Thursday, February 11, 2010

Into the Wilderness

Christine Pyle has launched a new blog of interest to Puritan-minded readers: Into the Wilderness. Building on the title of a famous sermon by Samuel Danforth, A Brief Recognition of New-Englands Errand into the Wilderness, this blog focuses on the American Puritans and aims, during the course of a semester-long reading project, to answer certain questions:

What was most important to the Puritans? What was the nature of community and family interactions? How did the Puritans integrate spiritual values with the demands of day-to-day life? Why did some go to extremes? On the other hand, who achieved a balance…and how? What was the role of words—written and oral, prose and poetry—in their culture? What did they mean by calling their enterprise “an errand into the wilderness”?

This semester, I am doing a reading project to answer for myself—and for you—these and other questions.

First, I will examine a few sermons—what was the religious heart of the colonists’ mission? Next, I’ll move to Cotton Mather’s tremendous account, Magnalia Christi Americana. Along the way, I will incorporate modern commentary, e.g. Perry Miller. After a few delightful weeks of poetry, I’ll wrap up with personal journals (I am ever impressed by people who were faithful to write each day’s occurrences!). As I read, specific themes will emerge and I’ll have a clearer idea of which to pursue.

I invite you to read along with me; I think this blog will prove an interesting errand into the Puritan mind.

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