Quotes from Work and Worship Amoung the Shakers

by Edward Andrews and Faith Andrews

     The world's mores and morals, they held, were frequently based on selfish materialism, a desire, on the part of individuals or praties, to get ahead at any cost. Their own proclaimed purpose was to set an example of how men and women, in a voluntary association, should work and worship, in peace, humility, order and brotherhood.
           - p 7

     work was a ritual, a calling, a form of worship.
          - p 7

     Go home and set out apple trees, and raise calves, and make provisions as though you were to live a thousand years, and gather something to do good with.
          - p20

     It was a form of people's capitalism, as Emerson noted, in which the capitalist never dies and in which every adherent had a stake, economic as well as religous.
           - p 45

     What made the Shake agriculture distinctive was its diversity, the neatness of the tillage, the experimental attitude toward farming methods, the democratic manner in which labor was allocated, and the spirit pervading all farm operations.
           - p 48

     Yet the profit motive remained subservient to good work, the desire not to compete but to excel. "When a Shaker is put upon the soil, to beautify it by his tilth, the difference between his husbandry and that of a Gentile farmer, who is thinking solely of his profits, is likely to be great. While the Gentile is watching for his returns, the Shaker is intent upon his service."
          - p 53

     The earth has generously repaid man for this toil--nature gives abundantly to those who ask aright--to ask aright we must ask in the Language of Science the only language she can understand--we must first know her laws before we can obey them--and we can never know these laws except by deep study and constant application.
          - p 72

     Variety in harmony is the desideratum.
          - p 75

     A good society, they held, was not an impoverished society. They believed in obedience and chastity, but never took vows of poverty. The criterion was use.
          - p 84

     We see from 400 to 600 Men and Women living together in a community, with better physical circumstances surrounding them, and more wealth to each Individual (if divided) than any other 400 Men and Women who have to work from ten to twelve hours per day, in the outer World. We see such arrangements practically carried out every day, as provide each Member of the Community, with an abundance of all the necessities of life, and these necessities superior in quality to what is obtained by the great mass of people who work for their living in old Society.
           - p 194-5

     They have the best crops, the best wines, the best provision for the table, the best medicines, furniture, house-linen, roads, fences, and habitations in the country, with an enormously increasing amount of wealth, and very moderate labour ...           - p 198

     The Believers, as practical idealists, carried on with zeal and, for a surprisingly long time, made a Utopian commonwealth of peace, equality, and prosperity a reality.
           - p 201

     I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of true religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will ... love of the world in all its branches.
           - p 210

[note: page numbers from the Dover Publications edition first published in 1982]

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 71