This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

What being rich is to the Puritans

My family, of course, has never been rich, not really. And while my family has never been really poor, it certainly would never stand for being described as rich. It would be an attack on their faith to describe them that way.

The Puritans believed that "a camel would be able to pass through the eye of a needle sooner than a rich person would be able to go to heaven". In other words, rich people can't go to heaven. It's that simple. They followed the teachings of Jesus Christ, who told them to give away all earthly things and to follow him. Clearly Christianity was not a religion for the wealthy. And so living with that type of faith, and still having a roof over your head, and caring for your family, became a question of defining being rich.

And being rich came to mean less than the amount of money you have in the bank, which could be considerable, and more about how you chose to spend that money. The Puritans, like Christians today, were not foolish enough to literally throw away all of their earthly belongings to follow Jesus. If that had really been a requirement to be a Christian, then Christianity would not have lasted for over 2,000 years.

To understand The Puritans, and Christians in general, you have to understand the world of 2,000 years ago, in The Roman Empire. It was indeed a time of wealth for the Romans. The lifestyle of many of the wealthy in the empire was, in the opinion of Christians, decadent and wasteful. It was a flaunting wealth, a wealth that showed disrespect both for people and God. And that, to this day, is what wealth looks like to my family.

A comfortable home and wholesome food on the table is not being rich. A Ferrari, and bottles of Champagne is being rich. Having money in the bank is not being rich, if it is properly and safely invested. Having great big wads of cash in your pocket, ready to spend at a moment's notice, is being rich. In America, and especially around Boston, some my family members became incredibly wealthy, but they were never rich.
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