For some reason lately Puritans keep showing up at my house.  First it was Little Bit’s current favorite movie, Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost.  (Side note: I recently saw a bumper sticker that said “What Would Scooby Doo?”)  In the movie those meddling kids visit a kitschy New England attraction called Puritan Village.  The ghost of a “healing woman” who was executed for witchery back when they did that stuff is haunting the village.  This time it does not turn out to be a carnival operator in a cheesy mask, but a real ghost.  And is she pissed. 


Not to worry, an honest-to-god Wiccan is on the scene to read the magic spell and send witch woman back to the grave.  So I guess the Puritans were right about her after all.


Then Tigger and I read I, Coriander.  (Side note: I often borrow and read Tigger’s books.  Not because I’m too brain dead at the end of the day to read a grown-up book (ok, that too), but because I like to know what she’s feeding her brain.  And she reads some great stuff.)  The narrator lives in 17th century London surrounded by, you guessed it, Puritans.  They execute King Charles and put the execrable Oliver Cromwell in charge.  And Coriander’s new Puritan step-mother sucks all the joy out of her life, because apparently Puritans found joy, beauty, and other good stuff objectionable to Jesus, who they expected would be returning any minute now.  (I’ll leave the commentary on that point to you.)


The mother/daughter book club Tigger and I attend assigned The Witch of Blackbird Pond, so we are both reading that now.  This narrator loses the grandfather who raised her in Barbados and travels to Connecticut to live with her Aunt and Uncle.  The year: 1687.  Yeah.  Puritans.  These people entertain themselves by harassing an elderly woman because she’s (gasp) a Quaker.  You just never know what sort of devilment a Quaker’s going to get up to.


But wait, there’s more.  At breakfast yesterday Little Bit looked at the cereal box on the table and asked “What does ‘Quaker’ mean?”


“It’s a kind of Christianity,” Tigger told her.


“What’s Christianity?” Little Bit asked.


“It’s a religion,” her sister replied.


“What’s religion?” 


Apparently I’ve not been attending to my cultural literacy responsibilities with this kid.  Tigger gave up and left it to me to explain.


“It’s um, a set of things people believe because they’ve been taught to believe them, not because there’s any proof that those things are true.”


From dictionary.com:

a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.


That’s more eloquent than what I said.  Next time I’ll tell her to look it up.


Next on the reading list: Pilgrim’s Progress.






11 thoughts on “PURE AS NEW YORK SNOW

  1. Your definition of religion is probably easier for a seven-year-old to understand (though it doesn’t explain religious conversion).  I’m not sure even I followed that dictionary entry.
    When I was in college I read an article explaining Puritans weren’t nearly as uptight as they’re portrayed.  Except for the whole witch-hunting thing, of course.  Actually, the article was more about Puitan attitudes toward sex, now that I think about it.  Apparently they were really into the sex. witchcraft not so much.
    I’ve always liked that Scooby Doo bumper sticker.  Of course, I’ve always been fond of the Darwin fish, too.

  2. I’m very impressed with the quality of the books Tigger is reading.  Hopefully she will never discover romance novels!  I’d still rather read a mystery than anything else…shallow, shallow, shallow!

  3. Well, now you’ve piqued my curiousity on the Puritans, as I have a difficult time wrapping my brain around the concept that beauty and joy could be offensive. I guess I have some reading to do, too! Lisa

  4. I prefer the Evelyn style of religion. As an Evelynist, I don’t have to pray, or tithe, or proselytize. All I have to do is what looks and sounds like fun. A fun religion? That’ll never wash with all the guilt ridden types in the world today. Probably why Evelynism has never really taken off.

    Great post, as usual.

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