Monday, July 25, 2011

Another Writer's Trap

Yes, I am still bogged down in the First Great Awakening.
The research becomes so interesting that I don't want to leave it. The other problem is that I have to squeeze three books down into about three paragraphs (in order to avoid breaking the thrust of the main narrative) and that is really hard work.
What's needed is a simple but accurate summary of complex ideas. For example, it looks as though Jonathan Edwards started out as the last great defender of Puritan ideals.  He was in no way reactionary, however, since he based his theology on the "new science" of Newton and Locke. Then he quickly evolved to lay the theological and experiential foundations of the revival movement, which has been such an important continuing force in American Protestantism.
And since John Locke was such an important influence on Edwards, I had to go back and review some of his stuff.  Fortunately these men's writings are available for free on the internet, because my bookshelves are full.
Only two of my ancestors probably read as much of this as I have: the Reverend David Thurston of Winthrop, Maine and the Reverend Henry Richardson, and they came along much later.  Those living in Edwards's time were ordinary working people, but they were regular church goers, and thus in the middle of the actual revival controversies. So the book will have a few more paragraphs about that.
Now, back to the real work.

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