Who Were The Puritans?

The roots of Puritanism are to be found in the beginnings of the English Reformation. The name “Puritans” (they were sometimes called “precisionists”) was a term of contempt assigned to the movement by its enemies. Although the epithet first emerged in the 1560s, the movement began in the 1530s, when King Henry VIII repudiated papal authority and transformed the Church of Rome into a state Church of England. To Puritans, the Church of England retained too much of the liturgy and ritual of Roman Catholicism.

Well into the 16th century, many priests were barely literate and often very poor. Employment by more than one parish was common, so they moved often, preventing them from forming deep roots in their communities. Priests were immune to certain penalties of the civil law, further feeding anticlerical hostility and contributing to their isolation from the spiritual needs of the people.

In the early decades of the 17th century, some groups of worshipers began to separate themselves from the main body of their local parish church where preaching was inadequate and to engage an energetic “lecturer,” typically a young man with a fresh Cambridge degree, who was a lively speaker and steeped in reform theology. Some congregations went further, declared themselves separated from the national church, and remade themselves into communities of “visible saints,” withdrawn from the English City of Man into a self-proclaimed City of God.

One such faction was a group of separatist believers in the Yorkshire village of Scrooby, who, fearing for their safety, moved to Holland in 1608 and then, in 1620, to the place they called Plymouth in New England. We know them now as the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock. A decade later, a larger, better-financed group, mostly from East Anglia, migrated to Massachusetts Bay. There, they set up gathered churches on much the same model as the transplanted church at Plymouth (with deacons, preaching elders, and, though not right away, a communion restricted to full church members, or “saints”).

The main difference between the Pilgrims and the Puritans is that the Puritans did not consider themselves separatists. They called themselves “nonseparating congregationalists,” by which they meant that they had not repudiated the Church of England as a false church. But in practice they acted–from the point of view of Episcopalians and even Presbyterians at home–exactly as the separatists were acting. 

By the 1640s, their enterprise at Massachusetts Bay had grown to about 10,000 people. They soon outgrew the bounds of the original settlement and spread into what would become Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine, and eventually beyond the limits of New England.

The Puritan migration was overwhelmingly a migration of families (unlike other migrations to early America, which were composed largely of young unattached men). The literacy rate was high, and the intensity of devotional life, as recorded in the many surviving diaries, sermon notes, poems, and letters, was seldom to be matched in American life.

The Puritans’ ecclesiastical order was as intolerant as the one they had fled. Yet, as a loosely confederated collection of gathered churches, Puritanism contained within itself the seed of its own fragmentation. Following hard upon the arrival in New England, dissident groups within the Puritan sect began to proliferate–Quakers, Antinomians, Baptists–fierce believers who carried the essential Puritan idea of the aloneness of each believer with an inscrutable God so far that even the ministry became an obstruction to faith.

Puritanism gave Americans a sense of history as a progressive drama under the direction of God, in which they played a role akin to, if not prophetically aligned with, that of the Old Testament Jews as a new chosen people.

Perhaps most important, as Max Weber profoundly understood, was the strength of Puritanism as a way of coping with the contradictory requirements of Christian ethics in a world on the verge of modernity. It supplied an ethics that somehow balanced charity and self-discipline. It counseled moderation within a psychology that saw worldly prosperity as a sign of divine favor. Such ethics were particularly urgent in a New World where opportunity was rich, but the source of moral authority obscure.

Source: history.com

The Chained Books of Hereford Cathedral (Hereford, Herefordshire – Great Britain)

The Chained Books of Hereford Cathedral (Hereford, Herefordshire – Great Britain)

This cathedral contains two medieval marvels: a chained library of rare books and one of the earliest maps of the world.

In the Middle Ages, before the availability of the printing press, volumes on law and religion were quite rare and valuable. To protect against theft, the books at Hereford Cathedral were chained to desks, pulpits, and study tables.

The chained library was created in 1611 when a collection of hand-transcribed, hand-bound books was moved into the Lady Chapel. Most of the volumes in the collection are acquisitions dating back to the 1100s, although the oldest book in the collection, the Hereford Gospels, dates to about the year 800.

The medieval world map stored at Hereford Cathedral depicts three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. On the as-yet-unexplored periphery of these lands roam fire-breathing dragons, dog-faced men, people who survive on only the scent of apples, and the Monocoli, a race of mythical beings who take shade under their giant feet when the sun becomes too bright.

The 5 × 4.5-foot map (1.5 × 1.4 m), created around 1300, is part geography, part history, and part religious teaching aid. A lack of confirmed information on Asian and African geography presented no obstacle for the mapmaker, who used hearsay, mythology, and imagination to fill in the gaps—which explains the four-eyed Ethiopians.

