Mysterious Universe’s Micah Hanks has written a rather excellent piece on nineteenth century freethinker and all-around oddball John Murray Spear. It’s definitely worth a read.
Clergyman, abolitionist, secret-society founder, 1850′s women’s rights and free-love advocate… and eventually a steam-punk “godsmith” seeking to create a kind of holier-than-holy, copper-bound mecha-messiah.
Needless to say, John Murray Spear must have been a sight to be held in his day.
Touting the virtues of extra-marital sex and birth control by the middle 1850s, he was indeed a renegade for his time, having been essentially excommunicated by his brothers and sisters in the Universalist Church of America, under which he had served as a minister for more than two decades. Now, rather than seeking to serve the will of God, he had changed gears in the most literal sense.
It was time to institute a new age, Spear believed, and with the wisdom of long-dead scientific geniuses he claimed to be channeling, his aim was to create a new kind of God for the coming utopian age of enlightened thinkers.
His message of profound love had long been a dominating influence in his life and of those around him. Spear had been regarded widely for co-organizing the Boston Vigilance Committee, which aimed at assisting escaped and fugitive slaves from being captured as part of the famous Underground Railroad. Spear’s influence among his fellow abolitionists had been profound indeed: William Lloyd Garrison once wrote of him that, “although the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal but spiritual, we [do] not object at all to the use of the ‘Spear.’”
His outreach to slaves and prisoners branched further outward, and Spear would soon also become a champion against the use of the death penalty. It is clear that, despite the controversy surrounding his activism (much of which had still been considered taboo around that time), Spear’s goal had been to bring about change through literal implementation of “peace and love,” a precursor to the 1960s anti-war movement and sexual revolutions that would occur amidst the “hippie” generation more than a century later.