Lunch Time Booktalk in the MCMA library,June 17,2010

JUNE 17 th lunchtime Booktalk with author Jeannine Lauber in the MCMA library at noon, bring your lunch, dessert and drinks provided.

Chosen Faith, Chosen Land


It was a Sunday service at Chosen Land, the Shaker community near Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester, that sparked broadcast journalist Jeannine Lauber’s interest in the history of the Shakers and their modern role in Maine. In the preface of her new book, Chosen Faith, Chosen Land: The Untold Story of America’s 21st Century Shakers, she describes the feeling of change that she felt when attending that first service: even “the outside world looked slightly different through the antique panes of glass on the double-hung windows.” Raised as a Catholic, Lauber became a member of the Friends of Shakers, attending the church while not a Shaker herself. She became so close to the four Shakers who lived in the community at Chosen Land that one asked Lauber if she could do something to help stop the myths that she felt Ken Burns’ documentary Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God was perpetuating: “It’s full of mistakes and gives people the impression that there are no Shakers left, that our faith is dead.” Lauber’s consequent work in creating her own documentary Chosen Faith, Chosen Land convinced her that far from being dead, Shakerism had strong connections to “Postmodern” Christianity.

The MHC was one of Lauber’s early funders, and she has told us how critical the early grants were. In 2002, the MHC provided a $500 planning grant for Lauber to contact Shaker scholars and experts about their participation in a documentary film on the life and work of “Mother” Ann Lee, who founded the Shaker faith in 1774. In 2003, the MHC gave another grant, this time for $3,000, to support pre-production of the one-hour film. The MHC was proud to help fund this creative historical analysis.

Chosen Faith, Chosen Land, based on the 1816 Testimonies (Shaker journals from the 1830s to 1850s) and interviews with the four Shakers at Sabbathday Lake, is to be released in the fall of 2010. The film was different from other documentaries, Lauber said, through its examination of Shaker history through the eyes of its founder, Mother Ann Lee, and the voices telling that story were the voices of Shakers themselves.


Lauber, an Emmy-award-winning broadcast journalist who has worked as an anchor and an investigative reporter (winning an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2000), spent 15 years learning about the Shakers at Sabbathday Lake, an unprecedented opportunity to join in their lives. In her new book, Chosen Faith, Chosen Land, she shares a modern perspective of what it means to be a Shaker and live in a Shaker community, debunks common misconceptions, and explores how Shaker faith relates to today’s Christianity.

For more information on the book Chosen Faith, Chosen Land, to purchase it, or simply to peek inside, go to www.chosenfaithchosenland.com.

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