but I’m left wondering what happened to the original people here.
I bet it’s some sort of mergers and acquisitions thing where they make everybody reinterview for their own job.
Yeah, I guess that was the case.
They didn’t make the cut. Sorry. Sucks to be you.
All these groups elect chiefs, Tae is elected c’chief as if there was ever any doubt of that.
Yeah. Big surprise.
I mean, he’s the only named character other than Es in the book so far who is sticking around.
But it is important to point out that no one is above anyone here.
Except for the guy who makes all the decisions.
And what’s his first decision? To tell everyone what their duties are.
He’s going to tell them all how do do their own jobs. Most of these are pretty bland. He goes through the architects, clothiers, and dieticians, realizes he’s getting a bit boring and punts it off to the next section.
In this particular chapter, chapter eight, he just tells the architects, clothiers and dieticians what they need to do. And not surprisingly it’s the architects need to build houses, the clothiers need to make clothes, the dieticians need to feed everybody… And in every case it ends with, “Oh, and have the kids help you.”
I’m a little sad that he cut himself off after the dieticians because I really wanted to see how he’d distinguish the instructions between the agriculturalists and the horticulturalists and the botanists.
We never quite get that distinction made.
Then he gives everyone a pep talk which includes the disturbing phrase, “All mortals are in an embryotic state, preparing for birth (commonly called death).” (8:26)
Chapter nine is largely about establishing the rules for the school where the children will be educated. It’s sort of a Montessori school combined with a trade school with a heaping dollop of religious instruction.
He insists the kids are going to have it all. They’ll have a garden, a conservatory, a laboratory, factory, orchards, fields, gardens, moats, stoats… I’m going off again. The last thing, the most important thing that they need to learn is angel communion. I believe this is where they give a little description of it where they put the kids in a circle that’s a “holy circle” and while they’re in the circle they can see and talk to angels. And that’s how it works. That’s a very concise and detailed explanation of how it works.
I am now reconsidering my pre-school and kindergarten experience, which was essentially just me being put in circles with other children.
Then we have the argument between the celibate. and the non-celibate members over who should have the important job of raising the infants. Should it be people who’ve already had children and raised some children, or should it be people who don’t have children of their own?
This is a very important argument that they bring to Tae, and Tae’s answer is, “What do you want an answer from me for? Come on.”
Jehovih eventually speaks through him to give an answer, that answer is basically, “Everybody sucks at raising children so might as well let anyone do it.”
He does task them with, hey, go out to Uz and look how the children are raised there and ask yourself, “Have they been raised right?” And generally the answer is no, nobody’s been raised right, their parents all had something that they overlooked that let the children not be properly raised. Parents always have a blind spot for their kids.
So that’s the answer. If parents always have a blind spot for their kids then obviously married couples who’ve raised kids before cannot be trusted to raise kids. So we have to put these kids in the hands of the celibate who have not previously raised kids. “Why, then, since those who have r aised children have been failures, ye shall surely not choose them. The celibate have made no failures, for they have not tried.” (10:24)
Which for a moment seems clever and insightful, until you realize all the married people were in the context celibates before they had their children. It’s like asking, “Well, who’s the better doctor, a doctor who’s had a patient die or somebody who’s never gone to med school?” Well, the doctor’s had a patient die but the person who’s not gone to med school has never had a patient die so let’s defer to the person who’s never gone to med school.
That argument settled, we get to chapters eleven through sixteen, which can be summed up as “The land of Shalam flourishes.”
Flourishes in some interesting ways. One of the first thing that Jehovih brings up is, “Behold, the ancients built their temples so durable that succeeding generations forgot the art of building. Better is it for man’s talent to remain, than for stones and pillars of iron.” (11:4) You know the problem with buildings? They’re built too well.
Build your buildings to fall apart. You want a Ryan Home.
“For which reason, in kosmon, thou shalt not build imperishably in corporeal things; but rather leave the way open for succeeding generations to build also.” (11:5) You know what, guys? Let’s build stuff that’s only going to last twenty years tops so that it has to be replaced. Scriptural planned obsolesence.
