The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce varieties and uncompromising divergences of men. The reason is obvious. In a large community, we can choose our companions.In a small community, our companions are chosen for us.
G. K. Chesterton ~ Heretics
There was no gradual easing into my new life, no period of adjustment. The Patriarch left me to the ministration of the women who made it plain that “this is the way, walk ye in it.”
Note to self: Everybody has a plan for your life.
Rule #1: There is no dating among the singles.
The single women lived in the upstairs bedrooms in the main house; the single men lived in an apartment above the garage, and never the twain did meet. The married couples had their own rooms – usually just a bed sheet strung across a rope. There was no courtship. If a guy and a girl wanted to be married, they got married – hopefully to each other. There were no forced or arranged marriages, although I heard that the Patriarch made Tara marry the Stork because (a) she was beautiful and hot and (b) she was a flirt which (c) was driving the single men bonkers so the Patriarch put his foot down. By the time I arrived, Tara seemed to like Stork.
Rule #2: There is a dress code.
The women – the sisters – all wore long dresses and head coverings; the men – the brothers – wore beards and kept their hair short. A few of the brothers wore robes in honor of the movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon. The women were supposed to let their hair grow long because Paul wrote that long hair is a covering for women. Men, on the other hand, were supposed to keep their hair short and their head uncovered because “they were the image and glory of God.” (I Cor. 11:7)
For a time there was an issue among the sisters about braiding their hair because Paul wrote, “let the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing.” (I Tim. 2:9)
We were hippies, so we did not have fine clothes or jewelry, but we did wear our hair in braids. Some of the sisters were worried that they were bring worldly and unspiritual in their braids. The Matriarch talked to the Patriarch about it, and he addressed the issue at one of the meetings. He said that there were different types of braided hair—the fancy, Roman, worldly kind and the Christian, hippie, commune kind. Ours was the latter.
Note to self: I wasn’t all that fussed about it having seen “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” where the women wore their hair in braids. Jesus was okay with it.
Rule #3: Everybody works.
The women took care of the children and the house, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc., and the men worked for money as day laborers, field workers, handy men, painters, etc. There was an auto shop in the garage that did auto repairs and painting.
If a person did not work, he or she did not eat. The Patriarch figured that if someone was too sick to work, they were too sick to eat. People who were fasting were not suppose to “exact their labors”, but they did anyway. The fasters mostly laid around snapping at people passing by, like Old Yeller in the corncrib.
There was a brief interval when the Work Rule conflicted with the Doctrine to “labor not for the meet with perisheth.” (John 6:27) The brothers decided it was unspiritual of them to work for wages instead of trusting God to supply our needs. They felt the kingdom of heaven was better served by their spending their days reading scripture, praying, and having holy conversations with one another. (Note: I noticed that this did not involve fasting because the men always made it to every meal.)
The Labor Not movement did not last very long because (1) God did not miraculously provide food, and (2) we were getting very hungry, and (3) the women noticed that they were still laboring. They said wasn’t fair, so the Everybody Works rule was reinstated.
As Mary Woolstonecraft wrote, “Complicated rules to adjust behavior are a weak substitute for simple principles.”
The think about these rules is they were secondary to the primary, over-arching, unspoken, yet unshakeable rule: There is an In Crowd. I learned very quickly who were the popular kids and who were the losers. Like belly buttons, there were “innies” and “outies” – just like high school. Everything was fraught with Heavenly Meaning, Spiritual Types, and Holy Drama. You can’t squeeze sixty people into three small houses without some face fights.
Note to self: If by chance you stumble into an emotional minefield without a map, tiptoe as fast as you can outta there.