Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. – Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Saturday, October 2, 2021

The Puritans and Their Influence in America




The Puritans and Their Influence in America

A 2-day conference was recently held at Calvin College Seminary presenting aspects of Puritanism, the Puritan spiritual life, and its resonance, or not, for today's contemporary discussions. Here is the presentation in chronological order of speaker. - R.E. Slater 

Due to an error on the recording of Margaret Bendroth’s opening presentation, “Why the Puritans Still Matter and Why They Might Not: Thinking About Historical Legacies in the 21st Century,” this presentation has been lost and is not available for viewing. As substitute the following dialogue has been inserted by myself. - R.E. Slater

The Spiritual Practice of Remembering
by Margaret Bendroth
May 6, 2021

On Friday, December 11, we hosted author and historian of religion Margaret Bendroth to discuss the nature and importance of memory in the Christian life and tradition. In her luminous work "The Spiritual Practice of Remembering," Bendroth argues that “remembering is an act with spiritual meaning... the past tense is essential to our language of faith; without it our conversation is limited and thin  - and growing thinner all the time.” The very act of noticing and remembering reconnects us to the Great Story. We hope this conversations helps you to think about the importance of remembering to the life of our faith.

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Comment: In this lecture Dr. Richard Muller discusses the natural theology of the Puritans. As a process theologian I noticed immediately how Puritan ideation of God and nature departed from process natural theology. As example, at the end of the lecture the Calvinist idea of lapsarianism was discussed. In process thought there can be no discussion of this subject as the Hebraic legend of Creation and the Fall is not actual. This means that the problem of evil began contemporaneous with the issuance of God's command to create, wherein was birthed love giving agency to creation and with agency came the ability to depart from God, love, and fellowship with all. The nuance  then addresses theodicy without necessitation biblical literalism. - re slater

The H. Henry Meeter Center
John Preston on the Purpose and Place of the Natural Knowledge of God
by Dr. Richard Muller
Sep 30, 2021


This presentation was given by Dr. Richard Muller (Calvin Theological Seminary) at our conference on The Puritans and Their Impact (September 24-25, 2021).  A brief summary follows below:
"John Preston’s sermons, most notably those in his Life Eternall, exemplify the early seventeenth-century development of an English Reformed homiletical theology in which hortatory elements were combined with fairly detailed theological argumentation, both positive and apologetic - intended for the edification of an educationally receptive laity. In the context of his sermons and in the process of formulation of a full homiletical body of divinity, Preston provided an analysis of the problems of faith and reason and of the use of natural knowledge of God illustrative of an approach that was neither fideistic nor rationalistic. His approach to formulation evidences the impact of the more technical scholastic development of Reformed thought at the same time that it adapts doctrine to its practical application—both following out the programs of William Perkins and William Ames and adumbrating the rise of homiletical theologies among the Puritans and exponents of the Dutch Nadere Reformatie."
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The H. Henry Meeter Center
"A publiq spirit for Sions sake": 
Puritan Activism in the Early Restoration
by Dr. Adrian Weimer
Sep 30, 2021

This presentation was given by Dr. Adrian Weimer (Providence College) at our conference on The Puritans and Their Impact (September 24-25, 2021).  A brief summary follows here:

"After the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660, New England colonists were faced with an imperial metropolis intent on consolidating its power. Drawing on resources from the Protestant Reformation and the English civil wars, colonial men and women mobilized around protecting their local institutions, forming a robust constitutional culture. This culture was marked by an ideal of public-spiritedness, a capacity among ordinary people to identify and critique arbitrary rule, and widespread mobilizing through petitions and fast days."
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The H. Henry Meeter Center
The Wars of the Lord: How the Puritans Conquered America's First People
by Dr. Matthew Tuininga
Sep 30, 2021

This presentation was given by Dr. Matthew Tuininga (Calvin Theological Seminary) at our conference on The Puritans and Their Impact (September 24-25, 2021). A brief summary follows here:

