Orphan Utopia

RG89-026-028Reed McConnell at Cabinet Magazine:

When the angels appeared to John Ballou Newbrough early one morning in 1881, he was nothing if not well prepared. A dentist and Spiritualist, he had spent the last ten years purifying himself for supernatural contact by abstaining from meat, bathing twice a day, and rising before dawn. The visit was expected.

The angels wanted him to buy a typewriter, a newfangled device—Newbrough described typing as writing “by keys, like a piano” in a letter to the Boston Spiritualist journal The Banner of Light—that would allow him to transcribe their account of the world’s true spiritual history. He obeyed, and for the next fifty weeks the angels visited him in his New York City apartment every morning before sunrise, taking control of his hands in sessions that lasted exactly fifteen minutes. By the end, Newbrough had produced a nine-hundred page manuscript called Oahspe: a history of world religions that exposed their lies and elucidated their fundamental interconnections.

The dictating angels were nothing if not thorough. To supplement the text, they provided Newbrough with images of religious leaders, which he painted in the dark. Among those reproduced in the 1891 edition of Oahspeare the austere, mustachioed Zarathustra, with a cherub grinning behind his left shoulder, and a serenely smiling Confucius, hair stroked by a ghostly figure while an enormous eye floats in the clouds above him.

more here.