Sunday, June 13, 2010


      tradition, n. the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by work of mouth, or by practice. Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary.
      In 1750 the ship Nancy arrived in Philadelphia carrying Henry William Stiegel, a German glassmaker and ironmaster. He was an active lay Lutheran and associate of Henry Muhlenberg, who is considered to be the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in the United States.
      In 1772 Stiegel donated the land on which the Lutheran church in Manheim, Pennsylvania is now built. The deed stipulated that the cost of the land was “five shillings and ‘in the month of June yearly forever hereafter the rent on One Red Rose if the same shall be lawfully demanded.’”
      It is doubtful whether the rose was actually paid to Stiegel, but in 1892, one hundred and twenty years after the deed containing the red rose clause was written, the idea of the annual payment was revived by a local physician, Dr. J. H. Sieling. A Stiegel descendant, John C. Stiegel of Harrisonburg, Virginia, came to Manheim to receive the rent. The tradition has been carried on every year since.
      Although I wrote about the advantages of creativity my last time out, I believe it is important to keep in mind the warning of George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” One of the more important advantages of tradition is to remind us of events in the past. Some of them worked, some did not.
      Today’s media are filled with events that illustrate the baser instincts of our fellow men. We need to be reminded that true generosity, such as Stiegel’s contribution to the church, also exists. The tradition of paying the rent of “One Red Rose” is such a reminder.
      Tradition has a second important function. Albert Einstein wrote, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". Creativity is important, and I am certainly in favor of it, but sometimes it needs to be tempered with history and experience. As Stephen Leacock wrote, “Lord Ronald…flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.” We need to avoid playing the role of Lord Ronald.
      On June 13, 2010 the rent of a red rose was paid to Margaret Flannigan-Badger, a 9th generation heir of Henry William Stiegel. May the practice continue for at least another 238 years.
      Eventually man concluded that if he could control his own movements, perhaps he could also control the movements of the other entities in his environment. There was no language with which he could directly address the surrounding world — even his ability to address other men was extremely rudimentary — but perhaps he could assert control by his actions. Magic was born!
      Man Takes control – The Spirit Runs Through It.

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