>Christianity (Puritans) and Capitalism


There is a whole lot of connection between mainline Christianity and mainline Capitalism.  The interplay is scary at times.  But, was it always that way?  Apparently not. 

See this from over at the New York Times’ “Idea of the Day” blog — although it’s from a week ago now.  It’s called, “How Puritans Turned Capitalist.”

The Idea is: 

When Boston’s dour Puritan preachers embraced markets as a moral good three and a half centuries ago, it was a watershed in the formation of the American economy and the national character.

This idea come from Mark Valeri’s book, “Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America” and claims that, when life got rough in Puritan America, those who used to disdain the market as evil, started seeing that it was necessary to have some economic growth to get the country on track.  It was, perhaps, self-preservation that got some of our more conservative religious folk on the capitalism bandwagon…all in the name of Jesus.

Here’s what Valeri says about Rev. Samuel Willard, one of those Puritans who helped this change along…

[He] preached during a period when Boston merchants believed that their occupation was essential to the commonweal — to England’s prosperity and therefore to Protestantism and liberty. Their strategies to convey goods, credit, and power throughout the British Atlantic proved them to be patrons of the empire. Many moralists, Willard included, valorized them in such terms. His successors, leading Boston pastors of the 1710s, 1720s, and 1730s, went further. They, along with their parishioners, sanctioned the practices that guaranteed economic success as moral mandates, and the rules that governed commercial exchange as natural and divine laws. Their convictions informed a market culture that, by many accounts, came to maturity by 1750 and provided motives for rebellion against the British Empire after the cessation of war with France. 

You can read a lot more from the author in an interview with the Boston Globe

So, if this is how the connection between consumerism and American Christianity was solidified, how do we “unsolidify” it? 
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