Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Puritans on "Heart Religion," No. 2

From Charles Hambrick-Stowe, The Practice of Puritan Piety, 48-9:

Puritan iconoclasm stemmed from its deeper mythoclasm. The Puritan vanguard was dedicated to the destruction of an entire world view, a whole system of values and meaning woven from Roman liturgical forms and pagan religious traditions in their English manifestations. The clearest illustration of this "purification" process was the Puritan renunciation of the ecclesiastical year, ordered according to saint's days and local agricultural legends, a renunciation that one scholar referred to as "Puritan calendary iconoclasm." Economic and social as well as religious reasons motivated the shift to a weekly Sabbath and attack on the paganism of the maypole and the sports of holy days and Sabbaths. The result, however, was a major devotional disjunction with the Roman system of special days, which had been carried into the practice of the Church of England. Not a single saint's day survived the voyage to New England. Entirely new temporal patterns and rhythms emerged as Puritan spirituality developed and matured.

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