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A joyous surpise - our national heritage,
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This review is from: Puritanism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I came to this book wanting an account free from the stereotypes of puritanism. My own childhood was significantly shaped by the final echoes of puritan thinking and I wanted to understand it more; to get away from the image of prudish, repressed, prohibitionist busy-bodies and people whose greatest fear was that "someone, somewhere might be happy."
Bremner gives a clear account of the origins of puritanism, what he calls 'the reformation of the Reformation'. He explains the thinking, the historical context and the core beliefs. There are excellent chapters on the puritan's concept of God and what that God required of him. There is a chapter on the puritan way of life too, which holds many pleasant surprises: that they enjoyed a glass of wine, didn't dress in black and (shock) also enjoyed sex. Here is a pattern of belief and thought that hugely influenced this country and was a significant part of the founding of a new country - America.
If there is an issue (four stars, not five) it is that he perhaps spends a little too much time in the early Untied States rather than here at home. There is little of Milton or John Bunyan - the puritan who wrote the most influential and published puritan book in English history. I would like to have seen a link made with the later evangelical movement, now so influential and global, and also the founding of the Brethren movement in Victorian times. Both of these were fundamentally puritan in their origins.
This small comment aside, I whole-heartedly commend this book. It joins the ranks of a fine series of 'Short Introduction' books and is worthy of the heritage. Puritanism is an underestimated and misunderstood part of our national heritage. Please read the book to discover more.