November 28, 2013


Scholars aim to dispel the Puritans' prudish image (Mark O'Keefe, Nov. 23, 2002, Religion News Service)
[T]here is something Puritan about America as we've always known it, argues Charles Haynes, senior scholar of the First Amendment Center, a research group in Arlington, Va. He cites politics, and the influence of John Winthrop, as just one example.

Winthrop, Puritan governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company, gave a 1630 sermon called "A Model of Christian Charity." Winthrop used a phrase from the New Testament's Matthew 5:14, referring to America as a "city on a hill" that would inspire and lead the world.

It has become customary for American presidential candidates to give at least one "city on a hill" speech, Haynes said, noting that Ronald Reagan repeatedly used the phrase as his overarching vision for the country. Similarly, Bill Clinton used the Puritan language of "new covenant" to describe his political agenda.

"We are all Puritans today in how we see the world and how we see America's place in the world," Haynes said.

There's nothing more curious to me than our insistence, against all common sense, on believing that our ancestors must have been miserable. [originally posted: 12/01/02]
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Posted by at November 28, 2013 12:05 AM

No sex on Sunday, no dancing, no games. Why

wouldn't I think they were miserable?

We all voted with our feet, didn't we? Nobody

arranges his schedule to duplicate the jolly

times of Puritan New England. I haven't seen

a sexton with a feather on a pole to wake up

the snoozing zealots for several months now.

Posted by: Harry at December 1, 2002 8:31 PM

Harry -

First of all, you really should read the article.

Second, and most importantly, if being forbidden sex one day a week is really a serious constraint for you, well, then, um, oh, never mind.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 1, 2002 9:10 PM

One of the things that really stands out in Edmund Morgan's Puritan Dilemma (review later today, hopefully) is that the Puritans lived freer lives than we do.

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2002 10:42 AM

Free to spend attend mandatory 4-hour

sermons on infant damnation? Not my kind of


I've not read Morgan's article, but I tried

reading his book (was it "American Slavery,

American Freedom," been so long I've forgotten

the title). It is not often that I find a history

book so unpersuasive that I throw it away

without finishing it, but I did Morgan's.

Posted by: Harry at December 2, 2002 3:48 PM
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