The Faithists of New Mexico

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The Faithists of New Mexico

Post by Admin on Wed May 28, 2008 7:52 am

The Faithists of New Mexico
by Mike Smith

The life of Dr. John Ballou Newbrough was often impressive, often unique, and often strange — and at its strangest, it was in New Mexico.

Born in Ohio in 1828, Newbrough was a charismatic man with fiery red hair, an imposing 6’4” frame, deep and enigmatic eyes, and a commanding presence. In the course of his life, Newbrough became an East Coast doctor, dentist, inventor, and novelist, made two fortunes mining gold in California and Australia, travelled the world, married a girl from Scotland, and practiced medicine for decades in New York City.

Newbrough was also deeply immersed in the spiritualistic circles and seances so in vogue in the mid- to late-1800s, and in the spring of 1880, declared that angels had instructed him to create a new Bible.

“I had been commanded by the spirit voices to purchase a typewriter, a new invention which writes like the keys of a piano,” Newbrough wrote in the introduction to a later edition of the book he produced. “I applied myself to this invention with indifferent success. Then one morning lines of light rested on my hands, while behind me an angel stood with hands on my shoulders. My fingers played over the typewriter with lightning speed. I was forbidden to read what I had written and I obeyed. This same power visited me every morning. My hands kept on writing, writing for five weeks. The illustrations were made under the same control. Then I was told to publish the book which should be called Oahspe, a paneric word meaning Earth, Air, and Spirit.”

First published in 1882, Oahspe: A New Bible in the Words of Jehovih [sic] and his Angel Ambassadors, professed to be a true account of the entire history of humanity, covering approximately 78,000 years. The book incorporated and explored stories from the Bible, world history, Greek mythology, Buddhism, Confucianism, Mohammedanism, and — coincidentally — Newbrough’s own life. It was the first book to ever use the word “starship,” and perhaps the only book to suggest that the Star of Bethlehem said to have shone over Jesus’s birth was actually the Starship of Bethlehem.

One verse in Oahspe reads, “When the birth was completed, the angels of heaven re-entered their starship and hastened back to paradise.”

The book soon sold out its initial printings and attracted a small band of disciples who Newbrough called Faithists. It also attracted the interest (and fortune) of an affluent businessman named Andrew Howland.

In 1884, Newbrough convinced Howland that a spirit had revealed that the Faithists were to go west to establish a home for orphaned children — a place where all the Faithists could live together in peace. Newbrough had already — according to an anonymously authored 1906 account — determined that the group’s refuge would be in the Mesilla Valley of southern New Mexico, just a few miles north of Las Cruces, but told Howland to board a train westward with him, and that angels would instruct them further.

Newbrough and Howland soon arrived in New Mexico Territory, and Newbrough said he felt compelled to head south. In Las Cruces, Newbrough said he felt the need to exit the train. There, Newbrough asked to be blindfolded so that only inspiration would lead them to their goal. The pair rode into the desert in a buggy and, on the sandy banks of a bend of the Rio Grande, Newbrough removed his blindfold and declared what he saw to be the Land of Shalam — or Shalam Colony — the future home of the Faithists.

Allegedly the history of life on Earth and life in dimensions parallel to our own, Oahspe attracted an international group of followers who became known as Faithists. In October of 1884, 20 of these Faithists accompanied Newbrough to a quiet part of southern New Mexico Territory, just north of Las Cruces.

There, on a 930-acre swathe of creosote desert beside the Rio Grande, the group established Shalam Colony—a community with a name from Oahspe—with the goal of creating a place where orphaned children of all races could be raised as vegetarian pacifists, and where Faithist adults could explore their beliefs away from the eyes of the world.

Within only a few years, thanks in large part to the wealth of a Bostonian wool merchant named Andrew Howland, Shalam Colony had become a thriving place with extensive crops, numerous animals, imposing buildings, and a two-story studio in which Newbrough would paint religious imagery with both hands simultaneously, while entranced.

In 1886, Newbrough’s wife divorced him, reporting that she “objected violently” to his beliefs. In 1887, Newbrough married Frances Van de Water Sweet, one of the colony’s members.

“Those [Newbrough] and Howland collected about them were, for the most part, religious fanatics, adventurers or those afflicted with something strikingly akin to imbecility,” wrote one unnamed 1906 historian. The colony’s Faithists—numbering as many as 47 at one point—let their hair grow long, and walked around the desert in gowns and sandals. The colony’s orphans wore sleeveless, pajama-like outfits.

As early as 1885, however, trouble arose that suggested life at Shalam Colony might not always be all lazy days of lounging around in robes, leafing through Oahspe for details on Chief Litabakathrava or the mountain of Yublahahcolaesavaganawakka. That year, certain Faithists accused Newbrough of being a tyrant, and in 1886, over a mere six-month time span, 50 percent of Shalam’s members abandoned the colony. By 1887, the remaining colonists were divided by squabbling, and certain of the Faithists were allowed to found the nearby desert suburb of Levitica; by 1890, however, Levitica had been destroyed in a flood, and only about ten adults remained at the colony.

