17th Century American Puritan Culture by dffhrtcv3


									17 th
    Century American
  Puritan Culture
 (And the legacy it has left for us,
         400 years later.)
     Early American Protestantism:
           cultural differences
Pilgrims                    Puritans
   Landed at Plymouth         Landed further North
    Rock                       Settled in Boston,
   Settled in Cape Cod,        Salem
    south of Boston            Fought “evils” of
   Sought cooperation          Native Americans
    with Native Americans      Created “City on the
   Earliest settlers           Hill” concept
       Early American Protestants:
           religious differences
Pilgrims                    Puritans
   Learned about God          Followed strict
    through natural             interpretation of the
    surroundings                Bible (especially Old
   Trusted actions of          Testament &
    human beings to             Calvinism)
    solve problems             “Sola Fide” – faith
   Separated selves from       alone ruled early
    Church of England           Protestantism
               Puritan Religion
   Pre-destinarian Anxiety: Puritans believed in pre-
    destination – upon birth, an individual is either
    destined for heaven or for hell.
   Universal Literacy – Each person had an
    individual relationship with God & was
    responsible for guarding his/her own faith
   Plain Style – the plainer one‟s adornment,
    words, and lifestyles, the closer one is to God
    (opposite of Catholicism‟s huge degree of
    ornamentation & art)
    Core of Calvanist/Puritan Beliefs

T     otal Depravity (original sin unless in “City on
      the Hill”)

U     nconditional Salvation (no bargaining)

L     imited Atonement (only few = heaven)

I     rresistable Grace (God‟s call = irresist.)

