Comments from Mormons, Jehoviah's Witness, etc. Needed

(francisco) #1


I am starting a “Utopian” Community based on a combination of what works from the Hutterites Religious community and University Fraternities. The Hutterities know how to make community living work for both men and women, and the Fraternities know how to put together new communities that stick together from a bunch of strangers.

So my question to those of you with a religious background of any type is simply this:

What does your religion say or do to make it stick together? I want to know what are the practical “keeper memes” that keep people together.


(Mandy Szostek) #2

I thought that the whole idea of Feralculture was an independent but shared anarchy. The jehovah’s Witnesses are a very conformist highly self-policed group: even a rumor of a member not THINKING along the proper lines gets one dragged into the back room to get reprimanded by the Elders. If that’s the kind of Utopia you want why not just join them? //to me, feralculture is so beyond and removed from the thought-control of those religious groups. Also, the JW’s do not believe in any kind of “unknown,” or mystery in the world, and so this attitude collapses all impulse to freedoom and creative art. They are certain that they know the literal answers to everything from their interpretation of the bible. Once again, entirely a worldview away from anarchic feralculture.

(francisco) #3

Hi Mandy,

Thank you for posting your thoughts. I know very little about the Jehovah’s Witnesses other than that they have a long history and that they are growing.

I agree with you that we can do much better than any existing religion, but it’s worth noting that some religious groups have a long history of staying together, while intentional communities usually splinter in a few years. So there may some specific elements worth copying even while I agree that the overall framework is something that I am not looking for.

You seem to be knowledgable about Jehovah’s Witnesses. Are there any things that Jehovah’s Witnesses do that you think are worthy of copying?

I’m cheerfully willing to copy the one thing that I think is really good from anyone, whether I like them or their church or not.

(Mandy Szostek) #4

Yes, my cousin is a Jehovah’s Witness, so i went to meetings and got involved. They seem friendly and congenial at first, but once i began to become a part of the group, i noticed very quickly something was wrong. Basically they are held together by mutually enforced conformity, at the expense of any freedom of spirit or mind. They believe that God is going to have them “live forever on a paradise on earth” and anyone who isnt down with the program will be destroyed. (by God) //what is goodabout it? nothing. it was truly hideous. — if you want ppl to stick together, they may be attracted to the place itself- the wilderness…and- the freedom of the space, the non-incringement of others. ( i dont think thats a real word---- but the non- invasiveness of others… will be its own attractor) besides, its good if some stay and some go, i think. The religious models carry with them an insidious form of thought control. thats why people are trying to rewild, i.e. escape from society. or, that is what i perceive, anyway.


I’ve lived with some Mormons for a bit and Mandy nailed it. They seem great at first, until you express any kind of creativity, sexuality, dissent, then they either attempt to force you to change, or they disassociate with you.

I’ve been studying intentional communities for years and the only groups that I’ve found that are really sustainable are nomadic, individually independent but community oriented, and practice gift economy. Every tribe, civilization, and intentional community I’ve studied that’s not nomadic can be semi stable, or free, but not both. As long as property, agriculture, hierarchy, money, or sedentary living are part of the plan, either some rules and ruling body are necessary, which usually gets corrupted, or there will be constant conflicts.

There’s no such thing on this planet as Utopia but the closest thing to it is the minimalist, survivalist, hunter/gatherer/scavenger model.

If I ever secure property in AZ, it will be a base camp only, where feral humans can come, stay for up to two weeks at a time (this gets around camping on private property rules :wink:) process game, can food, use internet, charge devices, rest, socialize, and maybe store some supplies. I’m trying to figure out ways to not involve money after the land and supply purchases other than tiny donations for taxes and maintenance. We (feral humans) need these little base camps everywhere!

(francisco) #6

Thanks Ernesto and Mandy,

Perhaps we can agree that the friendly and congenial aspects of Mormonism or the Jehovah’s Witnesses are worthy of copying.

In my opinion, all the major modern religions (and most of the minor ones) are outgrowths of agriculture. For example the Lord’s Prayer from many Christian traditions includes the words, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Well that’s just not a hunter gatherer prayer!

God in heaven has been remarkably rare in the recorded instances of his giving out bread, but the king in most European castles sure could give you daily bread, and the European kings had a nasty habit of locking up all the grain that you grew and then only giving you back enough to survive on if you towed the line and did things the kings way.