Sources: Atlas Obscura

Joan of Arc Beatified

On this day in 1909 Joan of Arc was beatified (Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a deceased person’s entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name), nearly 500 years after her execution; which is somewhat coy of the Vatican when viewed in the light of recent fast-tracking of saintly candidates.

Regardless of the supernatural elements of her story, she remains an interesting historical character. Quite how a teenage peasant girl in the early years of the 15th century managed to convince a garrison commander and then the uncrowned king of France Charles VII that she could lead an army against English forces remains to this day a mystery shrouded in legendary tales.

#JoanOfArc #Beatificatio

St. George’s Monastery (West Bank, Palestine)

St. George’s Monastery (West Bank, Palestine)

Clinging to a cliff on the edge of the Wadi Qelt gorge is a Greek Orthodox monastery that’s endured many centuries of turmoil and destruction.

The original monastery was founded in the 5th century by a group of cave-dwelling hermits. They chose the site because it was located next to the cave where the prophet Elijah is said to have been fed by ravens during the 9th century BCE.

A Persian invasion in the 7th century drove out the hermits and left the monastery in ruins. Around 500 years later, Crusaders rebuilt St. George’s, only to be driven from the site following the Islamic re-conquest of Jerusalem.

The late 19th century saw St. George’s restored once again. The monastery is now home to two churches, a small group of Greek Orthodox monks, and the tombs of the five hermits who got the whole thing started.

A 15-minute drive from St. George’s is the Mount of Temptation—so named because, according to the Bible, it is the place where Jesus was tempted by the devil. This mountain has its own cliffside monastery, established in the 6th century, which has only a single permanent resident. There is also a nearby collection of hermit caves—some of which are said to still occasionally be inhabited by ascetic monks.

Source: Atlas Obscura

Wieliczka Salt Mine (Wieliczka, Poland)

The salt mine’s Chapel of St. Kinga features chandeliers made of salt.

Wieliczka Salt Mine (Wieliczka, Poland)

Miners at Wieliczka carved its rock salt deposits without interruption from the 13th century until the 1990s. Over the centuries, workers slowly turned the seven-level subterranean mine into a majestic salt city replete with life-size rock salt sculptures of saints, biblical wall reliefs, and tableaus depicting their daily lives.

In the early 1900s, the workers undertook their most ambitious project: an underground church named after Kinga, the patron saint of salt miners. The 331-foot-deep (101 m) St. Kinga’s Chapel features a sculpture of Christ on the cross, depictions of scenes from the New Testament, a wall relief of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and two altars. All are carved from salt. Hanging from the ceiling are five chandeliers that miners crafted by dissolving salt, removing its impurities, and reconstituting it into crystals as clear as glass.

Another memorable sight on the tour is the placid subterranean lake in the Józef Piłsudski Chamber, softly lit and overseen by a statue of Saint John Nepomucene—the patron saint of drowning. Take a moment of reflection before you bundle into a small, dark miners’ cage with five other people for the long ascent back to the surface.

Source: Atlas Obscura

Bayboro Community -St. Petersburg, Florida

“Faith expressly signifies the deep, strong, blessed restlessness that drives the believer forward so that he cannot settle down… A believer cannot sit still as one sits with a pilgrim’s staff in one’s hand. A believer travels forward.”

~ Soren Kierkegaard

  • Status: Established
  • Started Planning:2006
  • Started Living Together: 2006
  • Visitors Accepted:Yes
  • Open to New Members: Yes
  • Shared Income: All or Close to All

About: We are a small, relatively new community – a mix of families with small children, singles, and college students – in an urban coastal neighborhood on Tampa Bay. We founded this location at a time when we were seeking different expressions of communal living, and being in the South and on the coast is a new experience for us. The students living with us attend various area schools, including the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg; St. Petersburg College; and Pinellas Technical College.

Bayboro House, the first Bruderhof in Florida, is right on Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg. Founded in 2006, Bayboro is home to about twenty-five people, including university students, families, and children.

Setting: We have a large waterfront house that serves as our main accommodation and gathering space. Built in 1905, it features deep porches where we can sit and look at the bay. The lot, which is flat and has beautiful tropical landscaping, has six other smaller buildings. Though our house is on the coast, we are very much a part of our wider urban community.

Connecting with Neighbors: Friends and neighbors often drop by for visits throughout the week. Each month we help sponsor a meeting for many of the families in our area to discuss neighborhood issues. We reach out to the diverse faith communities here and have lively discussions about faith and how to put it into practice.

Point of Interest: We get to see a beautiful sunrise every morning, and we enjoy nearly 365 days of sunshine a year. You’ll often find us boating or kayaking on the bay, and we like to catch our own fish and seafood to eat.

Faith: Christian. We practice adult baptism. We are also pacifists and conscientious objectors. While we love our countries and countrymen, our faith transcends political and nationalistic affiliations.

Website: https://www.bruderhof.com/en/where-we-are/united-states/bayboro