Current Events XVIII
Christian Sec. Fraud
Bridge School I
Bridge School II
Dr. Ralph Stanley I
Dr. Ralph Stanley II
Successful Aging I
Successful Aging II
Clear Thinking I
Clear Thinking II
Death Penalty 2010
Death Penalty II
Knowledge Create I
Kn. Creation II
Kn. Creation III
Doctor and Diva I
Doctor and Diva II
Doctor and Diva III
Doctor and Diva IV
Colton H. Bryant I
Colton Bryant II
'61 Rose Bowl Hoax
The King's Speech
Lk 17:11-19 (2011)
Caravaggio in 2011
A Trip to Maui
Advice to Young Folk
Five Days in Maui (2011)
Bill Long 1/14/11
Adding Knowledge to Knowledge
My most recent trip to Maui (January 10-15, 2011) coincided with what locals called the most severe rain and wind storms in anyone's memory. Low, brooding clouds, torrential downpours, gusts that swayed the massive coconut palms, puddled water that turned into ponded water, lightning throughout the night of Wed-Thursday, Jan. 12-13...and more. I did have two clear days, and so I took in the warm sun and crashing waves, but I had an unexpectedly long time to explore some of the history of the place. Of particular interest to me were three events: (1) the early mapping of Hawaii through the third exploratory visit of Captain James Cook in 1778-79; (2) the beginnings and early days of the Congregational missionaries in Maui; and (3) the heartwarming story of the return of the Hawaiian flag to its place in the Lahaina Courthouse in 2002. I knew little of each before I came, but now I go home with a distinctively "layered" understanding of early Maui history. Life is in the layers; sorting them out and examining each, then putting them back together with verbal dexterity and richness, is a most rewarding task.
The Early Christian Mission to Hawaii
I want to jump quickly to the second subject from above. So many things came together in the space of a few decades--a time that transformed Hawaiian culture and inspirited the Protestant Christian missionary movement from America. A few highlights are here:
1. The "Haystack" prayer meeting at Williams College in MA in 1806, where five young men, caught in a rainstorm, repaired to the haystack to pray and dedicate themselves to the task of foreign missions. Where had the idea come from? Had Timothy Dwight, President of Yale, sown the seed? Or had it come from other sources?
2. The founding of Andover Theological Seminary in MA in 1808, which would train many young men for the foreign mission field. For example, the first missionary (Congregationalist) in Maui was the Rev Wm. Richards (1795-1847), a graduate of both Williams College and Andover Seminary.
3. The appearance in New Haven of Henry Opukahaia, a young Hawaiian (born ca. 1792), who was taken in by Pres. Timothy Dwight. Opukahaia had escaped almost certain death in tribal warfare in Hawaii and was hungry to learn English and to reduce his native language to Roman characters. He became a Christian, wrote an autobiography and died prematurely in 1818.
4. The year after Opukahaia's death, a mission contingent, the first sent out by the fledgling American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (founded in the zeal following the Haystack prayer meeting), was sent to Hawaii. They were not officially "invited" by anyone in the Islands, but they showed up in 1820 outside of Honolulu, and were rapidly accepted by the royal family.
5. The royal family was itself undergoing traumatic and dramatic change. Kamehameha I (the Great) had just united the HI Islands under his rule in 1810, but then had died in 1819. Two of his favorite wives were "in charge," and they wanted to modernize/westernize HI, as they realized that the isolated life of previousl days and centuries had to come to an end. But to go from "old Hawaii" in 1815 to a completely "new Hawaii" thirty years later must have been a most unsettling and difficult change. More than one essay would be needed to trace that change.
6. The first Christian (Congregational) missionaries, led by William Richards, arrived in Lahaina in 1823. Richards, a strict New England Calvinist, had difficulty with almost everyone it seems, but he especially angered the whalers--a new breed of seamen who were in great demand because of the need for whale oil in industry and homes. Laws to limit access of local girls to whaling ships, among other things, led to frosty relations.
7. The oldest Congregational church in Lahaina, the Waine'e Church, was founded in 1832. A remodeled version stands today on Waine'e Street, just a few blocks down from the prison, which was constructed in the early 1850s.
8. Most significant for the Congregational ministry in Lahaina might well be the founding of the Lahainaluna School in 1831, along with the printing house, the Hale Pa'i. The purpose of the school was not simply to educate Hawaiian young men in agricultural practices, but to teach them the newly reduced (to writing) Hawaiian langauge, and to train the young men to set up schools throughout Hawaii to teach Christian faith as well as Hawaiian and Western culture. I visited the restored Hale Pa'i today and was given a wonderfully detailed tour by the staff member, who also showed me the way that the printing press actually worked. It was a Ramage Press, which had come to Honolulu in 1833 and then, in December 1833, was shipped to Maul. The first publication off the press was in Feb. 1834, where a Hawaiian-language newspaper was printed. Over the next several years, the press saw the publication of everything from student textbooks to a History of Hawaii (1838--in Hawaiian) to the Laws of 1843.
A story illustrating the foibles of human nature arose when the press began to be used to print money--in 1843. The paper money was printed in six denominations. By January 8, 1844, however, we have a story of one student who had decided to try to "imitate" or "counterfeit" the money already printed. He was expelled, and the next printing of money had secret marks on the currency that was supposed to prevent counterfeiting. You can see the marks on the currency in the museum.
Much, much more could be said and, I hope, I might be able to say it some day.
2002 (In Brief)
The big event from 2002 was the return of the flag of the Hawaiian Republic by the Waal family to the Lahaina Courthouse, where it had been lowered to be replaced by the flag of the Territory of HI on August 12, 1898. Arthur Waal Sr. had come to Lahaina from Norway in the early 1890s and, by 1898, was assistant postmaster of the town. The postmaster himself was unavailable on that day, and so when the United States officially extended its sovereignty over HI, the eight striped flag (with the Union Jack in the upper left) with stripes colored white, red, blue, white, red, blue, white, red, was given to Arthur Waal. He lived until grand old age, dying in 1959, just months before HI was granted statehood. The flag was kept in a cedar chest and ended up with his son Arthur Waal Jr. For more than 40 years no one really thought anything of the flag, but then it was dug out by the family, and in 2002, presented back to Lahaina by the then 84 year-old son, Arthur Waal Jr. A more touching ceremony could scarcely be imagined..
Well, once you begin to dive into history, you never really want to come up for air. Question leads to question, and way leads to way. Along the way, one might want to study the history and growth of the great banyan tree, Ficus benghalensis, planted as recently as 1873--to commemorate 50 years of the Congregational mission in town. One might study further the Christianization of the royal family, the way that Kamehameha III adopted Western values, the actual work of the missionaries in the 1820's-1850s, the Great Mahele of 1848, the entry of the Chinese a few years later, the disappearance of the whalers in the late 1860s, the beginnings of the sugar cane industry, the gradual "takeover" of HI by Western law, especially land use and water rights law, and a host of other topics.
While the external beauty of Maui was somewhat under wraps this week, it provided an unparalleled opportunity to probe the factors that shaped the history of this great island. I should be glad for another visit...