Tag Archives: reception history

Cotton Mather gets the YA treatment

The ghost of Cotton Mather has made another appearance in modern America: this time in a Young Adult novel about bullying.

Adriana and Cotton Mather How to Hang a Witch is the debut work of Adriana Mather, a Mather of the Mathers.

Adriana identifies as a descendent of the famous Puritan and says she learned about her Mather lineage and Cotton Mather from her great-grandmother, a teacher and amateur historian who “catalogued everything from our family.”

Now she’s turned her personal history into a bit of fiction. The heroine of the new novel How to Hang a Witch is also a Mather of the Mathers. The 15-year-old protagonist moves to Salem, Mass. with her stepmother, only to discover that her family’s connection to the witch trials make her a target of the witches who dominate her school.

Also there’s a ghost boy and a whisper about a Mather-family curse.

A sample:

“‘Not having a good first day at Salem High?’

“I shake my head. ‘Have you noticed a group of girls in my grade that wear all black—rich goth types?’

“‘The Descendants?’

“I venture a look at Jaxon. ‘What?’

“‘Like that?’ He nods toward a guy and a girl entering the room. The guy wears an expensive–looking black button-down shirt, black pants, and black loafers. And she has on a floor-length black dress with a tailored black blazer. Her hair is a perfect bob.

“‘Yeah, exactly like that.’

“‘There are five of them in our school. He’s the only dude. They’re descended from the original witches. Everyone kinda love-hates them. People think they can curse you if they want to. I think it’s total bull.’

“‘You’re kidding, right?’ But I can tell from his expression that he’s not.”

Publisher’s Weekly says the novel is “an entertaining story that draws intriguing parallels between the 17th-century trials and modern-day bullying, as well as the fears and mob mentalities behind both.”

Adriana Mather said she wanted to show how the mob-mentality of the witch trials were not as outdated as one might think. “We look at the Salem Witch Trials,” she said in a promotional interview, “and think, ‘How could they ever let something horrible like that happen?’ But it’s not that different for the people who suffer from bullying now.”

Mather’s ghost thus provides pop culture another modern lesson in how not to be a bully.

–Daniel Silliman

New book takes page-turning approach to Salem witches

Just in time for Halloween, there’s a new book out about the Salem witch trials.

It’s not clear  we needed a new book about the Salem witch trials, but it’s coming anyway. The Witches: Salem, 1692, is due out from Little, Brown and Company on Oct. 27. The book is written by Stacy Schiff, who has previously penned popular works on Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Véra Nabokov, Benjamin Franklin and Cleopatra. She won a Pulitzer for Véra: (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) and achieved bestseller status with Cleopatra: A Life. Now she turns her attention to Puritan New England.

The jacket copy promises a book that is “as psychologically thrilling as it is historically seminal,” and says “the first great American mystery” will be “unveiled fully for the first time.”

Schiff, for her part, acknowledges a lot of historical work has been done on Salem, but says she wanted to take a different approach.

“Most of the really good books,” Schiff told Publishers Weekly, “are thesis driven: it was geographic hostility, or it was the trauma of Indian warfare, or it was conversion disorder. I felt that was cheating. The whole point is that you want readers to want to turn the page—you don’t want to tell them, here’s what you should be thinking . . . I wanted the reader to pick up the hints and put them together. Only at the end do I say, oh, yes—if you saw this and this and this, that’s how the pieces fit together.”

Some early reviews have been critical on exactly this point.

41+p60iyA1L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Library Journal Review reports that “Schiff’s goal appears to be creating a complete accounting—it’s hard to tell, though, because the work is weak in structure and organization and lacks a solid thesis.”

Kirkus faintly praises the book for being “intelligent and reliable,” but generally dismisses the effort. According to its review, “While Schiff has marshaled the facts in neat sequential order … she doesn’t have anything new to say or at least nothing that would come as a revelation to even general readers, until the final pages.”

Others found the narrative approach to the story of the Salem witches more compelling. Booklist Review, for example, calls Witches “a compulsively readable slice of Americana that will appeal to both book clubs and a wide variety of
individual readers.”

Some reviewers are also arguing that Schiff’s work is very thesis-driven, even if she doesn’t come right out and declaim it.

In the Minneapolis, Minn. Star Tribune, reviewer Hamilton Cain writes that “Schiff nimbly connects Salem’s fatal mania to subsequent witch-hunts, such as McCarthyism and the rise of Movement conservatism, revealing how close we remain to the specters and demons that stalked the Bay Colony more than three centuries ago.”

At the Atlantic, reviewer Adam Goodheart reports that Schiff re-tells the witch trials as befits “our own peculiar cultural moment.” She places the children at the center of the story, not unlike what one finds in wildly popular young adult fiction, like Harry Potter and Twilight. She also connects the hysteria to, among other things, problems of media and the uneven distribution of knowledge. Demonic possession is imagined as a matter of memes.

“The whole scholarly infrastructure of the 17th century—books, universities, learned societies—helped disseminate accounts of witchcraft and its dangers to the far ends of the Christian world,” Goodheart writes. “The judges in Massachusetts, and probably also some of the accusers, were deeply influenced by accounts of a witch outbreak in distant Sweden some years earlier. Witchcraft was science, and vice versa.”