"The Puritans came to New England believing they were establishing the kingdom of Christ in a new world and that their Christianity would liberate its people from darkness. But their version of Christianity also played a major role in leading them to dominate the natives. A conquest they foresaw as spiritual, peaceable and benevolent devolved into a military conquest that was virtually genocidal. Puritan theology shaped how this unfolded and how it was justified, from beginning to end."
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The H. Henry Meeter Center
The Decline of Doctrine in Seventeenth-Century Cambridge
by Chad Van Dixhoorn
Sep 30, 2021

This presentation was given by Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn (Westminster Theological Seminary) at our conference on The Puritans and Their Impact (September 24-25, 2021). A brief summary follows here. This paper deploys John Arrowsmith’s newly translated "Plans for Holy War" as a lens through which to study the perceived decline of the importance of doctrine in mid-seventeenth century Cambridge University. In "Plans for Holy War," a work of astonishing scholarship written by a dying Cambridge don - contemporary events led Arrowsmith to argue that Christian warfare must be waged in the world of theology. Exploring the dangers seen by Arrowsmith entails the intricate work of reconstructing local and national politics and understanding criticisms of Oxbridge academic theology in his own day.
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The H. Henry Meeter Center
Remembering the Puritans
by Abram Van Engen
Sep 30, 2021

This presentation was given by Dr. Abram Van Engen (Washington University, St. Louis) at our conference on The Puritans and Their Impact (September 24-25, 2021). A brief summary follows here. Heroes and villains. The beginning of religious toleration and the extension of religious oppression. Refugees fleeing persecution for liberty and opportunity abroad; settler colonialists taking land in acts of war and genocide. The Pilgrims and Puritans have been remembered and remade in countless ways in American history, literature, and culture. This talk considers how, why, and when they came to national fame, looking in particular to the role they have played as an origin story for a nation they never conceived.
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The H. Henry Meeter Center
Puritans Conference Speakers Panel
Sep 30, 2021

Here is the concluding panel of our conference, featuring all six of our conference speakers: Margaret Bendroth, Richard Muller, Adrian Weimer, Matthew Tuininga, Chad Van Dixhoorn, and Abram Van Engen.


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SUGGESTED CONFERENCE READINGS





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Dave Roos | Lambert/Getty Images


What’s the Difference Between
Puritans and Pilgrims?

July 31, 2019 | updated March 16, 2021

Both sought a different religious practice than what the Church of England dictated, but they were otherwise distinct groups of people.

Many Americans get the Pilgrims and the Puritans mixed up. Common thinking is: They were both groups of English religious reformers. They both landed in modern-day Massachusetts. And they were both stuffy sourpusses who wore black hats, squared collars and buckled shoes, right?

Well, maybe not the buckles.

To understand the biggest differences between the Pilgrims and the Puritans, one has to go back to the Protestant Reformation, which swept across Europe after Martin Luther (supposedly) nailed his “95 Theses” to the church door in 1517. 

Thanks to the printing press, non-clergy had access to the Bible in their native languages for the first time. They began to question why the Roman Catholic worship services were so different than those of the primitive Christian church.

The Reformation was slower to arrive to the British Isles, but England had its own split from the Roman Catholic church in 1534 when King Henry VIII wanted a divorce and the Pope wouldn’t grant it. The newly created Church of England was similar to Catholicism in every way, except instead of the Pope carrying divine authority, it was the British Crown.

Who Were the Pilgrims?

Every British citizen was expected to attend the Church of England, and those who didn’t were punished by the state. One group of farmers in Northern England, known disparagingly as the Separatists, began to worship in secret, knowing full well that it was treasonous.
“Once they decided that the only way they could be true to their conscience was to leave the established church and secretly worship, they were hunted and persecuted, and many of them faced the loss of their homes and the loss of their livelihood,” says Donna Curtin, executive director of the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. “When it became impossible for them to continue in this way, they began to seek another place to live.”