We get a detailed description of some of those buildings. The Temple of Jehovih has fountains and gongs, a Chinese-style prayer wheel, murals depicting astronomical phenomena and the Etherian Heavens, beautiful flags, and a throne of light (whatever the hell that is.) And what does Tae say when he sees that?
“Who but Gods could have made anything so beautiful with such cheap material!” (11:7)
That is a real backhanded compliment.
Never has something so grand been built with twine and paper mache.
All this tells me is that John Ballou Newbrough has never done set building for a high school musical.
The Uzians come to see the new kingdom, and they are both confused and impressed. The exact quote is, “Why was not this tried before? A people without a leader!” (11:11) They say this to Tae, who is standing right there calling all the shots.
We get a description of the Temple of Apollo. The most salient feature here is a mural of Apollo looking at a group of druks with long arms. And I suspect you do not know what druks are.
No. I kind of assumed based on the description and the implication that they were turned into something beautiful, man, that they were meant to be monkeys as a reference to evolution.
That’s pretty close. Druks are generally sub-human people who seek to do evil. They’re a step below Uzians, maybe, not just that they have turned away from Jehovih but are active malefactors.
There is also a fancy gymnasium and a bunch of buildings which clearly aren’t as important because the author doesn’t spend a page and a half describing them.
He gets twenty paragraphs in describing all these buildings in some degree of detail, and gets to, “And not the least interesting of all was the house of the Nurseries.” (11:20) And that is the extend of the description of the not least interesting thing of all.
It’s only the centerpiece of this entire project, but you know what at nursery looks like, I don’t have to describe one to you.
The voice of Jehovih continually urges Tae and Es — who is showing up now after an absence of twelve pages — get more babies, get more babies, get more babies. Es the only one who actually does any of the work.
It’s sort of handwaved over here, but she gets twenty to fifty new orphans a year.
That’s a pretty good churn! At some point there are more than a thousand orphans in the colony.
In not that many years! Assuming that they started with maybe five hundred, if you add five hundred more… if you’re adding fifty a year that’s still ten years! If you’re getting twenty, that’s more. So ten to twenty-five years of orphans!
At one point the cows on their farm become sick. I don’t know why they have cows, because they are vegans. So they feed the babies essentially a milk substitute made out of corn milk and slippery elm bark and flax seed and rice milk.
Well the first is just corn, they press the milk and boil it. But then the chemists — which, I didn’t know we had chemists, I don’t think chemists were previously on the job list, but they have chemists now.
Maybe chemists are part of the manufacturers. There are certainly no scientists in Shalam.
They make the water extracts from slippery elm bark combined with flax seed and rice milk. Now, out of curiousity I looked up some of these ingredients. We should probably note at this point for legal reasons that slippery elm bark may cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. Slippery elm should not be handled by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
So just the perfect thing for children to have.
As long as no pregnant or breastfeeding women are handling it.
This holy horchata does the trick in the book so the babies grow up big and strong.
Chapter twelve is the testimony of Es, which is about how great the babies are and also includes an argument over whether babies should have blankets or pillows.
Right away she points out there were too many to pick up and bottle feed each one, and to pick up and hold them all when they cried, so she just didn’t do any of that. When asking God for advice, Jehovih said: “Thou shalt permit them to lie down, and to roll about.” (12:5)
Benign neglect is the best sort of parenting.
Chapter thirteen is Tae talking about the babies, who are hot babies, hot fit babies who know anatomy and gardening and had ESP.
One of the more inspiring bits here is in the second paragraph: “And, moreover, they were of all shades of colour, and of all nations and peoples on the earth.” (13:2)
A regular United Colors of Benneton.
I did notice they also had, “Simple tournaments embraced games of hunting and chasing; some of them taking the part of foxes or wolves, and others, the part of hunters.” (13:11) I’m not exactly sure why pacifist vegans are doing hunting games.
Hey, it’s a good skill to have.
I guess I could see wolves could be an issue, so you have to keep the population away for the general safety of the colony. Foxes, I’m not exactly sure what their risk is.
