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The Coastal Packet

The longtime national journal, Progressive Review, has moved its headquarters from Washington DC to Freeport, Maine, where its editor, Sam Smith, has long ties. This is a local edition dealing with Maine news and progressive politics.

2/3/10

THE SHAKER STORY

Many Mainers know about the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake, but an article in this month's Down East tells about shaking as well as Shakers, including a time when ecstatic worship included "whirling, twirling, it was running, it was leaping, it was dancing, it was rolling on the floor."

Maine is home to one of the last communities of Shakers at Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester. Part of a religious movement that began in the eighteenth century and spread throughout the Northeast before falling into decline at the turn of the twentieth century, the Shakers became famous for their craftsmanship and unconventional religious beliefs and traditions. The Shakers’ practices of celibacy and “ecstatic worship” (from whence came the term Shaker) prompted suspicion, disdain, and mean-spirited rumors from their neighbors.

The article is based on a new book by journalist Jeannine Lauber shows Shaker life as being different from popular perception. In this exclusive excerpt she documents an eye-witness account of the last ecstatic dance to take place among the Shakers of Sabbathday Lake.

Chosen Faith, Chosen Land is a study of the contemporary Shaker faith. The new book takes readers on a journey, in words and images, through the lives of America’s 21st-Century Shakers. Over a 15-year period renowned journalist and author, Jeannine Lauber, was granted excusive, unprecedented access to the private lives of the last remaining Shakers allowing her to reveal what it means to be a Shaker at Maine’s own Chosen Land that surrounds Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester, Maine.

Jeannine Lauber pierces many of the misconceptions and myths about the religion - most notably that all Shakers are dead - and she offers a modern-day view of their faith and surrounding community.

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