Pilgrim leader William Bradford, later the Governor of Plymouth Colony, reads the Mayflower Compact on board the Mayflower off the coast of what became known as Massachusetts. | Pilgrim leader William Bradford aboard the Mayflower. Credit: MPI/Getty Images

Pilgrims Look to the New World

The Separatists first fled to the Netherlands, a wealthy maritime superpower that was far more religiously diverse and tolerant. But while life in Holland was peaceful, it wasn’t English, and the Separatists feared that their children were losing their native culture. They decided that the only way to live as true English Christians was to separate even further and establish their own colony in the New World.

Not all of the Separatists could make the cross-Atlantic journey, including their spiritual leader, Reverend John Robinson. Writing years later in Of Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford recounted the tearful farewell at the docks in Delftshaven, where a ship would take the Separatists to meet the Mayflower in London.
“So they left that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting place near twelve years; but they knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lift up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits.”
Curtin points out that Bradford didn’t name his community “Pilgrims,” and wouldn’t have heard the term in his lifetime. The first usage of capital-P “Pilgrim” appeared around 1800, when a group of citizens in Plymouth proposed the creation of a Pilgrim Society to organize the annual celebration of the founding of the Plymouth Colony in 1620. Before 1800, the Separatists who landed at Plymouth Rock were known as the “first-comers” or “forefathers.”

The Pilgrims, led by Bradford, arrived in New England in December. Roughly half of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower died that first winter from starvation, exposure and disease. With the help of the native Wampanoag people, the Pilgrims learned to fish and farm their new lands, resulting in the famous feast of Thanksgiving attended by natives and new arrivals in 1621.



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Nawrocki/ClassicStock/Getty Images


The History of the Puritans

October 29, 2009 | Updated July 30, 2019

The Puritans were members of a religious reform movement known as Puritanism that arose within the Church of England in the late 16th century. They believed the Church of England was too similar to the Roman Catholic Church and should eliminate ceremonies and practices not rooted in the Bible.

Puritans felt that they had a direct covenant with God to enact these reforms. Under siege from Church and crown, certain groups of Puritans migrated to Northern English colonies in the New World in the 1620s and 1630s, laying the foundation for the religious, intellectual and social order of New England. Aspects of Puritanism have reverberated throughout American life ever since.

Puritans: A Definition

The roots of Puritanism are to be found in the beginnings of the English Reformation. The name “Puritans” (they were sometimes called “precisionists”) was a term of contempt assigned to the movement by its enemies. Although the epithet first emerged in the 1560s, the movement began in the 1530s, when King Henry VIII repudiated papal authority and transformed the Church of Rome into a state Church of England. To Puritans, the Church of England retained too much of the liturgy and ritual of Roman Catholicism.
Did you know? In keeping with their focus on the home, Puritan migration to the New World usually consisted of entire families, rather than the young, single men who comprised many other early European settlements.
Well into the 16th century, many priests were barely literate and often very poor. Employment by more than one parish was common, so they moved often, preventing them from forming deep roots in their communities. Priests were immune to certain penalties of the civil law, further feeding anticlerical hostility and contributing to their isolation from the spiritual needs of the people.

The Church of England

Through the reigns of the Protestant King Edward VI (1547-1553), who introduced the first vernacular prayer book, and the Catholic (1553-1558), who sent some dissenting clergymen to their deaths and others into exile, the Puritan movement–whether tolerated or suppressed–continued to grow.

Some Puritans favored a presbyterian form of church organization; others, more radical, began to claim autonomy for individual congregations. Still others were content to remain within the structure of the national church, but set themselves against Catholic and episcopal authority.
As they gained strength, Puritans were portrayed by their enemies as hairsplitters who slavishly followed their Bibles as guides to daily life or hypocrites who cheated the very neighbors they judged inadequate Christians.
Yet the Puritan attack on the established church gained popular strength, especially in East Anglia and among the lawyers and merchants of London. The movement found wide support among these new professional classes, who saw in it a mirror for their growing discontent with economic restraints.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, an uneasy peace prevailed within English religious life, but the struggle over the tone and purpose of the church continued. Many men and women were more and more forced to contend with the dislocations–emotional as well as physical–that accompanied the beginnings of a market economy.

