Interesting story in todays New York Times that gives some insight into the religious soup of the 1800s that Watchtower arose from.

by Balaamsass2 5 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Balaamsass2

    Todays NYT. Fascinating read and background of New York state in the 1800s. "

    This Community Welcomes Mediums, but First You Have to Prove Yourself

    A lawsuit against the nonprofit that runs Lily Dale, a New York haven for Spiritualists, has put a spotlight on the hamlet where residents believe death does not exist." 3rd Gens family (College-educated school teachers) joined the Bible Students around 1900 after buying "Studies in the Scriptures" from a "Coal Porter". My grandparents joined in the 1930s and were former spirit mediums. If you have ever read Paster Russel's "Studies in the Scriptures", the Egyptology, and numerology stuff is pretty far out there, and I always wondered about the popular culture of the time that made this attractive to people. An uncle who served at Bethel in the 1930s told me some crazy stuff and beliefs gleaned from the Apocrypha at the time, especially regarding demonology.


  • Dagney

    I didn’t think of that. But it was all happening at the same time. Makes sense…always looking for the special revelation of future and past.

    I saw the below film a few years ago

    HBO Documentary Films: No One Dies in Lily Dale Trailer (HBO) - YouTube

  • jhine


    Jan from Tam

  • raymond frantz
    raymond frantz

    There is nothing in this article about Russell or Bible Students, can you please elaborate on the connection? Very interesting

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    @ray as far as I can see the only connection is that the same geographic region also kickstarted Mormonism and Millerism, Miller’s Great Disappointment being the influence for Russell and his swindle operation and the calculations of 1914. To that effect, many of the calculations both Miller and Russell and others used to calculate the end of the world have their roots or at least carry great resemblance to certain beliefs within the Spiritism movements. The idea within Mormonism of many levels of hell and heaven likely comes from Mesmer (a Spiritist). So they all kind of influenced each other.

  • dropoffyourkeylee

    An interesting article, thanks for posting the link.

    I wasn't aware of Lily Dale NY. Undoubtedly that area of NY state (collectively called the Burned-Over area because of the frequent revivals in the 1800's) was the source of some of the more fringe-religions based loosely on Christian faiths, but with a twist. Russellism (early ties to Rochester NY area), Mormons (Palmyra NY area), others as well, had early influences in the region. The Erie Canal brought population and wealth to the area, and with it a lot of pseudo-religious ideas. One of Russell's early mentors (later an opponent), from whom he picked up the calculation of time prophecies, was from that area of NY and printed his magazine from Rochester NY.

    People back then, without TV, Radio, sound amplification, etc, gathered in smaller groups and venues to listen to lectures, music, things that interested them. The Chatauqua Movement, though more of a social movement rather than religious, originated in the same burned-over district (still in existence). Some of the early Bible Student conventions were held at Chatauqua Lake NY.

    Russell was always greatly opposed to Spiritualism, calling it out to be demonism rather than contact with dead spirits. This was a natural conclusion based on his belief in soul sleep.

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