Puritan Beliefs/Values Theocracy: combined church & government; church ruled all Zealous reformers: left church of England for religious freedom due to persecution but ironically believed the Church of England was not strict enough; fanatics on a “concrete path” (tolerated no deviation; could be punished by law – even executed - or ostracized for spiritual misdeeds; no holidays, always praying, worship in free time; moral purity to the smallest detail!) No individual freedoms (everything is done for the good of and to unify the community & eliminate other ideologies that threaten existence; grounded in exclusion); work together as one No privacy: it is one’s duty to spy on neighbors & report them if deviating from spiritual path/sinning God is omnipotent (all-powerful) & omniscient (all-knowing; is aware of your actions & intentions!) Dualism: a person is made up of two parts, the body (physical) & spirit (mental). The body/physical is inferior.
Puritan Beliefs/Values Continued… Total Depravity/Concept of Original Sin: Human beings are naturally evil (due to Adam & Eve’s fall from grace, i.e. infant damnation) & must overcome their sinful nature. Sin is in our nature, & we will most likely succumb to it. Absolutism (no degrees of good and evil; a person is either all good or all bad) Bible is the supreme authority All pleasures, such as dancing, music & chanting, theater, and non-Biblical literature (entertainment) belong to Satan! The forest is the devil’s home base (& also the Native Americans live there… racism & hatred dehumanize them so won’t survive) Poverty, not wealth, is a sin Virtues (the good stuff): prudence (caution), thrift, hard work (slaves to the East Coast land – produce food or die! Working is also good for maintaining moral standing), courage, self- reliance, moderation Private property & mercantile enterprise should be sanctioned (authorized) Extremely superstition & believed heavily in the presence of both God, the devil, and demons/witches in an “invisible world”
Puritan Beliefs/Values Continued… Irresistible Grace: God’s grace is freely given & cannot be earned/denied Backsliding: people should try to fight their sinful natures but likely that saved believers can fall to temptation and become sinners again because Satan loves the virtuous the most Unconditional Election: God saves those he wishes to (the “elect”). God saves only his chosen, which are few (predestined) Limited Atonement: Jesus only died for the chosen “elect,” not for everyone. Perseverance of the Saints: those elected by God have the full power to interpret the will of God and live uprightly Emphasis on obedience versus fondness (obedience is godliness, children expected to be obedient – no toys or games because create idleness, no affection for kids before age 2 to “break their will”) Patriarchy: women are inferior & subservient to men (based on Old Testament in Bible with Eve as the 1 st sinner; therefore, women more likely to be sinful/lustful), so wealth/property went to husband upon marriage and most “witches” were land owning women (widows/unmarried) because it was an easy way to get land/money/power; thus, extreme Biblical patriarchy fueled witch hunts
Tools of Control Fear/Threats of punishment (corporeal punishment, execution, etc.) Guilt & Shame Results Oppression & pressure becomes overbearing/too heavy own pursuits become more interesting than working for the community; want personal freedom rebellion against singular purpose witch hunt
Downfall THEOCRACY: Church ruled all, even capital punishment for spiritual misdeeds Public persecution & trials Religious leaders also political and official leaders (law enforcement…) Inflexible: fled persecution only to persecute with fervor themselves Scientific growth Urbanization & immigration: growing American diversity
Puritan Writing *Puritan writing reflected the nature of the reading public, which was literate. TYPES Travel journals Personal or spiritual diaries Sermons Lectures Historical accounts Poetry PURPOSES/FUNCTION Instructive/didactic (teach about God), typically with a plain style To glorify God & make the mysterious God more relevant (He is so great and separate from humans that they must try to understand his “great mystery”) ; to focus on an omnipotent (all- powerful) God who is one’s salvation To reinforce the authority of the Bible & Church To examine/explore inner & outer lives for signs of the workings of God No reading for fun and little to no fiction THEMES Idealism (religious & political) Pragmatism (practicality) STYLE Protestant: no flowery language/ “ornateness” (too sinful)
Major Players (Writers) Jonathan Edwards (sermon: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Anne Bradstreet (poetry: “Verses Upon the Burning of Our House,” “The Flesh and the Spirit”)