Monday, November 11, 2013

Who Were the Pilgrims?

This post is more or less a follow up on the previous post concerning my voter's dilemma. When running an errand I, in a fit of boredom, turned on the radio and heard a few minutes of Rush Limbaugh's show. The American pundit has recently released a children's book called Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims. A caller, in tears, thanked Limbaugh for his vague use of divine "providence" and "God" at a point in the story line when one character on the Mayflower falls overboard. Mr. Limbaugh then launched into the conventional buncombe, so familiar to Americans, about how America was originally a Christian nation and gave a short lesson on the persecution of the "God-fearing" pilgrims at the hands of the "King." This is romantic rubbish!
The "pilgrims" were a group of mad Englishmen called Puritans, a wicked sect of Protestantism descended from the very worst theology of John Calvin. Their worship was horrid, some Biblical lections in a stark and barren church; iconoclasm was rife in the Isles in those days. Moreover their time in England was an unmitigated disaster for the country. Their influence exploded in the early 17th century during the English Civil War under Oliver Cromwell, who, upon ceasing power, proceeded to cut off King Charles' head and enable the same to happen to poor William Laud. They overhauled the Anglican Church, further alienating it from Apostolic origins than Elizabeth and Cranmer previously had done, damaging many beautiful temples along the way. Even after their downfall, Puritans still had some deleterious influence in England. The restoration of Charles II and the deposition of James II, his son, meant that the sovereign of England would effectively be given his power not by God, but by the judgment of Parliament, a tremendous paradigm shift in English identity.
By the time all this disastrous excitement took place in England, many Puritans had gone off to found settlements in North America. The aftermath of the Cromwell affair illustrates exactly why these "pilgrims" wound up in America. English authorities, still reeling from the upheaval of Henry VIII and Elizabeth, were far too wise to entertain the mad sentiments and whims of a sect that wished to carry England's religious reforms even further, upsetting the government, the family, and society at large. So they were sent packing. It pains many to realize America was founded by religious riffraff and tax-dodgers.


  1. I have long regarded the self-styled 'puritans' as being synonymous with hypocrisy. Cromwell, O. made great play of examining his conscience before acting, but strangely, always found a scriptural precedent for doing what was best for Oliver.

    He had the nerve to call Charles I 'the man of blood' for trying not to lose the civil war, before himself going on to massacre the Christians of Drogheda and Wexford in a genocidal way.
    The terms are anachronistic but he was identifiably a racist and certainly a 'war crininal'.

  2. John calvin ? Never heard of him. I have heard of a deranged French lawyer with no theological training called Jehan Cauvin. Cauvinisme doesn't quite have the same ring. Or does it?

    The protestant method was to ignore the existing Church, which was too messy and complicated for liberal purists, declare Year Zero and start again by reading just the Scriptures, not the Fathers still less the magisterium. Then they would redesign a new church from these texts as if 'blueprints'.

    This method has the same intellectual validity as the Jane Austen Society reading the novels and then trying to go back in time and live in them: eat the food, put up the wallpaper (as nice as that sounds) wear the clothes, hold a party and dress up some more.

    This is why protestantism is not the Church. But some think it looks like it comes quite close.