Privileged Speech:
Prophecy, Pietism, and Beyond

June 5–7, 2014

What does it mean to receive and speak a divinely inspired message? Does it come through a dream, a vision, a moment of ecstasy, or is it a gradual process? What is prophecy? In what forms and media do inspired people express their messages? How do claims of inspiration change the status of the speakers among fellow members of their group, and in the eyes of outsiders?

At this conference, presenters will engage participants in questions about the definitions of inspiration and prophecy, and how inspiration and prophecy affected those who accepted and challenged claims of inspiration. Topics range from Anabaptists to the Inspirationists, the Ephrata Community, the Shakers, the Harmonists and others.

"Privileged Speech: Prophecy, Pietism, and Beyond" opens Thursday afternoon, June 5, and continues through noon on Saturday, June 7.

Patrick Erben, who teaches early American literature and culture at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, will give the opening address. Erben's recent book, A Harmony of the Spirits: Translation and the Language of Community in Early Pennsylvania (University of North Carolina Press, 2012), was awarded the Brown Book Award for 2013.

Peter Hoehnle, author of The Amana People: The History of a Religious Community (2003), and Amana guests will present " Inspiration: Life and Music at Amana" on Thursday evening. 

Jane F. Crosthwaite, professor of religion at Mount Holyoke College, will present "Spiritual Manifestations: The Union of Shaker Art and Vision" on Friday. 

Other presentations will examine the phenomenon of “sleeping preachers” in one Anabaptist group, a remarkable vision by John Herr of the Reformed Mennonites, the Community of True Inspiration (now the Amana Church Society of Iowa), and Conrad Beissel’s claims to receive prophecy at Ephrata, among other topics.

Conference brochure

Conference program



Cost for the full conference is $150 if registered by May 9. After May 9, the full conference rate is $175. Cost for full-time students and members of Plain communities is $120. Daily rates are also available.

The registration deadline is May 20.

Registration options: (1) Register online and pay by credit card. (2) Fax your registration form (page 2 of the brochure) and payment information to (717) 361-1443. (3) Mail your registration form and payment to Privileged Speech Conference 2014, Young Center, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA 17022-2298. 



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