PURITANS AND ROMANTICS: Religion was reduced by the Puritans “to mere morality,” the Puritan imagination was “thoroughly moralized,” said H.B. Parkes and H.W. Schneider respectively, both of them quoted by Yvor Winters in his 1930 book Maule’s Curse. The “highly stimulated” Puritan, said Winters, was “no longer guided by the flexible and sensitive ethical scholarship of the Roman tradition.” [italics mine] Highly stimulated but Calvinistically predestined, he was told by preachers he couldn’t repent even as he was told to repent, in some of the roughest, toughest preaching this side of Beelzebub.
This morality emphasis came to the fore when many years ago I profiled a Unitarian church I knew quite well, focusing on members’ common denominator, morality. The preacher was very good. But his game was morality, nothing but. Fellow Daily News man Bill Newman saw that and observed they would feel pretty good to be characterized that way. He was right. Morality sells. The doctrine that undergirds it does not.
Young romantics of the early 19th century did not feel as Puritans did. Love is free, said the poet Shelley at 19. Monogamy, he said, like religious faith “excludes us from all inquiry.” . . . . Read the rest here.