Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just Stuff - An essay of sorts

I suspect we’ll continue to find material long after this project is published. That’s true of our first book, and eventually we’ll revise it, adding the newly found material. Yesterday I found a series of letters from Storrs to a Methodist editor. I’ve sent them to Mr. Schulz and he’s decided we should incorporate a few paragraphs from them into our chapter three. Among other things Storrs explains his rejection of ecclesiastical authority in favor of personal responsibility. I also found a brief article in the October 18, 1844, Long-Islander. We’ll probably use a paragraph from that.

We need a volunteer to transcribe some hard to read copy into a Word document. Anyone?

The last chapter for volume one is progressing, though more slowly than we’d like. The base document is something Mr. Schulz wrote in the early 1990s for someone else’s book. They used almost none of it, but we will. We are adding additional material not available then.  I think our readers will be pleased with the details we provide concerning H. B. Rice and his place in this history. Acquiring a copy of his letter of resignation from the Disciples helped significantly. Dates matter, of course. The letter and an article from Restitution put matters in perspective.

We haven’t located any copies of his short-lived magazine, The Last Trump. If you have, do let us know.

We need a volunteer in the New York City area willing to visit Columbia University and make some photocopies. We can’t pay expenses. Our research budget is -0 because I’ve taken money from my household expenses to buy a book we needed and couldn’t get as an ebook. We have a donate button on the private blog. Not here though. We’d rather have the volunteer effort than the money in this case. Access to the material at Columbia requires a personal visit.

We also need a volunteer close to the Library of Congress. We need someone who can turn pages of a periodical looking for relevant comments. We’d have this microfilmed but it costs over three hundred dollars to do so, and we simply can’t spend the money. I have five daughters. Four of them are still growing. Putting shoes on their feet on a regular basis is more important than a microfilm. But we do need to consider this material.

Also in the Library of Congress are letters from a Liberian clergyman. Finding them requires a visit to the manuscript division and patiently turning pages.

We have a continuing need for any letters (no matter the date) written by Russell or any of his associates. Even if they appear insignificant, we’d like to see them. We own some of Sunderlin’s letters, but we know there are more out there. They were sold off by a relative some years ago, and those from the Civil War era sometimes show up. We own two. We’ve seen two others. Any letters, post cards or notes from the Russell era by anyone in the Bible Student movement would be useful.

We’re still seeking a photo of W. I. Mann. The closest we’ve come is a fuzzy photo of a group of men in a steel mill. It doesn’t work for us. We have a number of Paton’s photos. Two of B. W. Keith. We have one of H. B. Rice. One of Sunderlin. We have lots of photos, just not one of every important character. If you have a photo you think we might need, let me know. Remember that this book considers the years 1870-1887 with overlap on each side.

Someone commented on my “posting name.” Sha’el is a character from a novel of mine that was published back in 2007. I adopted the name then and never changed it. I don’t understand why it’s an issue. Do you?

We’re working on the outline for book three. Book three, as we see it now, will take us from the publication of Plan of the Ages to just past Russell’s death. We think this will be a much harder book to write. There are layers and layers of myth that coat this part of Watch Tower history – more, I think, than we had to deal with in the current project.

Some material will be hard to find. We need the Ross transcript. We have a few pages of it, sent to Mr. Schulz by someone torn between secrecy and sharing. (I won’t elaborate on that.) We need to see the entire transcript.

We will need the Russell v. Brooklyn Eagle transcript.

Personal letters will be much more important for book three. I have no clue where we will find them.

Our blog readers come from both sides of the aisle. We’re not here to support your pet theories. We want a clear, accurate narrative of events. We will tell the story as original sources reveal it, no matter where it goes. But we won’t force history into a pre-determined mold. It is important to note that just because someone claimed something was true does not mean it was. We have several examples of conflicting testimony. And we note that other writes have made a case for each side of some issues based on the testimony they prefer. We will face more of that sort of issue writing book three than we have with the current project. So there will be some behind the scenes debates with interested parties. I’m not sure if Mr. Schulz will open up the public blog for that. Last time we did that was a disaster, degenerating into name-calling and people questioning other’s motives.

I think Mr. Schulz was clear about our approach. (See the rough draft of his introductory essay posted here earlier.) We have not adopted the analytical-thesis approach of more contemporary historians. We’ve adopted the narrative approach such as that used by Francis Parkman in his lovely History of France in the New World. We can’t escape some analysis, but our purpose is to tell the story. No sound analysis can occur until an accurate story is told.

Someone was peeved that we criticize other writers. You know what? Many of them made things up. People believe what they fabricated. The content of what they’ve written deserves to be criticized. We have no apologies to make. A few of them are just nasty on a deeply personal basis. We will keep those comments out of the book. But Mr. Schulz was in the same school district as the writer of a well-known article. They debated the article as it was written. The author was a pedophile and went to prison. The same mental infection that led him to molest little girls led him to include points in that article that are false, manufactured out of thin though rather hot air. (More than one “historian” of the Watch Tower movement went to prison, and I think their mental and moral deficiencies coloured what they wrote.) More than one faked credentials and faked content. We won’t tell you about their personal issues, but we will point out their errors if they are important and seem to be widely believed. Do you really think we owe anyone an apology for doing that?

People read and cite the books and articles by these people. There should be some corrective. Believing that there should not be is based on the “don’t judge me” theory of modern behavior. Society does not function well when it operates on that theory.

One interesting observation that derives from writing the current project is that clergyman are often awful, nasty, obvious liars. But as Hercule Poirot observed, even lies tell the truth. So what they wrote – no matter how nasty or wrong it was – is still important to the story. …. Which takes me to another issue. …

We need the controversial booklets published before 1920. We have some. There’s a huge list of them we don’t have. If you have any, please email me. (email through blog profile)

That’s it for today.


1 comment:

roberto said...

"We need a volunteer to transcribe some hard to read copy into a Word document. Anyone?"

I am willing.