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Puritan Thought and Culture - Essay Example

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The purpose of this culture essay example is to define some of the fundamental concepts of Puritan thought and culture, particularly literature, and examine how the centrality of religion operates in the works of Edward Taylor, Michael Wigglesworth, and Anne Bradstreet. …
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Puritan Thought and Culture
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Download file to see previous pages One of the most well established aspects of Puritan thought and culture are theocracy or governance by religious authority. Another core Puritan concept relates to covenant theory. According to this, all social relationships whether between man and God, between a group of people and ministers, or between an individual and his family, were considered as contracts based on consent and mutual responsibilities. The covenant is basically contradictory in nature, reflecting the general contradictions of Puritan society. The Puritan covenant and the later social contract theory were related to religion. Evidently, Puritan communities “required a social structure that enabled social unity and embodied divine will”. Social cohesion required a theocracy; and God’s will necessitated political power to be intolerant.
Opposing political authority was considered to be equal to opposing God. Dissent whether religious or ostensibly political was a key threat to possible social organization, since God is the invisible basis for social unity and order. Further, in the Puritan perspective, humans after the Fall from the Grace of God, required strict and precise guidance from divine authority regarding social, political and religious behavior. Intolerance in Puritan theocracy relates to general social and political ideals such as that of freedom. Moral or civil freedom that pertains particularly to human beings complies with divine law; it sets the limits to the exercise of natural freedom of living according to one’s inclination. ...
Further, in the Puritan perspective, humans after the Fall from the Grace of God, required strict and precise guidance from divine authority regarding social, political and religious behavior. Intolerance in Puritan theocracy relates to general social and political ideals such as that of freedom. Moral or civil freedom that pertains particularly to human beings complies with divine law; it sets the limits to the exercise of natural freedom of living according to one’s inclination. This Puritan view of human nature is based on the Scriptures, where “prior to the Fall, Adam and Eve had no limits to the exercise of their freedom” (Ryder 12), that is, natural and moral freedom coincided for them. With the arrival of sin and the Fall, natural freedom was equated to an instrument of the Devil. Conversely, civil or moral freedom is bound by law and firmly fixed in the covenant between God and man. Additionally, the messianism of Puritanism, or its self-image of building God’s kingdom on earth are evident in the concepts of exceptionalism and uniqueness, which continue to be a part of American ideology and civil religion. Thus, the Puritans’ messianism, their religious intolerance, social covenant, political institutions, rights, freedom and democracy are all based on religion. Further, the class differentiation of Puritan society is seen in all aspects of Puritan theocracy (Ryder 8,9). The Poetic Works of Selected Puritans Edward Taylor (1642-1729), New England Puritan, poet, farmer, physician and spiritual as well as community leader considered his aesthetic poetry to be utilitarian in supporting his spiritual life. For example, each of his “Preparatory Meditations” written every month for forty-three years was intended to prepare him ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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