I have been reading a lot this winter. Lots and lots of histories – mainly US but plenty about the founding of Upper Canada, too, though those texts are fewer and far between. Right now, I am reading John Winthrop: America’s Forgotten Founding Father by Francis J. Bremer, a book about the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony founded in 1630 a decade after the Pilgrims hit Plymouth Rock. It is a great ride, covering his grandfather’s birth in 1480 to his own death in 1648 and contextualizes his life in the ebb and flow of the state’s regulation of religious practices from pre-Luther to the lead up to the English Civil War, also the name of an excellent song by The Clash. But this is the key bit. The middle bit to his sermon to his fellow passengers on the event of their departure to New England from the Old World:
… for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of god and all professours for Gods sake; wee shall shame the faces of many of gods worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into Cursses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land whether wee are going…
See that? The new order of New England shall not only be a candle on a stand rather than under a bushel (basket) – but if they were to screw up “wee shall shame the faces of many of gods worthy servants.” That is a heavy burden but one that acts as a prophesy, reaching to today from 381 years ago. What was the way to avoid having “prayers to be turned into Cursses upon us”? Worship of those other gods, pleasures and profits. And also failing to make “others Condicions our owne rejoyce together, mourne together, labour, and suffer together, allwayes haveing before our eyes our Commission and Community in the worke.” Pinkos! I see Pinkos! Pinkos like me!
Next time you hear about how American was founded on faith, you may want to agree in part and note that what sort of Christian by which it was founded.