The cattle disease of 1865–6 was the last time the civil authorities ordered special prayers in response to a natural calamity. Other colonial states, notably the Canadian and New Zealand colonies, followed Britain and did not mark environmental calamities with special worship after the 1860s.This chapter explains why days of humiliation, appointed in times of drought, proliferated in the unstable ecologies and environments of the Australian colonies after 1860. Drought was considered an appropriate cause, as such ‘slow catastrophes’ were not fully understood, and it was supposed that low rainfall, ruined crops and the mass deaths of livestock affected everyone – urbanites and farmers alike. Repeated days of worship sharpened a providential awareness, reminded colonists of what made their colony or region distinct, and encouraged the kind of provincialism discussed in Chapter 4. The days that churches and states and set aside in times of drought stimulated reflection and debate about the efficacy of prayer, the causes of drought, the relationship between human actions and climate change, and the environmental consequences of colonisation. An archive of ‘environmental sermons’ provides evidence that Christian ministers were conservationists who reconciled a belief in God’s natural laws and processes – His ‘general providence’ – with an interest in technological solutions to environmental degradation.
The introduction defines special worship, explains the chronological and geographical focus, and outlines the book’s key themes. These are brought out through an early examination of the chief similarities and differences between traditions of special worship in the British Isles and the settler colonies. The chief difference, one that provides a key problematic explored in the book, is that while British governments ceased to set aside special days of prayer for all but royal occasions after 1860, colonial states continued to use the royal proclamation to summon their populations to special acts of worship well into the twentieth century. Also, while days of ‘fasting’ and ‘humiliation’, appointed by states, disappeared in the British Isles after 1857, such occasions remained a customary response to crisis in settler societies. All this raises large questions about the nature of authority in colonial societies, the religious basis of community identity and the invention and persistence of tradition in overseas settlements. In addition to exploring these varied histories of special worship, the introduction explains why traditional forms, such as the special day of prayer, require the attention of ‘British world’ scholars. Often the study of colonial society is a search for the new. This book argues that equal attention should be paid to the old and the traditional if the varied character of Britain’s colonial settler societies is to be understood.
Chapter 3 considers the meanings that church leaders, lower clergy, congregations and private individuals attached to special acts of worship. It first considers how governments and churches overcame the ‘tyranny of distance’ and spread the news of forthcoming occasions. Observances, responses and styles of worship varied between churches, but within denominations too. Worship in the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches was structured and centralised, as archbishops and bishops issued forms of prayer and pastoral letters that guided clergy on the causes of worship and the use of prayer books and liturgies. Cultures of prayer and worship in other Protestant denominations had a freer character. Despite these differences, all churches discovered that colonial conditions required them to give much responsibility for organising special worship to lay communities. In many ways, then, it was the laity that made institutional religion work in the colonial world. The chapter also considers the messages, such as collective sin and divine providence, that clergy communicated to congregations (and to indigenous communities on missions) on fasts and thanksgivings. While ministers and congregations shared common providential beliefs, the chapter recognises that special days of worship could be contested occasions: individuals did not always engage in religious events, people disagreed on the meaning of great calamities, and some occasions, such as Canadian thanksgivings, became more about holidaying and feasting.
European settlers in Canada, Australia and South Africa said they were building ‘better Britains’ overseas. But devastating wars, rebellions, epidemics and natural disasters often threatened these new societies. It is striking that settlers in such environments turned to old traditions of collective prayer and worship to make sense of these calamities. At times of acute stress, colonial governments set aside whole days of fasting, humiliation and intercession so that entire populations could join together to implore God’s intervention, assistance or guidance. And at moments of relief and celebration, such as the coming of peace, or the birth of a royal, the whole empire might participate in synchronised acts of thanksgiving and praise to God. This book asks why acts of ‘special worship’ with origins in early modernity became numerous in the democratic, pluralistic and often secularised conditions found in the settler societies of the ‘British world’. Such intense and highly visible occasions had the potential to reach all members of a colonial society: community-wide occasions of prayer were hard to ignore, they required considerable organisation, and they stimulated debate and reflection on a range of political, social and religious issues. The book argues that religion, and more specifically traditional rituals and practices, had a vital role to play in the formation of regional identities and local particularisms in what remained, in many ways, a loosely networked and unconnected empire.
Imperial occasions of special worship, most notably for royal events, became more frequent in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. Various kinds of special worship marked royal occasions in 1872, 1887, 1897, 1901, 1902, 1910 and 1911. Though the task of proclaiming and organising special acts of worship was devolved to colonial authorities, technological developments, namely the telegraph, meant there was some coordination, and colonial and metropolitan observances took place almost simultaneously The jubilees of 1887 and 1897, the coronations of 1902 and 1911, and memorial services for dead monarchs exhibited much of the ceremonial style that became such a feature of royal celebration and commemoration in the United Kingdom (they also had an intimate and personal quality which was lacking in special worship for other causes). These popular and multi-faith events also provided a focus for imperial unity in an age of colonial self-government and church independence. The chapter argues that the movements of governors on royal occasions – that is, where they chose to worship – are an important register of the evolving relationship between the monarchy, and the Crown authorities more generally, and the empire’s varied faith communities. The chapter also suggests that royal occasions had an integrative and popular character because colonial communities – from the most privileged to the marginalised – had various reasons for identifying with the monarchy: the Crown might be viewed as a protector of minority rights, a symbol of Protestant ascendancy and a point of appeal.
