Solo disponible en BuenasTareas
  • Páginas : 10 (2274 palabras )
  • Descarga(s) : 0
  • Publicado : 16 de enero de 2012
Leer documento completo
Vista previa del texto



General Background

How did the Puritans construct a society from scratch, based on religious belief?

People have images of Puritans as somber, sour-visaged people who were, in the words of a famousAmerican journalist, “desperately afraid that somebody, somewhere might be having a good time.” That image is inaccurate.Puritans were in fact very passionate people who lived their lives as fully as they could. They often wore colorful clothes, danced, and even drank “strong waters” on occasion. They believed that sex was a blessing from God to be enjoyed to the fullest, though within the confines ofmarriage. They had large families. What Puritans opposed was anything that wasted time or resources. For example, they thought gambling and card playing were sinful, not because they were inherently evil but because they wasted time.

Puritans worked very hard and saw themselves as stewards of God's bounty—the so-called Protestant work ethic originated with the Puritans and is the source of folkwisdom such as “Early to bed, early to rise ...,” “A penny saved is a penny earned,' and so on. The Puritans believed that if one worked hard and pleased God, one would be successful in this life, so prosperity was seen as a good thing—a measure of God's favor. Because it is safe to say that hard work will tend to make people prosperous whether or not God is involved, their prosperity—the “serpentprosperity,” as they called it—tended to dilute their intense religiosity. Their church became the Congregational Church, a religious system that emphasized local control and independence. Religion was closely connected with the Puritan political structure, so the congregational system spilled over into their civic institutions, which gave us the famous “New England town meeting”—a form of puredemocracy, though the church itself was not democratically organized.
The Puritans believed beyond much doubt that they were absolutely on the right track. John Winthrop's “Model” describes a society that, if the Puritans had been able to achieve it, would have been a reasonable facsimile of paradise on Earth. Being human, they could not sustain their religious fervor, nor live up to the idealizedconditions Winthrop laid out, but they created a strong, vibrant society that prospered and influenced American behavior and attitudes far beyond their temporal and geographical boundaries.

The “New England Way.”

The Puritan way of life consisted of a mixture of religion and politics based on principles called the New England Way. First, they believed in both personal and collectiveautonomy within each village or settlement. Their faith, which survives to this day, was known as Congregationalism. That gave them local control over both religious and political matters. The well-known New England town meeting was testimony to their idea of self-government. They recognized no higher authority than the Bible, which was the basis of much of their antipathy to the hierarchical structureof the Roman Catholic church. Along with their congregational approach to community, they believed in individualism to the extent that everyone should be able to interpret the Bible for himself or herself. That reliance on the Bible had an obvious effect on education and literacy for the obvious reason that in order to interpret the Bible, one had to be able to read it. Teaching Puritan children toread was the mother's job, which in turn gave women a strong voice in family matters.

Second, while the principles above might suggest that Puritans enjoyed religious freedom, that freedom existed only within very strict limits. Their communal approach to society meant that the community had the right to exercise control over individuals tin order to promote the common interest. Thus rigid...
tracking img