Subsistence farmers were called upon to enter the world of production for profit. Under the rule of primogeniture, younger sons tended to enter the professions (especially the law) with increasing frequency and seek their livelihood in the burgeoning cities. The English countryside was plagued by scavengers, highwaymen and vagabonds–a newly visible class of the poor who strained the ancient charity laws and pressed upon the townsfolk new questions of social responsibility.

Puritans in New England

In the early decades of the 17th century, some groups of worshipers began to separate themselves from the main body of their local parish church where preaching was inadequate and to engage an energetic “lecturer,” typically a young man with a fresh Cambridge degree, who was a lively speaker and steeped in reform theology. Some congregations went further, declared themselves separated from the national church, and remade themselves into communities of “visible saints,” withdrawn from the English City of Man into a self-proclaimed City of God.

The Reformation

One such faction was a group of separatist believers in the Yorkshire village of Scrooby, who, fearing for their safety, moved to Holland in 1608 and then, in 1620, to the place they called Plymouth in New England. We know them now as the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock.

A decade later, a larger, better-financed group, mostly from East Anglia, migrated to Massachusetts Bay. There, they set up gathered churches on much the same model as the transplanted church at Plymouth (with deacons, preaching elders and, though not right away, a communion restricted to full church members, or “saints”).

Differences Between Pilgrims and Puritans

The main difference between the Pilgrims and the Puritans is that the Puritans did not consider themselves separatists. They called themselves “nonseparating congregationalists,” by which they meant that they had not repudiated the Church of England as a false church. But in practice they acted–from the point of view of Episcopalians and even Presbyterians at home–exactly as the separatists were acting.

By the 1640s, their enterprise at Massachusetts Bay had grown to about 10,000 people. They soon outgrew the bounds of the original settlement and spread into what would become Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Maine, and eventually beyond the limits of New England.

Who Were the Puritans?

The Puritan migration was overwhelmingly a migration of families (unlike other migrations to early America, which were composed largely of young unattached men). The literacy rate was high, and the intensity of devotional life, as recorded in the many surviving diaries, sermon notes, poems and letters, was seldom to be matched in American life.

The Puritans’ ecclesiastical order was as intolerant as the one they had fled. Yet, as a loosely confederated collection of gathered churches, Puritanism contained within itself the seed of its own fragmentation. Following hard upon the arrival in New England, dissident groups within the Puritan sect began to proliferate–Quakers, Antinomians, Baptists–fierce believers who carried the essential Puritan idea of the aloneness of each believer with an inscrutable God so far that even the ministry became an obstruction to faith.

Puritanism in American Life

Puritanism gave Americans a sense of history as a progressive drama under the direction of God, in which they played a role akin to, if not prophetically aligned with, that of the Old Testament Jews as a new chosen people.

Perhaps most important, as Max Weber profoundly understood, was the strength of Puritanism as a way of coping with the contradictory requirements of Christian ethics in a world on the verge of modernity. It supplied an ethics that somehow balanced charity and self-discipline. It counseled moderation within a psychology that saw worldly prosperity as a sign of divine favor. Such ethics were particularly urgent in a New World where opportunity was rich, but the source of moral authority obscure.

By the beginning of the 18th century, Puritanism had both declined and shown its tenacity. Though “the New England Way” evolved into a relatively minor system of organizing religious experience within the broader American scene, its central themes recur in the related religious communities of Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists and a whole range of evangelical Protestants.

More recently, the word “Puritan” has once again become a pejorative epithet, meaning prudish, constricted and cold–as in H. L. Mencken’s famous remark that a Puritan is one who suspects “somewhere someone is having a good time.”

