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.