It’s like X-Men. Wolverine chases a deer down in the forest, and just holds his hand up to it but doesn’t pop his knives. He’s doing it for the sport, man.
“At six years of age they were entered as apprentices to labour.” (13:16)
Gotta get those children in the mines early. Not that there are any mines in Shalam.
And it is also the time that the children began to manifest their psychic powers.
We’re going to get a detailed desccription of how the children use those psychic powers in chapter fourteen. Essentially it’s the same ritual you described before, they sit in a circle and talk some garbage. There is a long and involved prayer that they recite. Here is my favorite quote from that prayer: “Sing unto the Almighty, O ye little ones; His eye guardeth over you; His hand reacheth to the uttermost places.” (14:13) That sounds like a bad touch to me. You should be talking to your teachers about that.
Chapter fifteen, the kids get to put on a show.
An opera, no less.
I wouldn’t say I’ve seen many children’s dramatics, but I’ve participated in them and I know from experience that they are awful. So I really cannot imagine what a full opera written by children would be like.
Now, they did bring in angel ringers to help with the performance and the angels wrote, choreographed and composed all the performances.
Makes it a little more palatable that I’m not listening to a song written by a four year old.
“Instead of the crude and loud-sounding horns and hideous instruments used by the Uzians for their operas, the opera here was provided with an organ of full power, and with instruments of delicacy and sweetness, so that the most refined ear should not be shocked or pained by any crude or disgusting noise, so common in the Uzian orchestras.” (15:4) Again, I will remind people, played by six year olds.
I will also remind you that if Jehovih is reaching into your uttermost places and showing you his organ of full power then you should probably talk to another adult about this.
“Now, as to the plays, whether in the opera or in the theatre, they varied on different nights, as to being adapted to young children, or to older adults.” (15:5) A reminder again, performed by six year olds.
Wow, there is a lot of hardcore pornography in this play being put on by children but aimed by adults.
“So that, were it necessary to exhibit a drunkard on the stage, it was also shown how the drunkard was surrounded by dark spirits who inspired him to his course; and also was exhibited the struggle of the guardian angels to save him.” (15:8) Again, performed by six year olds.
This is reminding me of those bits on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year where the kids from Mitchellbrook Primary School re-enact current events. It’s all I have to imagine what it’s like.
And in case you’re thinking it’s probably adults who are playing the drunkards, the kids are just there to play kids: “In the simple plays, where the children took their parts at first, they were taught, without books, by repeating after their teachers.” (15:9) So the kids can’t read, but they’re being directed to play instruments, perform operas, and also play drunkards for the benefits of adults.
I would love to be in rehearsals. “Not-mommy, what’s a prostitute?”
Chapter sixteen, as the kids get older Jehovih says, “put them to work.”
By fourteen, they were “masters of all trades.”
Well, there are only twelve trades worth knowing.
As the kids get older they reach a point where they have to be turfed out of the colony or choose to remain. That’s not a fair choice as they’ve been isolated their whole lives, so they do the only sensible thing: they allow the children to have a rumspringa.
At the suggestion of God, saying: “The fourteenth year is My year. Behold, the harvest of My labourers, who came first out of Uz, is ripe unto deliverance.” (17:1)
I realize the whole crop metaphor is very biblical, it still sounds really a little when you’re talking about souls like there’s some sort of evil monster that’s harvesting children’s souls.
And it doesn’t get any better, because: “Tae represented the Voice of Jehovih, and Es the voice of the young brides and bridegrooms who were to speak in concert with her.” (17:11)
I don’t know whether I would rather have my soul harvested by God or become his bride or bridegroom. Then again he has already reached into my uttermost places and shown me his organ of full power, so…
I do find it interesting it is presented as a call-and-response between Tae and Es. The children are right there and could conceivably answer for themselves.
This is more of Newbrough’s repetition. He loves repetition.
In my notes I skipped from paragraph eleven to paragraph fifty-six. Just wanting to note in a reminder, that basically their primary command when being graduated was: “Hereafter ye shall not reprove one another, nor reprove any person above fourteen years of age.” (17:56) In other words, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Got it?