In 1891, Newbrough died from influenza, though his ghost was said to have stayed behind. In 1893, Newbrough’s second wife married Howland, to quiet certain sordid rumors, and for almost a decade, the Howlands struggled to keep the colony alive, pouring money into the colony’s fields and orphanage, until 1900, when Howland suddenly had no money left to pour. By that point, the colony had been weakened to the point of breaking—by East Coast urban Faithists who knew nothing of farming or irrigation, by frequent flooding and drought, and by tourists who fed the vegetarian orphans ham sandwiches. In 1901 the colony was officially disbanded, and the remaining children were sent to orphanages in Texas and Colorado.

The Howlands moved to El Paso, Texas, where Andrew Howland was said to have sold vegetarian snacks. One woman remembered him peddling a cookie called “U-Like-Ums,” made of honey and cornmeal.

The Faithists scattered across the West, founding short-lived colonies in at least three different states. Today, there are perhaps 1500 practicing Faithists, and many more who consider Oahspe an inspired text. The Faithists are now the Universal Faithists of Kosmon, and—judging from their numerous websites—seem to be strongly divided into separate factions that all regard the others as brainwashing cults.

Shalam Colony itself is now only ruins—adobe walls, a name on a country road sign, a story, and the desert beside the river.

Moer information can be found at http://archives.nmsu.edu/exhibits/shalam2/
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Re: The Faithists of New Mexico

Post by zerdini on Mon Jun 02, 2008 6:10 am

A sample of the text of Oahspe will give an impression of its style:

1. JEHOVIH said: By virtue of My presence created I the seen and the unseen worlds. And I commanded man to name them; and man called the seen worlds Corper, and the unseen worlds Es; and the inhabitants of Corpor, man called corporeans. But the inhabitants of Es he called sometimes es'eans and sometimes spirits, and sometimes angels.
2. Jehovih said: I created the earth, and fashioned it, and placed it in the firmament; and by My presence brought man forth a living being. A corporeal body gave I him that he might learn corporeal things; and death I made that he might rise in the firmament and inherit My etherean worlds.
3. To es I gave dominion over corpor; with es I filled all place in the firmament. But corpor I made into earths and moons and stars and suns; beyond number made I them, and I caused them to float in the places I allotted to them.
4. Es I divided into two parts, and I commanded man to name them, and he called one etherea and the other atmospherea. These are the three kinds of worlds I created; but I gave different densities to atmospherean worlds, and different densities to the etherean worlds.
5. For the substance of My etherean worlds I created Ethe, the MOST RARIFIED . Out of ethe made I them. And I made ethe the most subtle of all created things, and gave to it power and place, not only by itself, but also power to penetrate and exist within all things, even in the midst of the corporeal worlds. And to ethe gave I dominion over both atmospherea and corpor.

— "The Book of Jehovih", chapter II

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Re: The Faithists of New Mexico

Post by Admin on Mon Jun 02, 2008 6:39 am

Hi Z,

To be honest I think, in that one part, you may have got further than I ever have, we have a copy of this donated to the Mission library. I find myself repelled by the book and its contents in many ways. In addition the colonies it formed were a worry, with many sembalnces of modern cult behaviours. Without wanting to create offence to the followers of the Kosmon Bible and the Faithists I do wonder if he had the benefit of similar substances to that which may have assisted some of our later "channelers".

I have included it because people may find references to Newbrough because of his previous involvement with Spiritualism. Additionally the claims of it being a major channelled work of inspired writing. Unfortunately it was a unique solo performance by him which has never received supporting evidence.

Between this and the developments in the Theosophical society you can begin to trace a thread through to the "ascended masters" etc. although the path may be tortuous with little evidence supporting the claims to be found by people using discernment.

Of course let us not forget that the "Book of the Mormon" is purportedly a channelled work as was the inspiration behind the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Cheers

Jim
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Re: The Faithists of New Mexico

Post by zerdini on Mon Jun 02, 2008 10:47 am

Hi Jim

I agree with all you say particularly in reference to the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses nevertheless there a some interesting references in Oahspe. What caught my eye was a reference to 'Ethereans' long before Arthur Findlay came up with the word or did he read Oahspe as part of his research? We may never know.

Here are a few points I picked up in my research:

Oahspe is a book that has numerous “firsts” i.e. it is the first to use the word “Starship” long before science-fiction writers conceived of interstellar space travel, and also the first to reveal details of a sunken continent in Pacific Ocean whose remnants include Japan, several decades before Lemuria or Mu were thought have been located in the Pacific Ocean.

