Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Puritan Joy

Amy Henry, writing in The Wall Street Journal, suggests that the Puritans have gotten a bad rap over the years. I agree. They deserve more than a few toasts at Thanksgiving. An excerpt:

Contrary to the misconstrued Victorian concept of 'Puritanism,' an idea C.S. Lewis calls "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy," the original Puritans, serious as they were, embraced not only hard work, but the pursuit of joy. Lewis, opposed to this inaccurate view of the Puritans, would agree with writer, Richard Bernard, who said Christians "may be merry at their work, and merry at their meat." Thomas Gataker wrote that Satan was the one who would try to convince people that "in the kingdom of God there is nothing but sighing and groaning and fasting and prayer," but the truth was that "in his house there is . . . feasting and rejoicing." Lewis, further debunking the myth that Puritans never had fun, said "bishops, not beer, were their special aversion." The Puritans pursued joy, the very antithesis of depression, even in the midst of hardship, believing they were firmly in God's hand, not forgotten and never forsaken.


Harvey Morrell said...

I think the quote about puritanism was from H.L. Mencken, not Lewis.

Michael Wade said...


I think you're right. I mentioned that to my son and he recalled that Lewis may have been quoting Mencken. If so, the article should have made that clear.