Puritanism, however, had a more significant persistence in American life than as the religion of black-frocked caricatures. It survived, perhaps most conspicuously, in the secular form of self-reliance, moral rigor and political localism that became, by the Age of Enlightenment, virtually the definition of Americanism.


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The Boston Massacre was a deadly riot that occurred on March 5, 1770, on King Street in Boston. It began as a street brawl between American colonists and a lone British soldier, but quickly escalated to a chaotic, bloody slaughter. The conflict energized anti-British sentiment ...read more

The Mysterious Enslaved Woman Who Sparked Salem’s Witch Hunt
“I am blind now. I cannot see.” So ended the court appearance of the woman who kicked off the Salem witchcraft trials: Tituba, an enslaved woman who was the first to be accused of witchcraft in Salem. She had just given some of history’s most explosive testimony, a convoluted ...read more

Cudjo Lewis, the last surviving captive of the last slave ship to bring Africans to the U.S. (Credit: Erik Overbey Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama)

One of the Last Slave Ship Survivors Describes His Ordeal in a 1930s Interview
More than 60 years after the abolition of slavery, anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston made an incredible connection: She located one of the last survivors of the last slave ship to bring captive Africans to the United States. Hurston, a known figure of the Harlem Renaissance who ...read more

Battle Lake Borgne Hornbrook

War of 1812
In the War of 1812, the United States took on the greatest naval power in the world, Great Britain, in a conflict that would have an immense impact on the young country’s future. Causes of the war included British attempts to restrict U.S. trade, the Royal Navy’s impressment of ...read more

The Battle of Lexington
7 Events That Enraged Colonists and Led to the American Revolution
The American colonists’ breakup with the British Empire in 1776 wasn’t a sudden, impetuous act. Instead, the banding together of the 13 colonies to fight and win a war of independence against the Crown was the culmination of a series of events, which had begun more than a decade ...read more

Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party was a political protest that occurred on December 16, 1773, at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts. American colonists, frustrated and angry at Britain for imposing “taxation without representation,” dumped 342 chests of tea, imported by the British ...read more

Engraved portrait of English colonist, pioneer, sailor, and soldier John Smith (c. 1580 – 1631) as he stands with one hand on his hip and the other on the hilt of his sword, early 17th Century. Smith had fought as a mercenary in many European armies before he signed on to the Virginia Company’s project at Jamestown which became the first permanent English settlement in America. His negotiations with Powhatan, chief of the local Indians, are credited with saving the colony from ruin. (Photo by Stock Montage/Getty Images)

John Smith
English soldier and explorer Captain John Smith played a key role in the founding of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America, in 1607. Early Life and Military Exploits Born around 1580 in Willoughby, a town in Lincolnshire, England, Smith left home at ...read more

The Salem Witch Trials
5 Notable Women Hanged in the Salem Witch Trials
In early 1692, during the depths of winter in Massachusetts Bay Colony, a group of young girls in the village of Salem began acting strangely. The daughter and niece of the local minister, Samuel Parris, claimed to be afflicted by invisible forces who bit and pinched them, ...read more

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5 Myths About Slavery
1. Myth #1: There were enslaved Irish people in the American colonies. As historian and public librarian Liam Hogan has written: “There is unanimous agreement, based on overwhelming evidence, that the Irish were never subjected to perpetual, hereditary slavery in the colonies, ...read more

The Miserable Journey Aboard the Mayflower
Sailing for more than two months across 3,000 miles of open ocean, the 102 passengers of the Mayflower—including three pregnant women and more than a dozen children—were squeezed below decks in crowded, cold and damp conditions, suffering crippling bouts of seasickness, and ...read more

The Townshend Acts
The Townshend Acts were a series of measures, passed by the British Parliament in 1767, that taxed goods imported to the American colonies. But American colonists, who had no representation in Parliament, saw the Acts as an abuse of power. The British sent troops to America to ...read more

Battles of Lexington and Concord
The Battles of Lexington and Concord, fought on April 19, 1775, kicked off the American Revolutionary War (1775-83). Tensions had been building for many years between residents of the 13 American colonies and the British authorities, particularly in Massachusetts. On the night ...read more

Continental Congress
From 1774 to 1789, the Continental Congress served as the government of the 13 American colonies and later the United States. The First Continental Congress, which was comprised of delegates from the colonies, met in 1774 in reaction to the Coercive Acts, a series of measures ...read more

Painting depicting the marriage ceremony of British colonist John Rolfe (1585 – 1622) to Native American Pocahontas (1595 – 1617), the daughter of Chief Powhatan of the Algonquian tribe, in 1614. After a painting by Henry Brueckner, circa 1855. (Kean Collection/Getty Images)

John Rolfe
John Rolfe (1585-1622) was an early settler of North America known for being the first person to cultivate tobacco in Virginia and for marrying Pocahontas. Rolfe arrived in Jamestown in 1610 with 150 other settlers as part of a new charter organized by the Virginia Company. He ...read more

John Locke
The English philosopher and political theorist John Locke (1632-1704) laid much of the groundwork for the Enlightenment and made central contributions to the development of liberalism. Trained in medicine, he was a key advocate of the empirical approaches of the Scientific ...read more

Vintage portrait of Thomas Paine (1737-1809), an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary whose "Common Sense" and other writings influenced the American Revolution, and helped pave the way for the Declaration of Independence.

How Thomas Paine's 'Common Sense' Helped Inspire the American Revolution
Even after armed hostilities broke out between the American colonists and British forces in 1775, many prominent colonists seemed reluctant to consider the idea of actually breaking away from Britain, and instead insisted that they were still its loyal subjects, even as they ...read more

Samuel Adams
Founding Father Samuel Adams was a thorn in the side of the British in the years before the American Revolution. As a political activist and state legislator, he spoke out against British efforts to tax the colonists, and pressured merchants to boycott British products. He also ...read more

Pocahontas
Pocahontas was a Native American woman born around 1595. She was the daughter of the powerful Chief Powhatan, the ruler of the Powhatan tribal nation, which at its strongest included around 30 Algonquian communities located in the Tidewater region of Virginia. As far as ...read more

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English Bill of Rights
The English Bill of Rights was an act signed into law in 1689 by William III and Mary II, who became co-rulers in England after the overthrow of King James II. The bill outlined specific constitutional and civil rights and ultimately gave Parliament power over the monarchy. Many ...read more

Christianity
Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in the world, with more than 2 billion followers. The Christian faith centers on beliefs regarding the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While it started with a small group of adherents, many historians regard ...read more

Battle of Saratoga
The Battle of Saratoga occurred in September and October, 1777, during the second year of the American Revolution. It included two crucial battles, fought eighteen days apart, and was a decisive victory for the Continental Army and a crucial turning point in the Revolutionary ...read more

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Were witches burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials?
In January 1692, a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts became consumed by disturbing “fits” accompanied by seizures, violent contortions and bloodcurdling screams. A doctor diagnosed the children as being victims of black magic, and over the next several months, ...read more

Signing of the Mayflower Compact
How the Mayflower Compact Laid a Foundation for American Democracy
On the morning of November 11, 1620, when the Mayflower dropped its anchor off the coast of Cape Cod, the group of English Separatists later known as the Pilgrims fell to their knees and blessed God for bringing them safely across the “vast and furious ocean” to a new life in the ...read more

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What Was Life Like in Jamestown?
The first settlers at the English settlement in Jamestown, Virginia hoped to forge new lives away from England―but life in the early 1600s at Jamestown consisted mainly of danger, hardship, disease and death. All of the early settlers in 1607 were men and boys, including ...read more

Battle of Yorktown
When British General Lord Charles Cornwallis and his army surrendered to General George Washington’s American force and its French allies at the Battle of Yorktown on October 19, 1781, it was more than just military win. The outcome in Yorktown, Virginia marked the conclusion of ...read more

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How 5 of History’s Worst Pandemics Finally Ended
As human civilizations flourished, so did infectious disease. Large numbers of people living in close proximity to each other and to animals, often with poor sanitation and nutrition, provided fertile breeding grounds for disease. And new overseas trading routes


If you call yourself pro-life, you need to become involved in the foster care system






If you call yourself pro-life, you need to become
involved in the foster care system.

