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Scholarship of Discovery


The purpose of this dissertation is to study the religious character of the Amana Society from the death, in 1867, of Christian Metz, the inspired leader who brought the group to America, to the time of the Great Change in 1932 when the religious and economic interests of the society were separated. This study begins with a brief history of the society from its inception in eighteenth-century Germany to the time the community moved to Iowa and continues with a presentation of the doctrines and worship patterns of the Amana Society. They, too, must be taken into consideration if one is to understand why Amana responded as it did to its rapidly changing environment at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. The major thrust of this dissertation will be an analysis of the religious developments of the society from 1867 to 1932. The generally accepted view of Amana's religious development states that the social changes which occurred within the community reflect a breakdown of the group's religion. This dissertation challenges the generally accepted theory of spiritual declension and offers evidence from primary sources indicating that faith played a vital role in the life of the community from the death of Christian Metz through the events of the Great Change. Rather than this radical change being made because faith was no longer important, it was actually made because faith was still strong. Members of Amana were dealing with a social system that was not working and wanted to do whatever necessary to preserve their community with its faith. Change in the Amana community occurred because the faith was so important to members that they were willing to adopt new forms in order to preserve their religion in a rapidly changing environment.


Ph.D. dissertation completed in 1988 for Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee).