Thursday, November 25, 2010

First Thanksgiving was no "Tea Party"

Earlier this week I ran into Dr. John Herron, professor of history at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He told me that he would be traveling to a hiring conference in early 2011 as UMKC is looking to hire a new professor of colonial American history. Our conversation made me fondly remember all the classes I had taken with Prof. David Hall at Harvard Divinity School. Hall is the world's leading expert on the history of colonial New England.

Earlier this week, a short article by Hall on the Puritans was published in the New York Times.
Why does it matter whether we get the Puritans right or not? The simple answer is that it matters because our civil society depends, as theirs did, on linking an ethics of the common good with the uses of power. In our society, liberty has become deeply problematic: more a matter of entitlement than of obligation to the whole. Everywhere, we see power abused, the common good scanted. Getting the Puritans right won’t change what we eat on Thanksgiving, but it might change what we can be thankful for and how we imagine a better America.