Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Happy Time in New Harmony

There is nothing more fun in the world than a weekend spent with a sister.  Or at least, a weekend spent with MY sister!

Despite United's unexplained cancellation of Cheryl's original flight, due to arrive at the Indianapolis airport at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, we crammed a huge amount of wonderfulness into the time remaining, once she arrived instead close to 2:00 p.m. We jumped into my trusty little car and began driving west to Terre Haute, then south to New Harmony. 

New Harmony is the historic site of not one but two utopian communities: first the German Pietist sect of Millennialists led by George Rapp, who cleared farmland from the forests on the banks of the Wabash River as they awaited the Second Coming of Christ in 1815.  When Christ did not come as promptly as expected, they then sold their colony of Harmony to socialist reformer Robert Owen of Wales, who created New Harmony in 1825, organized around principles of equality, cooperation, and education for all.  That community, too, failed to prosper.

I have always had a fascination with utopian experiments from the time I first heard of Thomas More's famous formulation of Utopia back when I was in high school.  When I had to compile a major bibliography on any topic of my choice back when I was in library school at the University of Maryland, I chose the topic of American utopian communities.  When I taught Philosophy through Literature two years ago at CU, I structured the course around the concept of utopia.  And when Cheryl and I were children together, we spent endless hours inventing imaginary societies in imaginary countries, with names like Bladen, Soccer, Maloone, and Moo.  These weren't particularly utopian in their design - we focused more on every detail of the boarding school attended by their princes and princesses - but this did demonstrate some impulse toward utopian aspiration, I'd say.

So it was bliss to walk the streets of New Harmony with Cheryl, on an early Sabbath morning.


  1. Claudia, can I just tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog? Just his morning-- and I'm talking 6:00 AM, my husband, son and I had a discussion about utopian societies after I read your post. You write so interestingly and delightfully and honestly-- I love that. Thank you!

  2. Happiness
    comes to them who opens their door for small treats that life provides to them. So be happy and live longer!