Andrew’s biggest innovation in my way of thinking was clearly showing that at least some humans have a hard wired need to wander and that if you put nodes a 1 to 2 days hike apart, perhaps across national forest, then you would have something that is very psychologically satisfying.

I believe there are many more innovations like this waiting to be made in the understanding of human nature and some of these insights can come from religions, even if we wouldn’t choose to be a part of the religion overall.

Ernesto, is there any chance that you could add more about the nomadic communities that you know of that work?


Just search primitive hunter gatherer tribes. The aborigines in australia are a neat group to look at. I’m down to 7% battery and have terrible internet right now. Will post more later. For a project that’s targeted at nomads, this site is pretty bandwidth heavy.

(Mandy Szostek) #8

arizona… yeah… :slight_smile: i love that state so much

(Mandy Szostek) #9

i have a hard-wired need to wander. >that’s for certain. yes, of course being received by a group of frinedly people is awesome. you don’t have to be like jws or mormons at all, though. they come with a heavy requirement—like the friendliness only comes with a steep price. nobody really wants that- if anything, its horrifying. i’ve been to communities with that friendliness in general… i think this one would /or does have it already. ----the lord’s prayer- thats funny; yes, unless it’s manna dropping from the skies like in Exodus. is that Exodus where that happens? yeah, i need lots of cosmic help when i travel. i give off the openness of freedom, but i’m also vunerable and people come and give me food!!! so ha. some people think thats awful,like being a bum. i tried to explain this to my grandmother, who was skeptical. but i was like, people LOVE to see nomads out there kicking it, believe me- it makes their day to help, and to be a part of the life energy which travelling like that generates. it generates it for all onlookers. //yes, thenodes idea is brilliant. thats why im in awe and wantto be in person in future.

(Grant Schnebly) #10

Many cultures and religions have ceremonies, rites of passage. These can strengthen feelings of community.

(Don Vande Krol) #11

I was just thinking about this subject this morning. I agree that rituals and ceremonies are important bonding ingredients for intentional communities - especially those that reinforce the ethos that seems to be essential for sustaining a community - that of sharing and caring.

In religious communities, this is often displayed in intercessory prayer - sometimes most powerfully in the “laying on of hands”. Now, granted, I find the theology behind these rituals - based on the concept of an omnipotent god who intervenes as an outsider in the flow of events - to be not only incredulous, but supportive of pathological power structures. It DID provide a means of expressing concern, care, and compassion - something that I have not been able to express as effectively in secular environments. However, I suspect that the rituals could be emptied of their theological baggage - but not necessarily their spiritual value. By that I mean the idea that we are not bits of matter floating aimlessly in space (the obsolete story of obsolete physics), but that we live in a universe constituted by experiential events and relationships. Our ‘prayers’, rather than a form of begging, can be expressions of our feelings of connectedness and a sense that we share with one another and with the universe a ubiquitous “Spirit of Life.”

(francisco) #12

Thank you for your insightful comments. Rituals are essential for any group that wishes to be cohesive. This includes people who want to have families.

No rituals = no family. I haven’t found any exceptions to this. Military groups, medicals schools and fraternities all know how to do this effectively.

People who want to start intentional communities usually don’t. Intentional communities must have difficult initiations and effective rituals in order to stick together. Without it they will fail.

I agree, the spiritual or psychological goodness can be separated from the underlying theology.


Religious communities form initially as a codependent bond between often charismatic leadership and hungry followers looking for provision of direction and hope and release for their feelings of guilt and shame. Then those bonds are subsequently cemented through family and child-rearing. Churches and religious communities that last for multiple generations are usually just coasting off the accumulated momentum of the intertwined family units, but unless they find new charismatic leadership each generation they start to suffer internal crises. It doesn’t really matter what the ideology is, all cults follow the same format. I grew up in a religious community which could have been called a cult if it wasn’t Christian. For example, although the ideologies seem very different from the outside, the very same formats were at play with the creation and continuance of both the hippie utopian community the Source family, and the Christian religious community I was raised in. One is not considered a cult because it conforms to a mainstream religion, but the other one is considered a cult because it had a novel ideology created by its members.