Saturday, August 02, 2008

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 3

Emmanuel Domenech Says Houston Infested with Methodists and Ants, August 1848

A young French Roman Catholic missionary volunteer travelled through Houston during the first week of August 1848 on his way to his post among Roman Catholics near San Antonio. He was not impressed with the young city. His comment that Houston was “infested with Methodists and ants” has been widely cited in histories of Houston.

That oft quoted line is part of a vivid memoir of his Texas experience Missionary Adventures in Texas and Mexico.
Domenech also had little good to say about Methodist camp meetings. Here’s his observation

Of all the Methodist eccentricities which I witnessed, the most curious unquestionably was the camp meeting. This ludicrous custom leads to very great excesses. The sectaries assemble in a plain or a wood, and generally remain there for three days. . Their time is spent in listening to the sermons of their ministers, in singing psalms and reciting prayers. Women of a certain age get into melting moods, weep, and utter cries of anguish and repentance at the sight of their sins; sometimes they imagine that the Holy Ghost descends upon them, then, in their own words, they are happy, and impelled by a desire of making their brethren sharers in their happiness, they mount the platform and preach in their turn. Their words are intermingled with sobs and cries, and the assembly, already disposed to excitement by fasting and watching, thereby receive most profound impressions. . . .it is not unusual to see young girls preach, and with an air of inspiration and an extraordinary volubility of utterance, deliver the most impassioned discourses, until at length, they fall into paroxysms of nervous excitement, and into the most frightful convulsions.

Readers of the this column may find his comments on Methodist preachers amusing

. . .ministers. . .are as ignorant as their disciples. They embrace this life as one would enter the grocery business, without any formality whatever. Some of them have but a very limited knowledge of their duties and of the Bible, which is their only guide.


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