Cost-cutters have long found ways to shrink the product to meet rising costs or boost the profit. As was said years ago, “It’s getting hard to find a nickel candy bar for a quarter anymore.” I hate to think what it costs now, much less in a vending machine.
Newspaper pages are no exception. The first jolt to tradition came back in the mid 1970s when there was a newsprint shortage. The Canadian suppliers, for whatever reason – a labor strike? – just didn’t have enough to meet demand. One solution was to narrow the width of the page.
In recent years, as the Internet has disrupted the business model of the news industry, the pace of cost-cutting has quickened.
The ones around here are now 11 inches wide, versus 15½ when I started in the business or one paper where I worked where the page was nearly 18 inches wide.
In other words, today’s broadsheet is as wide as a tabloid was back then, only longer. It’s lost two columns of news on each page – or a quarter of its surface. It’s so skinny I wince.
We never had enough room to print everything we wanted as it was.
Thanks to Cassia’s father in my novel What’s Left, she’s familiar with Buddhist teaching and practice.
Here are ten basics.
- Siddhartha Gautama: Historical figure who established the teachings in northern India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. Often referred to as the Buddha.
- Buddhas: Transcendent figures found throughout the universe. Gautama embodies one of them.
- Dharma: The law or the way taught by Gautama to overcome suffering or dukka (perhaps better rendered as stress or dissatisfaction). One translation has Dharma as the process itself.
- Reincarnation: The state of one’s next rebirth is determined by the fruits of an individual’s karma (actions) in the present life.
- Nirvana: An eternal state of perfect peace, bliss, and enlightenment, usually achieved through meditation and breaking the chain of further rebirth.
- Boddhisattvas: Figures who have attained nirvana but instead of going their immediately, compassionately reincarnate to assist others.
- Sutras: The scriptures (literally “stitchings”).
- Three major branches of Buddhism: Theravada, prominent in Indochina; Mahayana, the largest and most liberal branch; and Vajrayana, which emphasizes the magical and the occult.
- Tantra: Sacred texts in the Vajrayana branch describing secret methodologies and practices.
- Mandalas and tankas: Vajrayana visual images to aid meditation.
Gee, I didn’t even get to koans, those mind-boggling puzzles presented to Zen aspirants.
While monasteries with wider church support are a longstanding institution in Christian history, independent, self-sustaining faith-based communes have made their mark in America. Unlike a monastery, not all of them were celibate.
Here are ten.
- Ephrata Cloister. Pennsylvania, 1732-2008. Founded by Johann Conrad Beissel, the pietist group broke off from the German Baptist Brethren (or Dunker) denomination, which largely continues as today’s Church of the Brethren. It had the second printing press in the American colonies. Its celibate emphasis was gradually eliminated.
- Moravians. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1741), and Salem, North Carolina (1753). The denomination dates to Jan Hus (1369-1415), a Czech reformer years before Luther and Calvin led the Protestant Reformation. The American communities initially had common ownership of all property by the church, supervised housing for single men and single women, and likely other communal aspects.
- The Shakers. Founded by Mother Ann Lee, it settled in Watervliet, New York, 1774, and spread from Maine to Indiana and Kentucky. Best known of the communal movements, in part for its beautiful furniture and architecture. One village remains.
- Hebus Valley. Pennsylvania. Founded by George Rapp, 1824-1906. Christian theosophists and pietists.
- Hopedale Community. Massachusetts, Adin Ballou, 1842-1856. “Practical Christianity” with a Universalist base. Utopian ideals included temperance, abolitionism, women’s rights, and spiritualism. Attempted to be part of the surrounding community.
- Amana Colonies. Originated in Germany in 1714 and arrived in Iowa, 1855. Communal system ended in 1932.
- Bruderhof. An Anabaptist denomination arising from the Hutterites in Germany in 1920, it has communities in Paraguay, Europe, Australia, and the United States (from 1954). Its beliefs are similar to Mennonites – peace, simplicity, adult baptism, and so on. There are currently 17 communities in the U.S.
- Hare Krishnas. The best known of the ISKON (Krishna Consciousness) communities is New Vrindaban, West Virginia, settled in 1968.
- Friends Southwest House. McNeal, Arizona, opened in 1976. I didn’t even know of this Quaker community, much less of its long life.
- Eighteenth Avenue Peace House. Portland, Oregon, opened in 1986. Ecumenical Christian.
Any you’d add to the list?
Top Ten, Religion, Spirituality, History, Inspiration,
Talk of pooling income and possessions thrived in the hippie era, though it rarely took form in practice – and, when it did, the results were often disastrous.
More common was the kind of shared rent arrangement like the farm I describe in my novel Pit-a-Pat High Jinks.
Here are ten from American history. Utopian socialism was a common theme.
- New Harmony, Indiana. Robert Owen, 1825-1829.
- Oberlin Colony. Ohio, 1833-1843.
- Fourier Society. Based on the ideas of French philosopher Charles Fourier, communes existed in New Jersey, 1841-1858; New York state, 1844-1846; Wisconsin, 1844-1850; Ohio, 1844-1845.
- The Transcendentalists. Brook Farm, George and Sophia Ripley, 1841-1846, and Fruitlands, Amos Alcott, 1843-1844, both in Massachusetts.
- Oneida Colony. John H. Noyes, New York state, 1848-1880. The first of a series of communes with radical ideas about free love and open marriage. (I love the name of one of those in Ohio, 1854-1858: Free Lovers at Davis House.)
- Icarians. Followers of French philosopher Etienne Cabet established communes in Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and California, 1848-1898.
- Home, Washington. 1895-1919, based on an anarchist philosophy.
- Twin Oaks. Virginia, 1967 to the present.
- The Farm. Stephen Gaskin, Lewis County, Tennessee, 1971 to the present.
- East Wind Community. Ozark County, Missouri, 1973 to the present.
Any you’d add to the list?
The more she learns about her great-grandmother in my novel What’s Left, the more reason Cassia has to be curious about her roots.
- Romani or Roma: The preferred terms for “Gypsies.” They are ethnically and genealogically different from other Europeans. They originated in northern India and migrated about 1,500 years ago as a group.
- Roma subgroups differ in language and variations of customs: These hold social distance from each other.
- They are a dispersed population: They have significant concentrations in Egypt, Turkey, Romania, southern France, Spain, and Hungary.
- Population in U.S.: Estimated at one million. Largely centered in southern California, the Pacific Northwest, Texas, and the Northeast./
- Population in Greece: Between 200,000 and 300,000.
- Population in Brazil: 800,000.
- Roma slaves: They were shipped with Columbus in 1492. Spain sent Romani slaves to Louisiana, 1762-1800.
- Romania: Abolished Roma slavery in 1864.
- Marriage: Couples generally wed within their tribe. The parents of the boy customarily select his bride, and a bride price would be paid to compensate her father for his loss.
- Community: When a Roma male marries a non-Roma, she may in time be accepted by the community, if she accepts their way of life. For a Roma female to marry a gaje, however, is a serious violation of marime or marimhe code originating in Hindu purity laws.
I’m so happy to hear that the New Yorker’s perceptive classical music critic, Alex Ross, is about twenty years younger than me.
There’s so much young talent to champion. And some exciting new sounds, too.
Now, more than ever.
Returning that matter of bohemian identity, here are ten more options.
- Peace activist.
- Organic gardener.
- Civil rights activist.
- New England contradancer.
- Sanctuary volunteer.
What more would you suggest for the list?