P     erseverance (stay on the golden road)
      Antinomianism (anti-legal)
   Antinomianism was a situation in which an
    individual believed that God spoke directly to
   This was seen as heresy, because in Puritan
    culture, government was a theocracy.
   If God spoke directly to an individual, then that
    would place that individual outside of both the
    church and the law.
   In The Crucible, John Proctor‟s (and, as Miller
    will show, the judges) sin is that he presumes to
    be guided by laws outside of the law.
        Ironies of Protestantism
   Each member of the church is responsible for
    reading the Bible & making sense of it as
    individuals – BUT – if they go too far, they‟re
    tried for antinomianism
   Each member of the “City on the Hill” is
    supposedly pre-destined for heaven – BUT – if
    they believe this, then they‟re too smug, and
    therefore, doomed to hell
   Each human contained within him/herself the
    potential for good – BUT – also, the capacity for
    Puritanism & the “Pathless Path”
   Think about it – New England 400 years ago.
    No roads, few paths, scary animals, vast
   Survival rested on the community‟s ability to
    stay together.
   “Follow the Path” whether to God, heaven, or to
    the water well was essential to survival
   Roaming off the Path whether from God,
    heaven, or the water well was a sure path to
    death/the devil
    “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry
   Famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards –
    analogical devices (humans=worms; fire=hell)
   Uses pathos (emotional appeals), strong
    imagery, and fiery diction to convince listeners
    that they‟d better shape up because God thinks
    they‟re loathsome
   Lays out Puritanical weapon of accusing
    members that they‟re disgusting in order to get
    them to stay in line
   This legacy, a deep-seated shame of sin and our
    own awfulness, still resides in much of American
We find it easy to tread on and crush a
 worm that we see crawling on the earth;
 so it is easy for us to cut or singe a
 slender thread that any thing hangs by;
 thus easy is it for God when he pleases to
 cast his enemies down to hell…
The wrath of God burns against them, their
 damnation does not slumber; the pit is
 prepared, the fire is made ready, the
 furnace is now hot, ready to receive them;
 the flames do now rage and glow. The
 glittering sword is whet, and held over
 them, and the pit hath opened its mouth
 under them…
The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much
  as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect
  over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully
  provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire;
  he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else,
  but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes
  than to bear to have you in his sight; you are
  ten thousand times more abominable in his
  eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is
  in ours.
And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a
  day wherein Christ has thrown the door of
  mercy wide open, and stands in the door calling
  and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a
  day wherein many are flocking to him, and
  pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are
  daily coming from the east, west, north, and
  south…How awful is it to be left behind at such
  a day! To see so many others feasting while
  you are pining and perishing! How can you rest
  one moment in such a condition?...
   Poem by Anne Bradstreet – analogical devices
    (sun=God‟s eye; rivers=nature‟s paths)
   Stands at edge of settlement & forest in autumn
    – the threshold between nature and society,
    summer & winter
   Wonders whether greatness of nature could be
    contained by one God – ultimately thinks yes
   Explores paths through the forest until they
    merge with nature‟s paths (i.e. rivers) and end
    in the ocean – the ultimate “pathless path.”
   “Contemplations” - excerpts
Some time now past in the autumnal tide,
When Phoebus wanted but one hour to bed,
The trees all richly clad, yet void of pride,
Were gilded o‟er by his rich golden head.
Their leaves and fruits seemed painted, but was
Of green, of red, of yellow, mixed hue;
Rapt were my senses at this delectable view.
       Contemplations, cont.
Silent alone, where none or saw, or heard
In pathless paths I led my wand‟ring feet,
My humble eyes to lofty skies I reared
To sing some song, my mazed Muse
  thought meet.
My great Creator I would magnify,
That nature had thus decked liberally;
But Ah, and Ah, again, my imbecility.
Under the cooling shadow of a stately elm
Close sat I by a goodly river‟s side,
Where gliding streams the rocks did overwhelm,
A lonely place, with pleasures dignified.
I once that loved the shady woods so well,
Now thought the rivers did the trees excel,
And if the sun would ever shine, there would I
Nor is‟t enough, that though alone mayst slide,
But hundred brooks in thy clear waves do meet,
So hand in hand along with thee they glide
To Thetis house, where all embrace and greet.
Thou emblem true of what I count the best,
O could I lead my rivulets to rest,
So may we press to that vast mansion, ever blest
The mariner that on smooth waves doth glide
Sings merrily and steers his bark with ease,
As if he had command of wind and tide,
And now become great master of the seas:
But suddenly a storm spoils all the sport,
And makes him long for a more quiet port,
Which „gainst all adverse winds may serve for fort.
O Time the fatal wrack of mortal things,
That draws oblivion‟s curtains over kings;
Their sumptuous monuments, men know them
Their names without a record are forgot,
Their parts, their ports, their pomp‟s all laid in th‟
Nor wit nor gold, nor buildings scape time‟s rust;
But he whose name is graved in the white stone
Shall last and shine when all of these are gone.
          Crucible connections…
   Plain style: (golden candlesticks – Proctor thinks they‟re
    excessive; Parris wants them).
   Antinomianism: Proctor accused of following his own
    law, but judges are constructing an unjust law.
   Pre-destinarian Anxiety: – the girls “name names,” but
    the whole town points fingers at supposed sinners
   Total Depravity: basis for assumption that devils are
    inhabiting the village – easier than assuming that
    individual “chosen ones” have sinned.
   Pathless Paths: Abigail & girls are literally caught off the
    path, but the judges are also confused about which is
    the correct “path.” Hale ends up seeing that their path
    had been wrong.
         Red Scare connections
   Americans continue to live with the legacy that they
    are both “the chosen ones” and inherently
   Communism, which seeks to protect the individual
    through total solidarity of communities, seen as
    “sinful” by a judgmental government
   Political sins punished without credible evidence,
    only by hysterical finger-pointing during the
    McCarthy era.
   Punishment is social (loss of respect, loss of good
    name) rather than criminal – very few people
    convicted of treason, but many lives ruined because
    of political connections.
   The Salem Witch Trials
   The Red Scare
   The Patriot Act
   All are reflections of our dual identity – as
    destined for greatness, yet inherently
    flawed. “We” – some chosen few in our
    government – are duty-bound to find and
    punish those who think “differently” than
    others. The problem? You discuss…

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