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Gathering At the Fire Fountain

Late in the summer of 1974 a group of young people from across the Midwest, and some who had come a further distance to join them, gathered at the capitol in  South Dakota. They came to share their belief in progressive revelation, unity, and the oneness of mankind; and to recruit new followers to a rapidly-growing religion which had been founded by a 19th-century holy man from Persia who taught that the purpose of life is to learn to know and love God through prayer, reflection, and service to humankind
 
Many parents and members of the community viewed this group as a cult, and feared that their young people would be drawn in and lured away from their fundamental Christian upbringing.  For those who saw themselves apart from mainstream religion and traditional social belief, the teachings of this faith offered a new way to look at things, a broader perspective than encompassed a One World philosophy and a new social order. 

Among those gathered was a young woman of twenty and her husband; she was pregnant with their first child. It was their common faith and membership in this group that had brought them together.  This  particular night stood out from other gatherings they had attended, as they circled the beautiful fire fountain located on the capitol grounds and sang the songs that bound them together in their beliefs, accompanied by the guitars of musicians among them. One song was perfectly befitting of this beautiful setting where devotion and the fervor of youth ran high...  
  
"...Angels, oh angels, angels of fire and snow...
Were it not for your tears, you would burn in the fire of your love,
Were it not for the fire, you would drown in your tears
Oh angels, oh angels, moth-like lovers of His light.
Behold the moth as it circles the candle,
It clings to the flame and dies.
Behold the candle as it gives light,
It weeps away its life drop by drop.
You fly, you weep, you die in your love.
You fly, you weep, you die in your love.
Were it not for your tears, you would burn in the fire of your love,
Were it not for the fire, you would drown in your tears..."

The young couple were to continue to hold membership in this organization for a few more years until the time came when they felt they could no longer ascribe to the teachings and  practices of the Faith. As with most doctrinal religions, choosing to separate yourself was said to be a certain path to self-destruction and distance from God. It was a difficult choice to turn and walk away, but I have never feared or regretted that decision.

Looking back from the distance and wisdom of years, it is hard to say where the greater evil dwells, with those who draw in sensitive young people to further their own cause, or with those who preach the gospels of fear and hatred for anything which is different from what they practice or believe, with little consideration for factual information.  But every now and then the verses from "Angels of Fire and Snow" play again in my head, and I smile in remembering a magical summer night at the fire fountain, long, long ago. 

Notes: Today members of this faith number more than five million, and their assemblies can be found in nearly every country in the world. The only reason I chose not to include the actual name of this religious group in my post is that their web-crawlers tend to seek out such posts and link to them.  I prefer that not happen again if possible.
 
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This post was written for Two Shoes eTuesday
where the prompt choices this week are laughter and fire...
Come and join us there!

17 comments:

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    1. Thank you Joseph. I might get around to doing that someday, but I'd hold it to be published posthumously - that way I wouldn't have to answer any questions, or have people staring at me strangely! :-)

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  2. I remember this, and many similar situations. And it still continues, in other ways and names.

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    1. A well written, but all too real piece. Unfortunately, the fire of evil in the world devours the fires within many youth, as you pointed out. I am glad you had the foresight and perhaps intuition to realize it was not quite what it seemed.

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    2. It was both an interesting and educational experience, Annie. It is so very easy for such groups to attract those who feel disenfranchised by mainstream religion, politics, etc. We also know that this is one step away from being drawn into participation in things far more sinister than this was. Still, fear is not the answer, fact-finding is! :-)

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  3. There is a little "cult" in every organization, some are more insidious than others.

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    1. You are absolutely right about that Joe.

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  4. That was delightful. I can relate to this post so very well. Hubby and I are very spiritual, but we don't do organized religion. Just don't need to watch all those dynamics.

    Have a terrific day honey. Big hugs. :)

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    1. I agree with you Sandee, your position as being spiritual but not part of organized religion applies to me as well... been there, done that.

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  5. beautiful post..well written and it obvious that you write from experience. It is interesting to me that religious people of a lot of faiths can claim that they follow and believe in love and peace...only as long as you walk the same rope as they do...it is scary that you would be leery to state you beliefs and feelings. However, I do understand not naming the group...it does no good to pour gas onto the fire..

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    1. Very true observation, GS, what various religions claim as their tenants, and how those beliefs are actually put into practice can be two very different things. I have studied and been a part of several different religions/denominations, I no longer choose to affiliate myself with any.

      I pretty much share everything about myself, my life and what I believe here on my blog. I am not concerned for myself in not naming this group, I think it's fairly easy to determine which one I'm speaking of. However, in the past they not only linked to a post that I had written regarding my membership, but also took the liberty of copying it and pasting it on one of their websites. I did not appreciate that, and it took several emails to have it removed. I hold no animosity, I simply do not want to be seen as affiliated in any manner, or have my name connected with it.

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  6. Religion is a very complicated subject. Faith only works with commitment. And so, unfortunately, the differences between faiths can bring about war and tragedy. In the far east there is greater patience and tolerance... This was a very nice story.

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    1. Thank you Shimon, I agree with your thoughts. Religion by it's very nature is filled with emotion and personal belief, and that does often invite conflict. I try to keep an open mind to all faiths and the manner in which they are expressed. Regardless of what religion we chose to adhere to, we still have individualized relationships with the Father/Creator, and I believe that we are born with the knowledge that we are not just flesh and bone, but also spirit.

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  7. Very interesting...I think a lot of us can relate to this.

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    1. Thank you Patricia, I agree, belief/faith/religion are issues most of us deal with and make decisions about at some point in our lives.

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  8. wowow! I've never been a person to "belong or join" and this further cements my belief - intersting post Josie- I am glad you chose to walk away!

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    1. I have learned over many years of trial and error, Kathe, that groups rarely fit my individual needs and I end up feeling constrained or misrepresented by what they promote. I cannot be part of something that I fundamentally disagree with, and whenever any group says "we are the only ones who have it right" I see warning lights flashing!

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)