Background Probability

The Agnostic Popular Front has moved to its new home at Skeptic Ink, and will henceforth be known as Background Probability. Despite the relocation and rebranding, we will continue to spew the same low-fidelity high-quality bullshit that you've come to expect.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Of Plymouth, Puritanism, and Pluralism

The Opinions (Right or Wrong) of Lee Malatesta: Freedom of Religion in the Myth of the Pilgrims

My old friend Lee has written up an insightful post on the tension inherent between the religious devotion of Puritanism and the ethics of religious pluralism and liberty of conscience, in which he debunks yet another bit of patriotic mythmaking, one usually directed as those whom we do not deign to disabuse of certain happy notions peculiar to the young and inexperienced.

I have no criticisms (which may come as a shock to Lee) and only three useful notes to add:
  • Of Plymouth Plantation is available in full at Google Books. Enjoy!
  • An Underground Education by Richard Zacks has a relatively concise overview of religious persecution practiced by the Puritans, starting on page 228.
  • Martha Nussbaum on Roger Williams. A far more worthy figure upon which to construct a national myth of religious liberty is, of course, Roger Williams. This podcast is a lecture from an eminent scholar at the University of Chicago Law School, in which she explains the roots of our distinctively American tradition of religious liberty for all citizens.

1 comment:

Lee Malatesta said...

I picked up /Of Plymouth Plantation/ based on a list of thirteen books that helped shape the US by Jay Parini. It's an interesting list, starting with Bradford and moving forward to Friedan's /The Feminine Mystique/. I ended up blogging on the religious freedom bit simply because it jumped out at me while reading. There are other interesting bits in it as well, such as Bradford's argument for why Christian ministers should /not/ perform marriages as there is no warrant for such in the Bible and such matters clearly lie within the purview of the state rather than the church.

I'm not really surprised you have no criticisms. There isn't much there to criticize except for my horrible writing style. I tend to be obtuse and long-winded. Regardless, it's not an especially substantial piece and mostly just presents what Bradford wrote.