A cosmogony that gives details of the field of force of the sun and the planets, including comets including properties not known at the time, naming the hottest part of the sun as the photosphere, describing the sun’s field of force that reaches beyond Neptune and pushes the tails of comets away from it (the cosmic wind was not postulated until more than half a century later), identifying the outer small bodies before even the first of them was first sighted (Pluto was discovered half a century later).

As well as containing chapters on a spiritually-based explanation of physical science, Oahspe contains chronologically-ordered accounts that are cosmological revelations concerning the evolution of humanity from 78,000 years ago, and life on Earth, from its start as a planet being formed from its beginnings as a comet, to its first life forms and finally to the appearance of the human race and its progression from beast to spiritual maturity.

The text describes the existence of cyclical events that occur within a range of greater and smaller cycles. For instance, according to Oahspe, the Earth is travelling with the Sun and its planets through regions of space in a large circuit of 4,700,000 years, which is divided into sections of 3,000 years average, which also occur within larger cycles of 24,000 years and 72,000 years and so on. Each of these regions has variations in density and so engender varying conditions of more and less light, including fluctuations in sunlight (light having both spiritual and physical properties is not limited to sunlight) available to the Earth, which has spiritual and physical consequences for Earth and its inhabitants, whereby civilizations have risen and fallen accordingly.

These various regions are under the administration of spiritual or "Etherean" beings with titles such as "god" and "chief" and whose ranks and ages vary in ascending grade, from tens of thousands of years to hundreds of thousands of years old and older, and whose dominions cover vast distances and many spiritual and corporeal worlds of various grades and densities. Included in its contents, Oahspe contains a body of material that purports to provide explanations that cover events in the spirit world and their corresponding effects on events in the physical world dating back to 72,000 years ago, and missing details of ancient historical accounts regarding the origins of all of Earth's religions.

All the best

Z

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Re: The Faithists of New Mexico

Post by Left Behind on Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:34 pm

The irony is that there are probably broken bits and pieces of truth in all of these cults and sects: but probably not much in any one of them.

Jim

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Re: The Faithists of New Mexico

Post by KatyKing on Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:12 pm

That OAHSPE though!
Life just has to be too short.
Someone advertises it in Two Worlds every month. One suspects as a labour of love rather thanprofit. They don't actually say it's OAHSPE in the ad whic comes complete with a a nice piccy of Jesus.
How empty does anyone's life need to be before all that utter drivel begins to actually mean something?
I mean, for goodness sake. If you were obsessive enough be bothered to 'learn' it all then what have you got and for what purpose?
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Re: The Faithists of New Mexico

Post by Left Behind on Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:12 pm

Is that the ad that mentions the James Padgett book?

I started to read that book, but got side-tracked. Somehow the hairsplitting distinctions as to whether Jesus started off divine, or later "became" divine, and all that, just never grabbed me. I figured it's best to either accept him as Christianity traditionally accepts him, or just regard him as a guy with some good ideas.

Jim

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Re: The Faithists of New Mexico

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:42 pm

Hi Katy,

Ther is a very good yahoo group dedicated to the preservation of old books. Its run by a guy called Bob Bayer and has numerous faithists on it. I have to quietly let the Kosmonology slide by on there for the books that they scan. they have done a great service albeit other archive sites have appeared offering full scans of many of the books.

I like Bob though, the group is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NewAgeBooksofTruthandInspiration/

Because of the number of books it becomes necesary to join several of the mirrored sites to get at every book.
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Re: The Faithists of New Mexico

Post by KatyKing on Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:25 pm

Yes that's the one Jim. Seems to be someone working out of a home address. No extant OAHSPE cells in England as far as I've looked.
Interesting how these tiny sects persevere. Until recently a lovely ancient lady sold Jezreels Flying Roll out of a sheltered housing flat in the NE via ads in checkout mags.
I suspect she has gone to her reward now. They are still around i US I thin [House of David]there was a park and a baseball team I think ut probably declined. Their last prophet died under arrest for unpleasantness years ago but his wife carried on and as there was real estate then I think there's still a a remnant. All three OAHSPE Jezreels and HoD are very loosely Southcottian derivations hence [Joanna is my main guide] our passing interest.
Cheers for that link Jim Admin.
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Re: The Faithists of New Mexico

Post by Left Behind on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:17 am

I really don't know anything about them. There are so many cults and religions and sects out there, it's mindboggling! Shocked

Jim

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Re: The Faithists of New Mexico

Post by KatyKing on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:03 pm

G K Chesterton
When people cease to believe in God they do not then believe in nothing.
They believe in anything.
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Re: The Faithists of New Mexico

Post by Left Behind on Sun Mar 04, 2012 3:11 pm

KatyKing wrote:G K Chesterton
When people cease to believe in God they do not then believe in nothing.
They believe in anything.

Very true, Peter.

Or as another variation says, When people stand for nothing, they will fall for anything.

Jim

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