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.

Being denied access to the Word of God

My ancestors, the Puritans, have a reputation for being, uh, less than easy-going. In fact, they were pretty cranky. You might even go so far as to call them "Puritanical". And that would be in its purest sense. And they were angry because they had been denied access to the word of God.

Today we say, "What's the big deal? Anyone can pick up a Bible and read it." But my ancestors fought for that access, and won it.

And you may find me a bit "Puritanical", too, if the Word of God is something that you are chanting, without giving any thought to the meaning. Or if you are using words that make no sense to you. I like direct access to the Word of God, and if you have confused them with song lyrics, all I ask is that you step aside. And, of course, your answer is to "lighten up".

My family believed that there should be nothing standing between you and the Word of God. No priests, no strange language, nothing. The words should be in plain, modern language.

Blasphemy, you say? "The Word of God should always be in a mysterious language, such as Latin, and only priests should be allowed to read it." My family said, "no!" They wanted the Word of God to be available to them without the barriers that had existed for hundreds and hundreds of years.

It all started with the (then highly illegal) translation of the Bible into German. And by the time it was translated into English, the priests had a feeling that they might be out of a job soon, or at the very least, be told what to do.

My family did not want priests. They did not want ceremony. They wanted the Word of God. And learning to read, which my family has cherished for over 300 years, was that direct route.

The Reverend Hope Atherton
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