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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Pansies

The world of religion is filled with various fascinating and exciting beliefs. Often throughout history, there will be schisms as some sects break away from larger denominations. Many survive and are well known: Lutherans, Anglicans, etc.

Some, however, make an impact but then for whatever reason disappear into the folds of history.

As a side note, I'll be you didn't know you could fold history. It's true. Just print this out and then start making some creases. There. You just folded history. Feel strong and virile yet?

The Pentecostal Assembly of the New Salvation was formed in 1862 in Kansas. Just one year after becoming a state, the former Kansas Territory was filled with people of all walks of life.

Kansas was named after the Kansa tribe which means "people of the wind" or "people of the south wind". And that fact is the only thing true in this entire article.

Pastor John Weems was an amazing and inspiring public speaker and was quickly able to amass a flock from these various peoples known as Kansasans. As his movement grew, followers of the Pentecostal Assembly of the New Salvation, or PANS, were commonly referred to as "pansies".

Some of the Pansies beliefs would be considered a little on the weird side to today's sensibilities, but Kansas in the 1860's was a very different place. Also, I am making this shit up as I go.

The Pansies wore only natural fibers. While the spandex movement was taking hold in other states, The Pansies fought this and maintained that they would only wear that while God had provided.

On Sundays, members would wear homemade sheep costumes while attending Church services to better get into the mindset of being part of a flock. Their respect for sheep was taken to such lengths that the animal was held up as the most perfect animal created by God. You know, what with Jesus being the Shepard, and all.

Being large supporters of the nascent Labor Union movement and the push for an 8 hour work day, PANS took things a step further and lobbied hard for the 1 and 1/2 hour work day. They found no real success with this initiative.

While some people of the time still believed in a Geocentric mode of thought, most accepted the reality of Heliocentrism. The PANS Church, however, were Lunacentric. With a firm belief that everything in the universe revolved around the moon, most of their religious functions were held at night.

Although the Pansies had some wild beliefs, some of what they believed found its way into modern life.

For instance, tetherball. Originally called "tithe ball" it was a punishment for those who were remiss in their tithing. The punishment consisted of a ten foot pole planted in the ground with a large leather ball attached to the top of the pole via a rope. While the offender stood a few feet away from the pole, members of the congregation would take turns hurling the ball at the offender's face with the goal being to get the ball to rebound hard enough to wrap the rope around the pole. The punishment ended either when this was achieved three times or the offender passed out.

Pansies were completely vegetarian. Their modest diet and belief in vegetarianism influenced Ellen G. White and when she helped found the Seventh-day Adventist Church, she incorporated the vegetarian diet into the Church teachings.

In late 1865, Pastor John Weems was mortally injured in a freak sledding accident involving a bison. Much ado was made about the three underage girls and the five quarts of booze found at the scene. This caused a gradual unraveling of the flock's cohesiveness.

By late 1866, the movement was all but dead. Some of their beliefs, as noted, have survived while the vast majority have passed into obsolescence.

Unfortunately for us all, their attempts at a 1 1/2 hour work day failed so spectacularly that no group since has had the bravery to renew their call. As such, you are probably sitting at work reading this right now.

Kinda wish The Pansies had pulled it off, don't you?

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