Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sarah Vowell and Our Puritan Ancestors

I've written here in the past about how much I love the work of Sarah Vowell. Like many of her fans, I got to know her from public radio's This American Life, and then I picked up one of her books and there was no turning back. She's got a new book out, The Wordy Shipmates, which is about the original Puritans who came to what would become Massachusetts and their continuing influence on American identity and culture.

Not only did the Puritans give us the idea that America could be "a city on a hill" chosen by God to demonstrate to the world what godliness looks like, they also gave us, through their policy of regularly sending all dissenters into exile, the idea of separation of church and state thanks to Roger Williams. Puritans also helped embed in the American psyche the idea that God intends for some to be rich and others to be poor, therefore there is no need to worry about the poor very much.

These concepts and many others are incredibly pertinent to our culture. I haven't picked up a copy yet, but I soon will. I guarantee that Vowell will cover this part of our shared history in her trademark hilariously wry yet reverent manner.

Vowell was on NPR's Talk of the Nation today sharing some of her insights--well worth a listen.

Grace and Peace,


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