Now that we are back home from New Harmony, Indiana, I have some thoughts about our trip. First of all, we had a great time. We love to go there for several reasons, including these:
- We have sweet memories of New Harmony, because, at 22 and 21, we were so very young the first time we visited.
- New Harmony just doesn’t change. Almost nothing seems different from our first trip nearly forty years ago. There is comfort in some things staying the same.
- God made New Harmony so beautiful.
- We love history, and New Harmony has been making history for 200 years.
However, New Harmony does have some idiosyncrasies (if a town can have idiosyncrasies). It started out as a Christian community–a very unusual Christian community, to be sure, but still, the Harmonists were devoted to Jesus Christ. Then it became a secular utopian community with philosophies based entirely on the thinking of people. The New Harmony of today includes a strange mixture of various types “spirituality” that tries to appeal to a broad range of religious philosophies.
I could give you many examples that illustrate this. Let me share three. We saw the Ten Commandments around the exterior of a chapel . . .
. . . and quotes from the New Testament in a framed picture outside our hotel room, but when I picked up a pretty book on the coffee table in the lobby, I found that it illustrated a Buddhist teaching. Ray and I learned during our first visit in 1975 that a visit to New Harmony takes a great deal of spiritual discernment.
I wanted to tell all of you about this aspect of New Harmony for three reasons.
- I wouldn’t want you to go there unaware and have your children confused.
- I certainly don’t want you to think that I agree with this kind of eclectic “spirituality.”
- It gives me an opportunity to say something I think about often (and may have even shared with you before).
I have long been disturbed by merchandise I see in catalogs and in stores. Let me give an example that I see at Christmastime. What does a wooden plaque that says, “Believe!” mean? Does it mean, “Believe in the Messiah Who came to save the world!” or “Believe in Santa!” or “Believe in yourself!”? You may have a plaque like that in your house. I’m not condemning you; I trust that you know exactly what you mean by it and that you can explain it to your children. I have plaques in my house, too. One says, “Faith-Hope-Love” and another says, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” (It really is a wonderful life, isn’t it?)
I have even seen advertisements for angel figures that purport to have power to protect the user in some way. I just don’t believe God works that way. He is not obligated to help me in some particular way because I bought a gold colored metal object in the shape of some artist’s conception of an angel–for crying out loud! I don’t believe that God wants us to use some object as a good luck charm and just shape it like an angel to give it Christian legitimacy.
I am disturbed, too, when I pass by a school and see character traits on the marquee. I am glad children are learning to be honest or to have integrity, but I know that they need Jesus to have the power to follow through on those wonderful traits that were God’s idea long before they were the ideas of man.
Putting words on a wall or an “angel” on our shoulder does not make us okay with God. Our faith and hope must be in the saving blood of Jesus Christ Whom Our Father God sent into the world.
Without Jesus, all of the fine-sounding words, slogans, and philosophies in the world won’t do us any lasting good.
See to it that no one takes you captive
through philosophy and empty deception,
according to the tradition of men,
according to the elementary principles of the world,
rather than according to Christ.