02 July 2016

Christian Sparta

The revolutionary generation who separated the American colonies from Britain and crafted a new nation managed to blend the secularism of the Enlightenment with Puritan Christianity into a consistent view of themselves, their needs, and the nature of government. At the heart of their views was the public interest. Gordon S. Wood explains in his seminal The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 (1969).
The traditional covenant theology of Puritanism combined with the political science of the eighteenth century into an imperatively persuasive argument for revolution. Liberal rationalist sensibility blended with Calvinist Christian love to create an essentially common emphasis on the usefulness and goodness of devotion to the general welfare of the community. Religion and republicanism would work hand in hand to create frugality, honesty, self-denial, and benevolence among the people.
Wood, Creation, 118.
One almost gets the impression that Wood had been listening to The Youngbloods while writing this book. In 1969, their version of "Get Together" peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now
Chet Powers, "Get Together" (1964)
Maybe he was listening to The Kingston Trio who first brought the song to the attention of the public several years earlier.

For Wood, this view of the blending of Puritanism and eighteenth century rationalism embodied the hope that America could become what Samuel Adams called "the Christian Sparta".
I love the People of Boston. I once thought, that City would be the Christian Sparta. But Alas! Will men never be free! They will be free no longer than while they remain virtuous.
Samuel Adams to John Scollay, 30 Dec. 1780
Republican virtue meant shunning luxury and privilege. The common good took precedence over individual ambitions.

No comments:

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP