So often there's a canyon between the flogging of goods and the peaceable way that would be good to live. And even the more tasteful of U. S. catalogue peddlers can show what is either ignorance or some lack of harmony with their subject.... I was amused to look at a catalogue of Shaker reproductions and gifts for Christmas. It comes from a perfectly fine company run by people who are careful with their replicas of Shaker furnishings; my husband put together a kit of one of their Elder Chairs for my father in his illness, and we have a child's rocker he made for one of the children. Shaker design was a wondrous thing, and I suppose sometimes it is hard to remember--now that the Shakers are mostly objects and history--that they were about far more than furniture.
But what can one possibly make of the peddling of this family motto, declaring: Our Family is a circle of strength and love. With every birth and every union, the circle grows. Etc. Do they forget for a long and potentially lucrative moment who and what the Shakers were? How they saw the world? Family motto? Do they not know why the Shakers died out, aside from a few stray members? No births! No unions!
The elaborate cut paper with fleur de lis and the sentiments remind me of a Shaker dictum. "If it is useful and necessary, free yourself from imagining that you need to enhance it by adding what is not an integral part of its usefulness or necessity."
For which, Nathaniel Hawthorne excoriated them in journal and story, by the by. He was repulsed by life at Hancock Shaker Village when he and Melville visited there. It would be hard to imagine that such a lover of solitude and retirement could adopt the idea of dormitories and shared work and meals, even though he was once a part of a utopian project (lucky for us, as we have The Blithedale Romance.)
|Nothing says "Shaker" like an adorable Mouse Nativity.|
Right, that's certainly in the Shaker worldview!
Though they did love Christmas and children and toys...