Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

What Do We Owe the Puritans?

That’s the question that animates this smart little article.

Well, we can thank the Puritans for ABOLITIONISM, which lacked prudence but was morally admirable in its fiery devotion to justice. We can also thank them for a lot of our anti-Southern and anti-Catholic bigotry.

We can turn to Tocqueville, who finds in the Puritans the source of our idealism, egalitarianism, love of political life, concern for the unfortunate, and of what devotion we have to education for its own sake. Puritan laws, of course, were often ridiculous and tyrannical, and their lack of concern for individual liberty was an important downside of their communal intensity.

And what do we owe to our Southerners? Our Catholics? Not to mention Catholic Southerners such as Walker Percy and Flannery O’Connor.

(Thanks to the Friar...all this gets our mind off Huck, although not really.)

Discussions - 3 Comments

I'm reading about Cromwell right now. And he tried to integrate Roman Catholics into his "New Model Army."

As for damning Puritans for the anti-Catholic bigotry that racked early America, I'm not going to lay that at the feet of Puritanism per se. Wider Protestantism had to have something to "protest." Their religious differences were mostly contrived, which left them little else but the field of black legendry. And that's what you got then, and that's what you get today. An entire cult has developed around "the whore of Babylon," and "the 7 hilled city," {about the latter, they even got that wrong, Vatican Hill exists on the other side of the Tiber, and is NOT one of the 7 hills that made up Rome, but facts were never a sine qua non to the formulation of the black legends}. You still have people chirping about The Inquisition for instance, who know as much about it as they do the far side of the Moon.

And even "sola scriptura" is but another contrivance. The New Testament grew up within an EXISTING Church, and did not precede that Church. It was an existing hierarchy, an existing Church, that passed judgement on what would be included within the Canon. Not just is their privileging of the primitive Church heretical, it's inaccurate to boot. And a good number of them are beginning to suspect as much. And it's difficult not to perceive something has gone horribly wrong in wider Protestantism, when a new sect is created every 8 days. If every man is his own priest, then it's hardly a surprise that each "priest" would want to start his own flock. And the Protestants have always placed too much store by the sinful nature of the men within the Church itself. Christ himself had a Judas within the 12 he selected, but somehow generations afterwards, sinful men, without the abilities and the lights that Christ enjoyed, were somehow to be expected to maintain a crystal like purity in a growing Church. Expectations that no man could ever meet were expected from a Church that could never possibly deliver.

But all that being the case, Anglo-Americana would never have existed without Protestantism, and what kind of a world would we have without Great Britain, without Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and of course without good old Uncle Sam. So I can't bring myself to criticize Protestantism more than I have, simply because I deeply, passionately love my country, and am filled with a gratitude to an Almighty for bringing her into existence.

"O felix culpa."

"Oh happy fault that wrought for us so great a redeemer."

Likewise the errors of Protestantism, which can in retrospect be seen as "happy fault[s]" that brought forth for us, for the world, so great a country as the United States of America.

See also Paglia's new Arion piece.

I'd say we owe the puritans a lot for grounding us in a simple faith rather than a complex and dangerous ideology. While many have gone the way of secular reason which leads some astray, puritanism and its remains have kept America more focused.

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