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Discuss if the Puritan “New England Way” was too tough.

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aman12 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted June 16, 2012 at 10:18 PM via web

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Discuss if the Puritan “New England Way” was too tough.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 17, 2012 at 12:36 AM (Answer #1)

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I would say that the "New England Way" of Puritanism was tough, and impossible to legislate.  Part of this comes from the idea of being able to collapse moral and spiritual behavior into a legal framework.  I feel that this is very difficult to sustain over a period of time in a social and political setting.  The Puritanical method of seeking to create a covenant between the divine and the political realm is rooted in the idea that morality and spiritual conduct can be legislated.  This becomes difficult at its most foundational level.  The question that the "New England Way" brings into focus, whether or not the Puritans realized it, is whether or not laws and policies can be made to reflect the spiritual worship and fervor of the divine.  Can the public realm be made to mirror the private one?  This becomes critical.  Part of the reason that people like Williams and Hutchinson were banished from it is because of raising legitimate questions about the nature of such a desire.  In this, the "New England Way" was tough, and perhaps too tough, if only because mandating, enforcing, and ensuring that its ideas are being followed were extremely difficult to control.  Such difficulty was revealed in events such as the Salem Witch Trial where politics and spirituality were revealed to be in conflict with one another as individuals used the latter to drive the former, and in doing so, helped to reveal the hypocrisy in both and, thus, in the "New England Way."

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