They take the kids on a field trip to Uz. This goes about how you expect. It’s kind of a Buddha moment where they’ve been cloistered for their entire lives, they go out into the real world and see sick people and old people and dead people, and as a result they choose to reject the world.
Their first and most common comment or question is, “What’s that awful smell?”
That’s not the only question they ask. They’re constantly asking the sort of annoying questions a five-year-old would ask you, non-stop throughout the whole field ship.
I do have the note that Uz has tiger fighting, which sounds awesome. I wish they would have elaborated on that. You cannot just drop tiger fighting in there and not explain it.
Other notable incidents: they go to talk to a preacher about ministering to the poor, and he closes his shades and tries to pretend that he’s not home.
The normal response when a group of teenagers comes to your door and says, hey, we want to talk to you about the poor. Nope. Don’t care who I am, I’m not coming out.
Needless to say they find the outside world super gross and decide to go back to their cult compound.
Chapters nineteen and twenty, because the colony is doing so well Jehovih commands them to go out and make more Shalams and convert the people of Uz. The most notable of which is the colony of Illaem in the land of Busiris, wherever that happens to be.
Hopefully not a medical condition.
Children and adults aplenty come to Shalam, but the adults are not admitted to join the colony, they’re just given a hot meal and sent on their way.
Well, if they’re really interested they are given the opportunity to do work under supervision, but yeah, if they don’t work, if they don’t show the proper motivation, they’re out of there.
Only Faithists are allowed to stay.
I will point out that he seems to distinguish between the lazy, who are given a chance, and the poor, who are immediately fed and sent away. We don’t want no poor, okay?
I’m reminded of one point at work where I was forced to read a white paper written by an ignorant CEO and one of his rules for business was, “Don’t do business with poor people, poor people are poor for a reason.” That is not a paraphrase, that is literally what he said.
Chapter twenty-one, Jehovih explains why no one other than the faithful can hear him. It’s not a terribly interesting chapter, TBH.
My note for this chapter was “Yawn.”
Pretty much the same for chapter twenty-two, which is all about, don’t let adults join, just get children they’re easier to indoctriniate.
Chapter twenty-two did have some clues on how to deal with the press.
“Some will seek to trap you on the subject of marriage, inquiring after this manner, to wit: Say ye celibacy is higher than marriage? Or, is marriage the higher? What say ye of marriage and divorce?” (22:8-9)
Well, the answer is: “We are no man’s keeper; neither say we whether celibacy or marriage is the higher.” (22:10) Even though they implied earlier that celibacy was. “We give liberty unto all to serve Jehovih on that matter, but in their own way. One marriage only do we permit to any man or woman. And though one the other die, yet the survivor cannot marry again. And as to such as are married, they can, at the option of either one, return to celibacy, by being publicly proclaimed in the temple of Jehovih.” (22:10)
Only have one marriage, but it can be declared that you didn’t have a marriage. That’s how I took that.
Now, it should be interesting to not here that John Ballou Newbrough was married when he founded the Faithists, got divorced from his wife who was not a Faithist, remarried a woman who was a Faithist and for whom it was also her second marriage, and then after Newbrough died she married another Faithist.
Not at all confusing.
But that is a very Jesus-like evasion of the question. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, render unto God what is God’s.” Don’t take a position on which they’re going to be able to nail you down and I probably shouldn’t have said that in relation to Jesus.
But they are also asked, “Who is the leader? Who is the highest? Who is the head? Ye shall answer them, saying: Jehovih. We have no man-leader; no man who is higher than another. We are brothers and sisters.” (22:12) We certainly don’t have a ridiculously-named c’chief who tells everyone what their job is, who we should never question, ,and who we should overlook any shortcomings.
That’s an interesting question because you’ll note that even when Tae is making decisions it’s not Tae making those decisions, it’s Jehovih speaking through Tae. So I guess the argument is that Jehovih is really in charge and Tae is just a conduit. But it still seems like he’s kind of in charge? Because Jehovih could speak through anyone but he only speaks through Tae.
