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The Adepts Of The Sun Of Suns

Nearly all Communistic theories when applied in practice prove
failures, but there seems to be one infallible safeguard--that supplied
by religion. Faith, when mingled with the trials and disenchantments
of life, appears to mitigate them, and communal experiments based on
religious beliefs nearly always prosper. This applies to the
half-religious, half-communal sects of modern Russia, and the principle
has also been adopted by the American apostles of communism.

One of these, Dr. Teed of Chicago, understood it well, and his sect
was, in fact, merely a religious sect based on the principle of
communal possessions. Its adherents took the name of _Koreshans_,
after the title _Koresh_ (or the sun) boasted by its founder. He,
_Koresh_, "Light of Lights," "Sun of Suns," was called by Heaven to
teach the truth to mortals, and to show them which road to eternal
salvation they should follow in order to prosper upon earth. Founded
in Chicago, the sect moved recently to Florida, and there, from day to
day, Teed had the satisfaction of seeing the number of believers
steadily increase.

He had at first to put up with a good deal of ridicule, for his
teaching, based upon that of Fourier, and incorporating some of the
mystical ideas of Swedenborg, was not at all to the taste of his
fellow-citizens. The doctor then evolved the brilliant idea of
dividing his system into two doctrines--the way to heaven, or the
mystical doctrine; and the way to earthly prosperity, or the economic
doctrine. It was permissible to follow the second without adopting the
first, and the result may easily be guessed. Attracted by the prospect
of terrestrial benefits, believers flocked to the fold, and invariably
ended by accepting the second half of the teaching also (the mystical
doctrine), all the more willingly because their material happiness and
prosperity depended on the degree of their "union" with the founder.

The mysticism of _Koresh_ had some novel features, for the American
doctor saw the wisdom of making use of some of the prestige lately
gained by science. His religion, consequently, was essentially
scientific. He, _Koresh_, was the "unique man," who, thanks to his
"scientific studies" and to "celestial inspiration," could understand
the mysteries of nature. He had reached the summit of scientific
knowledge and the greatest possible human perfection--that is to say,
"sainthood"--and all who approached him were made participators in his
"holiness." Thanks to this gift, pertaining only to _Koresh_, his
followers could "enjoy the bliss of heaven upon earth"; for the Kingdom
of God upon earth was near at hand, and _Koreshism_ was preparing the
way for its disciples.

But what had to be done in order to attain the higher degrees of
salvation? Teed was a sufficiently clever psychologist to know that
nothing fascinates the crowd so much as mysteries and things that
cannot be understood, and he acted accordingly.

His doctrine is so obscure that only those claiming divine illumination
could hope to find their way amid its cloudy precepts. Let us give an

"In recognition of the principal source of the force of the intrinsic
and innate life of the Christian revelation, the _Koreshan_ doctrine
elevates the founder of Christianity to the place of father, become
perfect, thanks to the sacrifice of his son, which it has been given to
us to understand by the flesh of Jehovah."

The believers could give it whatever meaning they liked, and for those
who despaired of understanding this part of the _Koreshan_ revelation,
the prophet kept in reserve thousands of other dogmas, all equally
enigmatic and equally obscure. We will not attempt to discuss them!

The teaching included the attainment of perfection through marriage,
and claimed omniscience for _Koreshism_, which could throw new light
upon all things, including such subjects as astronomy and philosophy.
The earth is not round, light is not diffused, as science teaches, and
man has not five senses, but seven--so said _Koresh_. He described his
doctrine as communistic and co-operative. The use of money was
forbidden, its place being taken by cheques representing the amount of
services rendered to the community.

The colony founded at Estero, in Florida, was almost exclusively
commercial and industrial, not agricultural like most communal
settlements. Electric railways and factories were built--and are still
being built--there, for steam, like money, is banned in the colony of
_Koresh_; while being in possession of a seaport, the _Koreshans_
propose to enter into commercial relationship with the whole world.

The Bureau of Equitable Commerce directs the business affairs of the
community, and at its head is the chief of the Commonwealth (or public
fortune). All the inhabitants share in the general prosperity, and in
order to prevent the more capable individuals from developing into
capitalists, the fortunes of all are carefully equalised by means of a
progressive tax upon income. The land belongs to all, and is
non-transferable, like the factories. No payment is demanded of
new-comers; it is enough if they bring the moral capital of an
irreproachable life, and are good workers; and any poor people who
desire to seek salvation in the colony are enabled to travel to it by
contributions from the public funds. Absolute tolerance of all beliefs
forms the spiritual basis of the sect.

New Jerusalem, the capital of the colony, covers about eighty-six
square miles, having streets four hundred feet in width, and separate
industrial quarters. The business affairs of the community are
undeniably prosperous.

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Previous: The Religion Of Business

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