JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: SOME INTERESTING HISTORY OF PURITANISM IN AMERICA – IT EXPLAINS A LOT OF TODAY’S WARS AND BELLIGERENCE AND CLOSED-MINDEDNESS – THEY WEREN’T QUITE THE NICE FOLKS A BENIGN NAME LIKE “PILGRIMS” SUGGESTS   3 comments

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY ALASTAIR CROOKE IN RUSSIA INSIDER

 

‘Will Israel-Loving Evangelicals Spur the US to War? Russia Is Taking Precautions’

 

https://russia-insider.com/en/will-israel-loving-evangelicals-spur-us-war-russia-taking-precautions/ri26836

 

Scary stuff, and well said as usual for Alastair Crooke.

“80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016, and his popularity amongst them remains high – in the 70s percent”

This seems a great puzzle. How can such strict, traditionally-minded people, when it comes to morals, support so enthusiastically this extremely crude man, a man who appears to be utterly without ethics or morals or any principle beyond his own survival?

I do think Mr. Crooke’s examination of “rapture” thinking offers at least a partial answer.

There is, unfortunately, little rationality in the basic beliefs of people who can embrace such thinking, just as there is little rationality in people who are always out to damage or hurt others, as by wars and coups and dirty tricks. But that such people exist, and in large numbers, is undeniable.

Things become very mixed up with such influence.

Not a lot of people will be aware that America, during the 18th and 19th centuries, experienced what were called three “Great Awakenings.” These were almost hysterical mass movements in fundamentalist religion.

I’ve always attributed at least a part of America’s nastiness to the Puritans who migrated there in substantial numbers in the 17th and 18th centuries. The American Puritans, over time, morphed into a number of Protestant sects and denominations.

America calls them “the Pilgrims,” people who were fleeing religious persecution in Europe. It associates them in a highly positive way with the Thanksgiving holiday and with many good qualities.

But what the Pilgrims really represented was a group of intense extremists who made themselves unwelcome in England and on parts of the Continent owing to their religious intolerance and truly ugly behavior.

They already were something of a problem in Queen Elizabeth the Great’s day during the 16th century, one which grew during the 17th century. Their extremism, which played an important role in the so-called English Revolution, became a serious problem.

They had obnoxious practices such as barging in and deliberately disturbing the religious services of other, more traditional Christians, such as regular Church of England. They felt this crude behavior was justified by their having the true faith while all others were false.

They also were responsible for considerable damage to the art and relics of the great ancient English Cathedrals with their ugly rampages through them, running inside smashing and breaking things, justifying themselves by the same concept of their having the true faith and hating the idolatry represented by the cathedrals.

So, this was an important core group in Colonial America, and people of this kind had considerable influence on early American institutions and laws and education. They made for what I view as a very pernicious heritage, one that still can be felt in America.

The “friendly” view of their influence, the view that dominates in America, is one that emphasizes matters like their support for public education. Puritans had always thought it important that every individual should be able to read the Word of God.

Unfortunately, this positive belief in education was intimately mingled with vicious anti-Catholicism. The Puritans back in England despised Catholicism and their contempt for the “high” Church of England, Queen Elizabeth the Great’s church, was about its being too Catholic. Echoes of this are heard to this day in Northern Ireland and were the root of “the troubles” in the 1960s.

Anti-Catholicism, as few Americans understand, was actually one of the key motivators for the American Revolution. It most certainly was not all about freedom and rights. Britain, as part of reforms to try halting the predation of Colonial Americans on western Indian lands, had put parts of the colonies under the administration of Quebec province. Well, that caused the same kind of explosion of hatreds we saw in the 1960s in Northern Ireland with “the troubles.”

Americans, as is not widely known, for decades after the Revolution, followed the annual practice of burning the Pope in effigy on Guy Fawkes Day. Old hatreds die very hard.

The best comparison I can make for what America has experienced with the Puritans, accurate in a great many respects, are today’s ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, a people whose extreme behaviors keep all kinds of civil strife and disturbances going and a people who have little respect for the views and religious practices of others. And note that Israel’s ultra-Orthodox have an influence on the country far beyond their numbers. Their noise and violence and political minority parties become part of every Israeli government because Israel’s fractured political system demands coalitions to form a government.

I often think we are, in so many things, the victims of genealogy. Our behaviors in many things are not governed by rational thought and a desire to make things better, but by drives to change and dominate others, drives inherited in our genes.

Now, I’m certainly not saying that all Americans are like that, but enough of them are, and Americans in influential political and cultural positions. Since the re-creation of Israel, they have had some powerful allies in Zionist-oriented Jews in America, again a minority but quite significant.

So, I do believe this history explains many of the attitudes we see in America today, the belligerence, the belief in there being only one truth, the intense self-righteousness of the John Bolton types. By the way, descent from a Pilgrim family in America is widely held to be a genuine distinction, equivalent to descent from a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

America has many such distinctions, all involving a kind of aristocratic attitude foreigners might not expect to find in America. There are organizations like the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy plus a number of others that all involve and value family descent.

This tendency goes back to the earliest times of the Republic with the Society of the Cincinnati in George Washington’s time, an organization that inspired a good deal of fear and concern in others. America is also characterized by the widespread embrace of fraternal organizations. There are dozens of different ones, but some of the most important confer distinction on their members.

Posted April 23, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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