Thursday, March 5, 2009


Ian Clary at Discerning Reader, in an informative review, recommends Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were by Leland Ryken. The book responds to the usual — incorrect — stereotypes of the Puritans:
The Puritans are victims of historical libel both at academic and popular levels. They have been accused of being workaholic prudes who hated women, sex, sports or any kind of fun. They were allegedly arch-capitalists who strove to enter heaven by the sweat of their brow without concern for those in a condition lower than their own. Because of their emphasis on experience, it is said, they were mystical, anti-intellectual, anti-rationalists who devalued the content of the faith. Yet, oddly enough, they were Calvinists of the strongest sort who over-intellectualized the Bible by applying a rigid logic to it.

In this book, Ryken takes such stereotypes and pulverizes them into dust. On topics such as work, marriage, sex, money, family, the church, education, and social action, Ryken demonstrates over and over again that the Puritans were not who their critics say they were. With copious quotations from a wide variety of English and American Puritan primary sources, as well as scholarly secondary sources, Ryken levels the deathblow to any who would use the word “Puritan” in a derogatory way. .... [more]
Discerning Reader: Review of Worldly Saints by Leland Ryken

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