Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30, 2012

In Defense of the Puritans

In my post of May 01, I mentioned the long-told tale of English Puritans banning Christmas. Today I decided to take a look at how the Puritans were perceived, why they did the things they did, and how others viewed their decisions. Christmas was not all the Puritans disliked. (And, of course, their dislike of the holiday had nothing to do with it being the birth of Christ but rather with the all-out merriment fest it had become). They also hated sports. But why? Think about it. Scantily-clad youths running around tackling each other, giving the women more of a show than they bargained for! And it got worse.

In 1618 King James published the “Declaration of Sports,” which cheered the practice of young men letting out pent-up energy by playing around on Sunday. Puritans had long been defenders of the Sabbath. Remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy did not involve youngsters wrestling and screaming on the church lawn as they had done in the Middle Ages. One might be tempted to discredit the Puritans for decrying theater and dance as well. Many Christian communities still frown on dancing due to personal contact. And theater? In the 1600s, when the female populace had made a trend of dressing immodestly and carrying such fashions into theater, it would hardly have been Christian to support such a pastime.

The Anglicans and Lutherans who also called England home were not too pleased with these “troublemaking” Puritans and their strict laws. Whether or not they even considered them fellow Protestants, I have no idea. The Puritans viewed the Anglicans, at least, as not having gone far enough in the Reformation. Many people talk glowingly (and with great relief) about the time when somber Puritanism was banished as the law of the land and the partying style of the “English Restoration” went off again in full swing. “Normalcy” was cherished and Puritans were mocked and scorned as fun-hating, somberly-dressed wretches. I do not ascribe to Puritan beliefs, but I find this sad . . . and unfair. But, as the saying goes, “the victor writes the history”!

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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