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The 4th Awakening
4 A Short-sheeted History
The Awakening of Latvians by the Herrnhuters is not recognized by Latvian historians as an Awakening. When Latvian historians refer to the First Awakening, they chose to ignore the Herrnhuters except as a force in the deep background. It appears that the Herrnhuters are too removed from the deliberate struggle to raise Latvian ethnic self-consciousness even though the German barons and the Lutheran ministers were very worried that this was what in fact was happening.
In the foreground of Latvian school books, the students are presented with certain university students or writers who dared call themselves “Latvian” [Latvietis (Latweetis)] or wrote patriotic poems. The official period for the First Awakening, with the stamp of approval from government and academia, begins in the 1850s and ends about 1880.
In real time, the First Awakening began with the 1730s and the period mentioned by the government and academic historians was its culmination. Without the Awakening initiated by the Herrnhuters, it is unlikely that there would have been a
or Latvia today. Estonia
The avoidance of real time history, and reducing what is left of it to a date after the 1850s, has enabled the Latvian government to create and then perpetuate the country’s history as an ethnic myth. A state mired in myth is helpful if the intent of the state is to wrest power from the people. Such a state presents itself as “The State” (Valsts). In The State, all ministers and members of parliament are men and women in always clean shirts and polished shoes. They bear the stamp that marks them as “beyond suspicion” of corruption.
A nation, always under the control of an ever “nice” government, is likely to haves many mythical versions of the country’s history in its archives, even as it leaves everything that happened during the first half of the 19th century in a fog.
To give credit where credit is due, let us list some of the achievements of the long neglected Herrnhuter movement.
a) The Latvian community was created with the help of the Herrnhuters (originating in the Moravian Brotherhood). The Herrnhuters began the revival of the Livonians in 1727 with the arrival from Herrnhut of one Christian David.
b) The Herrnhuters brought Latvians (or the Latuaus or Latowice) together by introducing among them choir singing. Singing was used by the Herrnhuters as a recruiting tool. This troubled the German barons and Lutheran ministers. As a result, repression of thought and action was never far from the minds of these elites.
c) The Herrnhuters introduced the practice of democracy by teaching Livlanders to select church officials and other community leaders by drawing lottery tickets from among qualified participants (which practice, one may argue, was a form of one party system superior to the present multi party democratic system. The Herrnhuters, most of who came from
, were aware that the people of Livland used at least two distinct languages. German was the lingua franca of Germany . Livonia
d) The name of
may derive from the Herrnhuter community in Latowice (1565). Upon the dissembly of the community by the Lutherans, the community was forced to move on, and may have taken the name of Latowice with them to Livonia-Livland. On the other hand, perhaps the name Latuous or Lotavica were about the land since the days of Jersika. As I pointed out in the preceding blog, one Antonio Possevino, a legate of the Pope mediating one of the many wars between the Russians, Poles, and Swedes, referred to Latvians as Loutous. Latvia
A quick aside: the consonant V in the name of
, was originally written as U, thus—Liuonia. Perhaps the V simplified both spelling and pronunciation. If so, then “Latuous” may have been pronounced Latvous, which sounds almost identical with that of Latvis. Livonia
So, who were the Herrnhuters? What was it that they had that could get under the skin of the Livonians in ways that the
(“the church of the barons”) could not? We will discuss this question more in blogs in the future, but here is something to set the stage with: Lutheran Church
The Herrnhuters are an outgrowth of the Moravian Brotherhood. The Moravian Brotherhood looks to its origins not just in the writings of John Wycliff (1224-1384), the reformist Englishman, and his Lollard preachers, but to the fact that they all were “leftovers” of the Cathars, the Bogomills, the people of Robin Wood, and many others who were decimated about the time the Pope waged the Albigensian crusade (1209-1255).
This residue of arch-Christianity (which following the crusades and the Inquisition went underground) began to reemerge among neo-Christians almost as soon as they were made scapegoats and sent into exile by the unholy alliance of secular princes and their “good news” religion. The arch-Christians and their holy men, the Johns, if not turned immediately into ashes, found themselves in the wilderness. Nevertheless, they began to reemerge almost as soon as they were dismissed. If John Wycliff was among the first to emerge, the Moravian Brotherhood, led by John Huss soon followed. And there were other remnants as well, such as the Children of Johns of the Latuous, the latter who continued to hide in the forest until the Herrnhuters persuaded them to emerge into the open.
No doubt, the residue or whatever remained of arch-Christianity emerged from the woods to greet the Herrnhuters significantly transformed. They now more or less accepted the neo-Christian theology. They no longer stressed that the so-called Resurrection that they objected to was highly suspect, and was meant to remove John Jesus from Earth to Heaven where He could better sit on his hands. Even so, their reemergence was spirited and worried the authorities. This is one reason why John Wycliff, though he hand-wrote the first English edition of the Bible (1380) and was an academician of renown, did not quite make the grade with the neo-Christian establishment. After he died and his flesh had rotten away from the bones, his bones were dug up, burnt, and the ashes thrown in the river). Nor was any greater approval extended to John Huss (1369-1415), who came to a burning end on the scaffold. Nor were the 30,000 Huguenots killed on St. Bartholomew's Day in 1572.
In short, while the neo-Christians have done what they can to repress any notion that they were preceded by something we may call arch-Christianity, a remnant of the repressed survived in the forest and eventually reemerged as Protestants. The reemergence of the Children of Johns in
no doubt was part of this reemergence. They also were more oriented toward the arch-Christian way of thinking than were those who came from the Christendom of NeuBurg. Livonia
That is why the NeuBurg Lutherans were in conflict with them from the very beginning, and why eventually they succeeded (with government help) in repressing them. In terms of the Big Picture, this is why the history of
before 150 years is virtually unknown. Latvia
They way to further back is blocked by the forest of “The Times of Lawgiving” (Mehrnieku laiki). If anyone gets to the other side of this forest, he comes to a precipitous drop into ancient history, where every attempt to portray reality meets up with a heroic posture—whether of man or woman.Asterisks & Links of Interest