Readers can judge for themselves at the end of the month. Or, for a sneak peak, check out the extended excerpt of Schiff’s book in the New Yorker.

“In isolated settlements, in smoky, fire-lit homes,” Schiff writes, setting the scene. “New Englanders lived very much in the dark . . . The seventeenth-century sky was crow black, pitch-black, Bible black, so black that it could be difficult at night to keep to the path, so black that a line of trees might freely migrate to another location, or that you might find yourself pursued by a rabid black hog, leaving you to crawl home on all fours, bloody and disoriented.”

Just in time for Halloween.

— Daniel Silliman

Jonathan Edwards in Oklahoma

Jonathan Edwards didn’t know of Oklahoma. The word wasn’t even coined until 108 years after he was dead. But do Oklahomans know Jonathan Edwards?

The question is surprisingly controversial at the moment.

A Republican Oklahoma state representative named Dan Fisher, who is also pastor of a Baptist megachurch, has proposed a bill that would defund the teaching of Advanced Placement United States History courses in Oklahoma high schools. AP classes are taught to about 500,000 high school students every year in the US, putting them on the fast track to college education. The AP guidelines for teaching US history was revised in 2014 and Fisher, like many of conservatives, is critical of the new framework.

“Under the new framework, the emphasis of instruction is on America as a nation of oppressors and exploiters,” Fisher said. “Now certainly we all know that we have our blemishes, and we wouldn’t want to withhold those. But we don’t want only our blemishes taught and not have a balanced approach.”

Fisher says the biggest problem with the new curriculum is what is left out: “the heroes from American history are pretty much omitted.”

One of those heroes, according to Oklahoma House Bill 1380, is Jonathan Edwards. Fisher is afraid Edward, along with others, is being kept out of the US history classroom. The legislation would require that Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” be taught to advanced high school students, along with two other Puritan texts, John Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity” and the Mayflower compact.

Fisher’s proposal was passed last week by the Oklahoma house’s education committee with an 11-4 vote on party lines. The news was met with considerable scorn and outrage. Many on the left see this bill as an example of the American right’s head-in-the-sand anti-intellectualism. Conservatives, it is alleged, can’t handle the truth of American history. They want a of national ideology to overwrite the complexities of what actually happened.

Michael Hiltzik, writing for the L.A. Times, says that “For the right wing, historical truth matters for naught; what’s important is the ideological narrative, and if it fails to match their vision of an America shining the light of freedom and plenty on the world.”

“Oh, that pesky history of ours,” writes John D. Sutter, a CNN columnist, mocking Fisher and his cohort. “Why not just take a big ole’ eraser to it?”

At the Guardian, Stephen W. Thrasher says that this is a perversion of education to political ends. “Holding our children’s futures hostage by refusing them the opportunity to learn both the good and the bad is simply an effort to secure future votes,” Trasher writes, “not help children learn.”

That’s a pretty cynical interpretation of Fisher’s bill. While these are cynical times, there’s nothing in the text of HB 1380 that supports the idea that Oklahoma Republicans would require high school teachers to leave some facts out of their education plans. There’s nothing in the bill that says teachers have to teach America’s greatness without including any voices critical of that national narrative. There’s nothing that says the goal of education should be instilling students with a belief in American exceptionalism.

If you actually read Fisher’s piece of legislation, it proposes that advanced placement history curricula in the state “shall include as part of the primary instruction” documents related to America’s founding. These are, in the main, defined quite broadly. The bill mentions “organic documents from the pre-Colonial, Colonial, Revolutionary, Federalist and post-Federalist eras,” and “United States Supreme Court decisions.” Where it gets more specific, the bill proposes requiring high school teachers to teach a varied list of historical texts in their advanced classes. Some of these certainly articulate conservative visions of America’s special place in the world, but not all. There are three Ronald Reagan speeches on the list, but two by Lyndon B. Johnson. This proposal would require students study women’s-rights activist Elisabeth Cady Stanton and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, John Steinbeck’s class warfare novel Grapes of Wrath and even the words of the black nationalist Malcolm X.

It’s silly to say this legislation would forbid the teaching of America’s dirty, conflicted and complicated past. While Fisher no doubt wants to reject a narrative where America is a “nation of oppressors and exploiters,” he has not proposed a curriculum that would suppress all accounts of oppression and exploitation.

If you read the bill, that’s just not what it says.

Of course, it’s not just Fisher’s critics who seem to struggle with basic reading comprehension. Fisher himself seems to wildly misunderstand the AP classes he’s criticizing. The AP framework doesn’t get into a debate about emphasizing or de-emphasizing “blemishes”; it doesn’t take a position on whether America is a force of oppression in the world or a city on a hill. It isn’t simply political. Instead, the guidelines for the advanced classes say the classes are to teach students how to wrestle with conceptual understandings of American history. The curriculum framework says “students should learn to use historical facts and evidence to achieve deeper conceptual understandings of major developments in U.S. history.”