Savannah Shustack , Guest Writer|September 26, 2021

I am pro-life. I believe abortion is wrong, and I want to make it absolutely unthinkable. However, I am also practical. If those of you who consider yourselves pro-life will not use your resources to care for the children already alive, then you have no moral high ground. Solely condemning abortion and calling for its abolishment, even if you are morally correct, does not solve the problem. Who will care for these children? Many pro-life Christians aren’t opening their homes for the children who already exist, nor supporting those people who do. 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2017, 862,320 abortions were performed in the U.S. My home state of Massachusetts performed 18,590 of these. According to The Imprint, in Massachusetts in 2020, there were 9,693 children in custody of the state, yet there are only 5,868 licensed foster homes in Massachusetts. These statistics are sobering, and reflect the national trend of having almost double the number of foster children as there are licensed foster homes. In 2020, there were 214,421 licenced foster homes and 418,917 foster youth in the system nationally, according to The Imprint. 

Today, even though hundreds of thousands of unwanted fetuses were never born, the foster care system — which works to provide safe homes, temporary or permanent, for kids from unfortunate family situations — is completely flooded. Let’s say that in the future, the pro-life movement achieves its goal and abortion is heavily restricted or banned. If the lack of involvement with foster care persists as it does today, and if even half of these unwanted fetuses are born, what will we do with all the babies?

If the pro-life movement redirected its resources and energy into lobbying for positive policy reform, as well as increased involvement in the foster care system, I believe we as a nation could eventually be in a position to care for not only the children in the system but also the babies that could be born if abortion is banned in the future. At the bare minimum, the kids who are in the system should have homes while we work to ban abortion. And, while we attempt to ban abortion, we should also be working to reduce the social conditions that often factor into the decision to have an abortion.

As a college student, it isn’t practical to become a foster parent, but there are a plethora of opportunities to support foster families. Together We Rise and One Simple Wish are two of many organizations that make it easy to contribute to caring for foster youth. Or simply ask around at church to see if any foster families would benefit from an evening of childcare. If kids aren’t your thing, maybe make dinner for said family. 

I realize many individual Christians in my community, and yours, are involved in the foster care system to the furthest extent they can. I honor that. The emotional stress is taxing. But even though systemic change of the foster care system is desperately needed, do not use that as an excuse to do nothing. I know it is hard. But it is unimaginably harder for the traumatized kids who live this reality. 

My family babysat a boy who was born addicted to drugs. A tiny little baby going through the pain of withdrawal, without anyone to call mother, is one of the saddest sights in the world. Another kid was taken from his parents for a month at the age of seven. In that month, he didn’t stay at the same foster home for more than four consecutive nights. Can you imagine that level of uncertainty in your life? Hearing the countless stories of brokenness shatters my heart over and over again.

The pain of loving my foster sister, while living in the anticipation of potentially having to let her go, is beyond words. This pain is the excuse I hear most often when I ask people why they are not involved with foster care. People say things like: “I couldn’t do it. It would hurt too much to let them go.” I understand. But these children need love so much more than you need comfort. “Pain did not stop Jesus from loving,” as Pastor Mary said on communion Sunday. Pain will not stop me either. Do not let it stop you.

- Savannah Shustack


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Suffer the Little Children to Come unto Me
Oct 31, 2013


Luke 18:15-17
15 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer [the] little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.