This chapter is devoted to the life and thought of perhaps the most theologically radical of all the figures considered in this study, R. Aaron Shmuel Tamaret. Like many of his peers here, R. Tamaret studied in elite rabbinic institutions but, despite more prestigious offers, took up a congregational post in a quiet village in Poland. The chapter begins with an examination of his typology of religious phenomena, in which he identifies paganism with de-individuation, distinguishing it from pure faith as the opposing tendency. It then proceeds to present his views on ultra-orthodoxy and Zionism as pagan regressions from pure faith undertaken in response to the supposed tragedy of exile; the one reducing man to God’s arbitrary will, the other reducing man to nationality, territory, and the state. Then, tracing his account of Jewish history from the period of Egyptian slavery through the rise of diaspora Judaism, the chapter demonstrates Tamaret’s understanding of Judaism as realized in the diaspora experience. Namely as a civilization organized around a divinely inspired ethical system organically developed within the popular institution of the beys midrash. Finally, it shows that Jewish chosenness, the Jewish mission to humanity on his interpretation of it, entails spreading precisely this idea by living example. In other words, it is argued that Tamaret’s work is a shining example of theologically grounded anarcho-diasporism.
This chapter frames the intersection of anarchism and Jewish tradition by appeal to a literary anecdote. Then, the conflict between religious and anti-religious trends in anarchist thought is addressed. This conflict is then brought into the Jewish fold and an overview of the state of research on the topic of Jewish radicalism generally and Jewish anarchism in particular is provided. The aim of this review is to explain how the present volume intervenes by putting in question the supposed dichotomy between Jewish radicalism or anarchism and Jewish traditionalism. The issue of canon and canonization is then discussed; the purpose of this book being both to expand the anarchist canon and to begin the process of creating a canon of World War I. The limits of this provisional canon as it exists in this book are then addressed: these include gender, geography, and culture. The degree to which the figures discussed in this book can be described as a ‘group’ is then considered. Finally, an overview of the remainder of the book is provided.
This chapter discusses the nexus of Tolstoyan anarcho-pacifism and Jewish tradition in the life and thought of Rabbi Avraham Yehudah Heyn, an orthodox rabbi of prestigious Habad hasidic lineage, who served several communities throughout Europe and in Palestine/Israel. Responding to the infamous Beilis trails, in which the ancient blood libel was revived in Russia, he promoted a hermeneutic of resistance, interpreting Jewish tradition as the foil of the state and of state-sanctioned violence — indeed, all violence. This chapter considers five themes. First, the notion that the essence of Judaism consists in a conviction as to the absolute sanctity of human life. Second, the implications this has for a pacifist vision for human society reminiscent of Tolstoy's but articulated in a distinctively Jewish manner. Third, the way that the idea of human sanctity grounds both Heyn’s socialism and his anarchism, including his approach to building a libertarian Jewish society cognizant of and authentically bound to but not bound by tradition. Fourth, his vision for a morally sound revolution of the heart. Finally, his complex and in some ways contradictory reflections on Zionism.
This chapter reviews major themes covered in the discussion of Anarcho-Judaism as embodied in the figures studied throughout this volume. These include: Jewish collective identity, the mission of Israel, the question of organization (geographical, institutional, legal, and economic), and the place of violence in effecting large-scale change. After this review, proposals re offered as to contemporary relevance of anarcho-Jewish perspectives. This begins with a discussion of distinctions between utopia and ideology on the one hand, and classical utopianism and critical utopianism on the other. I argue that World War I can be interpreted as a critical-utopian discourse. I then put this claim to use in suggesting ways that values and concerns that appear in the articulation of World War I can inform responses to the contemporary crisis of Zionism.
This chapter begins by situating the development of World War I chronologically and geographically: the nineteenth century in the Russian Pale of Settlement. It is argued that antisemitic persecution disappointed hopes for Jewish integration into European society such that former Enlightenment assimilationists returned to the Jewish fold. This is said to have influenced both the rise of Jewish nationalism and Jewish anarchism, both of which intersected in the Hibbat Zion movement as centered in the Valozyn Yeshiva (seminary). Narodnik influence is discussed at length and used to compare World War I to the Bund on the one hand and to ultra-orthodox isolationism on the other. The theological background of World War I is then examined on five fronts: the idea of man as made in the image of God; the mandate to neighborly love; the legal and moral status of the ancient Hebrew monarchy; the prophetic tradition as a voice of justice; and messianic traditions involving the eventual abrogation of Jewish law.