All “essays” are short responses
We began the course with an examination of John Winthrop’s Massachusetts Bay Colony and ended with Mother Ann Lee’s United Society of Believers in Christ Second Appearing (The Shakers). Using Peter Williams’ definition of “public religion” as “the religious expression and organization of a group of people who have constituted themselves, formally or informally, as a religious community,” write an essay exploring how the historical contexts, beliefs, practices, and sense of mission of each “founder” shaped their similar yet different conceptions of the forms a “covenanted community” should take.
Throughout the semester we have discovered the great importance Americans, during different historical periods, have placed on the practice of religion and freedom. Write an essay discussing how one of the following historical figures or groups has shaped our understanding of the relationship between the practice of religion and the practice of freedom: George Whitefield, Thomas Jefferson, Phillis Wheatley, the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, the Shakers, the Beechers, or Evangelical Protestants.
What is meant by the term “civil religion”? What are the features of civil religion? What influence did this idea and practice have on how Americans viewed the new nation? Explain and illustrate your answer with reference to one of the historical documents discussed in class.
Discuss one way in which each of the following women either revealed, challenged, or transformed the practice of “public religion” in American religious history: Anne Hutchinson, Mother Ann Lee, and Phillis Wheatley. Your essay should provide specific examples of their contributions.
Sacvan Bercovitch writes that “Jeremiads, or political sermons, function as rituals of consensus, replete with a special set of symbols, a communal myth, and a sophisticated form of socialization. They also serve as occasions for dissent from, or disagreement with, the status quo and the formation of new identities.” Write an essay discussing whether the Declaration of Independence would qualify as a “jeremiad.”
During the early part of the semester, we examined the writings of Joseph Jouvency, a Jesuit priest who wrote about the burial practices and rituals of Canadian Indians. The documentary film, Slavery’s Buried Past, offers similar ways of examining the burial practices and rituals of enslaved Africans. Write an essay identifying and discussing three things we can learn about the beliefs and practices of enslaved people from an examination of the material culture they have left behind.
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