Happy S. Love

Photograph of Happy S. Love used with permission of the Dorothy L. Moore papers, Emory University
Photograph of Happy S. Love used with permission of the Dorothy L. Moore papers, Emory University

To stay sweet and meek

Right at your Savior’s feet

For He will make a way to keep

‘Your Dorothy’ as His very heart beat

Then why not stay soft, tender and sweet

You have no other to seek

Cause He will forever be

The very one you need

So come and see

When He calls Your Dorothy

‘Please come and see me’

Because, I cause you to fall in love with me

And I want You solely for my very heart beat

P.S. How do you like that? Dedicated to your Dot from Father in me.

Happy S. Love to Dorothy L. Moore

January 8, 1949

In what context might a portrait photograph sent to one’s object of love and desire also be an expression of spirituality? Or a devotional poem about God’s power to fulfill all needs also a statement of need and desire for human emotional and physical, perhaps even sexual, contact? How might the above photograph of and poem by Happy S. Love provide access to the ways that spirituality can structure and convey erotic desire and sexuality?

No trace remains in the archive of Happy S. Love’s identity or life before she joined Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement, most likely in the 1940s, and took a spiritual name to reflect the transformation she underwent through her belief in the divinity of Father Divine. She lived in one of the movement’s residences in Newark, New Jersey, having broken ties with her family of birth in favor of her new family of brothers and sisters in the movement. In doing so, she also chose to commit herself to a sex-segregated, celibate, communal life. Everything about members’ lives prior to accepting Father Divine had to be left behind. In their lives with him, they adopted new attitudes toward embodiment. Father Divine preached, quoting and expanding on Romans 12:1, “’I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, Holy, acceptable unto God, for such is your reasonable service.’ That is to give up your body for the Spirit’s sake and recognize the Spirit and the Life as Supreme. And when you do that, you are seeking the Kingdom of Heaven. You are looking to the Heavenly state of consciousness and not to the material or mortal state. . . .” The communal residences, often referred to by outsiders as “heavens,” served in many ways to help Divine’s “Angels” sacrifice their mortal bodies to a spiritual purpose. In coming into Father Divine’s Kingdom, Happy S. Love also pledged to live out the movement’s theological perspective that race was a product of the negative mind under the influence not of God, but of “the other fellow.” Members refused to use racial language, opting instead to speak of people as “dark complected” and “light complected,” and people of different complexions ate, worked, and lived together, even making sure that shared beds were integrated. As one of Divine’s “Angels,” Happy S. Love lived in the glow of God’s bodily presence in the person of Father Divine, surrounded by her spiritual sisters and brothers.

Into this world came Dorothy (Dot) Moore, a “light complected” student at Bemidji State Teachers College who had discovered the Peace Mission Movement through friends from Minnesota who had relocated to the movement’s headquarters of Philadelphia. The archival record does not reveal whether Moore was pursuing personal spiritual questions or was simply curious about her friends’ life choice when she spent her summer vacation in 1948 with Peace Mission members in Philadelphia. It was probably not until the winter of 1948-1949 that she met Happy S. Love during a visit she made with Father and Mother Divine and some of the Philadelphia followers to Newark. Happy S.’s intense melancholy after Dot’s departure gives some sense that the meeting affected her greatly. She wrote to Dot following the visit, “I was feeling bad nearing the end, especially when I saw the last of you. . . . But Dot how happy will I be again when you come home to stay forever.  .  . .  I miss you.” Happy S. wondered in her letter whether Dot missed her and her “crazy ways” and hoped that Dot wouldn’t mind the correspondence. Below her signature, Happy S. included the poem she had written to Dot presumably to demonstrate how much she enjoyed her company. But, she was certain to add that, when she spoke of Dot as “you,” she meant “Father in you” and that when she spoke of herself, she meant “Father in me.”

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