Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ahistorical Puritanism

I'm not a huge Lew Rockwell fan, but this historical perspective on the Global Struggle Against Vehement Ecumenicism and it's vanguard warriors:
Their own ideological predecessors in American history – the New England Puritans – were the first group in the history of Christianity to attempt to stamp out Christmas altogether.

Historian Oliver Perry Chitwood tells us that they managed to suppress the entire holiday. "The Puritans were opposed to the observance of Christmas," he writes, "which they regarded as a Catholic custom, and during the colonial period, Christmas was, therefore, not a New England holiday except in Rhode Island."

Perry Miller, in his magisterial treatise on Puritan culture, elaborates: "Christmas was associated in the Puritan mind with the ‘Lords of Misrule,’ with riot and drunkenness. Though commemorated outside New England, and by the Anglicans in Boston as early as 1686, it never came to be regarded generally as a day of joy and good will until the mid-nineteenth century."

David Hackett Fischer provides the broader context: "The Puritans made a point of abolishing the calendar of Christian feasts and saints’ day. The celebration of Christmas was forbidden in Massachusetts on pain of a five-shilling fine." Nor was this a Colonial peculiarity. When the same bunch was in charge in England, the Puritan Parliament "prohibited the observance of Christmas, Easter, Whitsunday, saints’ days and holy days."
The ahistoricality of their position is heightened, as Rockwell points out, by the deep-rooted and unresolvable tension between opposition to commercialization (aka idolatry) of the holiday and their need to see Christmas as universally celebrated, even by non-Christians and non-human corporations.

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