Church Surch, Week 12, Amana Church Society
Okay, I stuck out like a zebra at a Dalmatian convention. Every man wore a tie, suit jacket, slacks and dress shoes. Ol' Kevin made his appearance with faded blue jeans, tennis shoes and a badly wrinkled shirt.
The Amana Church Society may be more traditional than any church I've attended. The men meet in the South side of the building in the vestibule and hang there until the service starts. There I met Bill and we started with the strangest and most uncomfortable handshake I've ever experienced. Have you ever shook hands with someone and released because it's about time and they don't? We did that three times, and on the fourth, he relaxed his grip when I didn't. At last we both released and I talked with him and another man about my travels. We engaged in a lively conversation (although not too loud.) At precisely ten, we entered the church. The women had already entered and sat on the opposite side of the church.
The building is sparse, with no adornments on the walls, plain wooden benches and simple windows with pull shades. Our focus is to be on God, not that other stuff. Or the weird guy dressed in the old jeans. I like modern music. The first song (fourteen stanzas) was from the 1700s, and translated from German. Because of the translation, the sentence structure is erratic. And I haven't used the word 'whilst' in a very long time.
We sang each stanza, then on verse seven one person read it, then another read eight and so on.
Okay, then we knelt to pray. I love this. God is God and we are not, so we show our humility by kneeling. These days kneeling is getting out of vogue for some reason, probably because it makes people uncomfortable, or we think God is our buddy. I understand God as my friend and confidante, but another aspect of Him is King of Kings and on your knees.
The Elder read the scripture, and surprise, she was a woman. I'm not against women leaders in the church, but with a church this old and traditional, it surprised me. She wore a black cap, shawl and apron. After a few verses, others took over, apparently planned in advance.
This could have been a wake, as quiet as this church sounded. Everyone keeps their eyes to themselves (except darting them to the freak once in awhile), and there is no emotion, no banter, no music. All the singing is a cappella.
The Amana church began in Germany in the late 1700s and split off from the Lutherans, as the leaders felt the church was losing its way. Isn't that what Martin Luther did to the Catholic Church? Interesting. The church persecuted them until the 1800s when they packed up and went to America. They settled outside Buffalo, New York to live a simple life off the land. But the land, too expensive and too citified, caused them to sell it off and move to Iowa. They settled here and built seven villages.
The church and community worked in a commune, where everyone worked for the common good. The pilgrims did this too when they came to America and both groups dropped it. In Amana, after three generations, a Depression and a major fire, the community decided to abandon their communal ways and formed a corporation. That took time and a lot of struggle for the people. However, they needed to incorporate or evaporate.
The villages and church still function in a simple manner, yet I heard the Elder mention iPods and everyone drives, so they aren't as austere as the Amish. What an interesting place to visit. Does it look attractive to me? Would I like to live there?
Not a chance.
We packed up the Honda RV and headed to Amana to shop. Most shops sold the same crap we could buy anywhere else. Some had authentic Amana crafts and the quilt shop, QG (okay, me too) gave it two thumbs up.
We enjoyed a fine lunch of wiener schnitzel and turkey rueben sandwich, very
German and delicious. The old German restaurants kept a fifteen minute limit on lunch.
The Amana Village turned out better than I imagined, and we shopped a bit more. At the parking lot, we met Marcos and Eleonora from Turin, Italy. (You know, the Winter Olympics and the Shroud?) They are touring the US for their fourteenth time, and are on a six week tour of the Midwest, seeing what they've missed before.
After baking in the sun, we fired up the scoot and headed to Cedar Rapids in 100 degree heat. Between the shopping and the ride, we were cooked by CR, got a room at (PP!) Super 8 and cranked up the air.
And yes, Amana was responsible for (PP!) Amana refrigerators, (PP!) Amana
microwaves, and such. You did recognize the word.