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.

Purifying Christianity

When I started doing research on my family, the Puritans, like just about everyone else, I knew what *Puritanical* meant. That's the stereotypical *rigid rules, no fun* image of the Puritans. And, like the Quakers, who were described as *quaking at God*, it was a derogatory point of view. Interestingly enough, Quakers took possession of the name, but to the best of my knowledge, Puritans never called themselves Puritans.

When my family left England, in the 1630s, they were doing more than just moving away. They were interested in creating a new world, a new England. And, of course, anyone with such lofty goals becomes a target for ridicule. I mean, really, how do you purify Christianity?

Yes, they were optimistic about creating a new Jerusalem in the New World. Men like William Bradford, John Winthrop, and John Cotton weren't just looking for real estate. They wanted to try to start again, and maybe get it right this time. That their efforts essentially failed, as recorded by John Cotton's grandson Cotton Mather in the Magnalia Christi Americana, and was called the declension, was not surprising to anyone who has studied human nature.

Calling someone a *Puritan* implied that Christianity, as practiced, was impure. That's pretty insulting to people who have an established church, and believe strongly in it. In the United States, it has led to some terrible conflicts between Protestants and Catholics. Even between Protestants and Protestants.

The term *Puritan* went away, becoming Congregationalists, and today, your guess is as good as mine who the modern Puritans are. To me, I see the spirit in non-denominational churches, where there is an ongoing effort to strip away the *impurities* that two thousand years of Christianity has accumulated. Sure, go ahead and poke fun at people searching for truth, and hoping to understand the Word of God. It wouldn't be the first time.

Pictured, my ggggrandfather the Reverend Samuel Stone, who sailed with John Winthrop. He sought the Kingdom of God in the howling wilderness of the new world.
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