And chapter twenty-three is kind of an anti-climax. They win. As the kids grow up they become perfect beings, pure of heart, healthy in body, wise in spirit, and the progenitors of a new race of man.
It’s important to note that “none of these colonies were bound by written laws, nor had any of them leaders or masters, nor any government. save the Light of Jehovih.” (23:18) They certainly didn’t have a 900 page bible to go off of, they certainly didn’t have 10% of their population acting as chiefs or c’chiefs…
All glory here is God’s, people.
The Uzians see all that has happened in the land of Shalam and they leave their materialistic lives behind and become Faithists with kings and queens and everyone else abandoning their former lives and living as poor humble people. In the least realistic part of the book when they preach the word of the Oahspe, the lawyers give up their callings and declare that they have never done anything good in their lives. And as someone who comes from a family of lawyers and knows many lawyers, that is never gonna happen.
That’s pretty much it. Their hippie commie paradise takes over the world.
We get a chapter on why Uz is doomed to fail, and then the Faithists become plentiful, Uz kind of dwindles away and boom! The end.
It’s kind of nice to have an apocalypse where the world ends because is good and righteous as opposed to having some sort of war or divine retribution. Narratively, it’s completely unsatisfying.
It just kind of peters out.
That’s the end of the Book of Shalam, but that’s not the end of the Book of Jehovih’s Kingdom on Earth. There’s a three chapter coda which is purportedly the records of the c’chiefs concerning the ascendancy of Shalam and the Faithists and the downfall of Uz, but it’s really a sort of jeremiad against the current state of the modern world, repeating things that have been throughout the text.
Most of chapters twenty-four and twenty-five are given over to explicitly calling out the faults of the modern world and withdrawing Jehovih’s protection from them. Though one wonders how much protection that was since he allowed the world to be taken over by evil spirits three thousand years in the past.
Specific things that the modern world is called out on: drunkenness and smoking and all manner of dissipation; letting others take blame for their own faults; allowing immoral activities to continue because the government profits off their taxes and license. The Faithists are coming for you, Pennsylvania State Lottery.
And the PA Liquor Board.
Jehovih reasserts his dominance and that he is the path to righteousness with a really awkward metaphor that makes no sense. “I made the way of life like going up a mountain; whoso turneth aside or goeth downward shall ultimately repent of his course, and he shall retrace his steps.” (24:42) I don’t know about you but usually one goes up a mountain and then back a down. It’s very rare that I go down a mountain and then back up.
It’s an interesting metaphor. You know, if you have a destination and you go away from it you’re just going to have to go toward that destination again. One questions whether you’re actually intending to go up the mountain to begin with.
The Uzians will be judged for their crimes; in chapter twenty-five we actually get another reference to Satan: “And now behold what hath been! The prince of devils came upon the Uzians, saying: I come not to send peace, but a sword. I come to set man at variance against his father, and a daughter against her mother.” (25:11-14) Now, does that sound familiar to you at all, Rob?
I think so.
That is because it is a paraphrase of Matthew 10:34-36. Those are words spoken by Jesus in canon Bible. So we’re really leaning into the whole Kriste’yans are led by devils thing.
Chapter twenty-five verses nineteen and twenty call for the Faithists to separate from the world and society, and the final chapter call for all the unfaithful to vanish from the face of the earth.
“Thus Jehovih’s kingdom swallowed up all things in victory; his dominion was over all, and all people dwelt in peace and liberty.” (26:24)
Rob, any final thoughts?
Yeah. This is a real dense piece of writing in which a lot happens but not a lot is terribly interesting outside the first couple of chapters.
Now, I don’t think we’ve discussed which book we’re going to read next time.
No we haven’t.
That’s because we’re not doing another one of these folks. This is a one-off. Enjoy it while it lasts. Rob, do you have anything you want to promote? Where can people find you online?
I don’t actually have anything I want to promote at this time. You know what? There’s this interesting podcast I’m going to be on. I should promote that.
Let people search that out themselves.
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