The first part of this is the development of historical thinking skills. The skills are listed: chronological reasoning, comparing and contextualizing, crafting historical arguments using historical evidence, and interpreting and synthesizing historical narratives.

Something like “contextualizing” can, of course, be political. Historian Andrew Hartman writes that some of the influential historians who have advocated for transnational contextualization of history have had political motivations. In the “longstanding disciplinary efforts to place the American past in a transnational context,” Hartman writes, some have been “quite explicit that such an approach might soften how the nation projects its power to the rest of the world.” They believed that approach to history would have political ramifications. “An international perspective,” they thought, “would be a cure for an increasingly outmoded nationalist perspective.”

Most historians are more circumspect about the political potential of historiography. A more immediate and tangible reason to “internationalize” American history is that it provides perspective.

The Jonathan Edwards Center Germany is an example of this: One of the center’s objectives is to put Edwards in a transatlantic context. Prof. Jan Stievermann, the center’s director, has studied German Protestant receptions of Jonathan Edwards, looking at how the Puritan project was understood by its continental contemporaries. Others, including Prof. Peter J. Thuesen, of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who gave the keynote address at the Jonathan Edwards Center Germany’s inauguration, have studied how Edwards was influenced by Europeans. Edwards is best thought of, Thuesen said, in a “complex web of connections linking him to the British Isles and Continental Europe — connections involving economic, political, cultural, and intellectual life.”

It seems unlikely that these contextualizations would make anyone more or less conservative. They’re certainly not committed to getting anyone to love America more — or less. The focus, pretty simply, is on improving the understanding of Jonathan Edwards by doing the work that historians do. Fisher seems to think the AP framework, which focuses on teaching skills like contextualization, is incompatible with teaching texts like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” At least as the Jonathan Edwards Center Germany approaches it, this just isn’t true.

The second part of developing students’ “conceptual understanding” of American history, as outlined by the AP framework, involves organizing American history around big themes. The framework lists seven themes, which are quite broad. One is “Ideas, beliefs, and culture.” Another is “American in the world.”

A conservative might interpret some of these as politically objectionable. One is “Identity” and, according to the framework, that theme pays “special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial, and ethnic identities.” The first three segments of the Identity section, however, are given to very traditional debates about America’s national identity at the context of the founding and the new republic, the context of territorial expansion and Manifest Destiny, and the context of America’s involvement in two World Wars and the Cold War. Another section focuses on “economic, political, social, and ethnic factors on the formation of regional identities.” Another, migration and assimilation. This is hardly a leftist curriculum; there’s nothing honestly controversial here.

Making honest arguments, incidentally, is one of the skills the AP classes are designed to teach: “Based on their analysis of historical evidence,” the framework reads, “students should then be able to make supportable inferences or draw appropriate conclusions. AP teachers can expose students to a variety of sources to help them draw their own conclusions and inferences.”

To do this, AP teachers assume their advanced students come with a basic knowledge of American history. This seems to be Fisher’s biggest misunderstanding of the courses’ he has proposed to defund. There are not basic classes. These are not classes that every student has to have in order to graduate. They are classes for advanced students who know a little something about America’s history and are ready to be challenged to ask the kinds of critical questions that Fisher himself is trying to ask: How were these narratives constructed? What political influences were involved? How do different focuses change the narratives?

This was a point that several high school teachers who teach these AP history classes in the state have made.

“My job is to help students view multiple perspectives and evaluate what are the merits of each,” Matt Holtzen, an AP history teacher at Enid High School in Enid, Oklahoma, told Newsweek.

Janet Thomas, who teaches AP history at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa told the Tulsa World the new framework “requires a lot more critical thinking skills than the old test did …. It’s not just memorization of facts and dates. It allows students the opportunity to compare things across times in history and think critically about why certain things happened.”

If the framework doesn’t mention specific texts that Fisher wants to make sure are taught, that may be because they’re obvious to high school history teachers, according to Eugene Earsom, who taught in Oklahoma for 20 years before becoming the state’s Department of Education’s director of the social studies curriculum for seven years. Asked about Fisher’s proposal that advanced classes be required to teach John Winthrop and Jonathan Edwards and a list of other canonical history texts, Earsom said, “I don’t know of any history teacher who is worth his or her salt that doesn’t teach all of these already.” Edwards might not be taught in the advanced history classes, but that’s because his most famous sermon has already been taught Oklahoma’s high schoolers.

The political question remains open in Oklahoma, as Fisher’s bill is currently being revised, following the backlash. The controversy has already answered another question, though: Oklahomans do know Jonathan Edwards.

— Daniel Silliman

Cotton Mather comes to TV

Cotton Mather has come to American television with the new show Salem. Mather has a long pop-culture history — from a Marvel supervillain fighting Spiderman to jokey New Yorker film reviews written in his name — but this would seem to be the first time he’s been a main character on a TV drama. Now, with Salem, Cotton Mather is at the center of a WGN America cable show airing on Sunday nights.

Finally!

Or maybe not.

As Kelli McCoy and Rick Kennedy write of their review of the show for Books & Culture, “Cotton Mather continues in his standard role as the minister all viewers love to hate.” Salem, it seems, has decided to follow the tradition that started in the slander of Robert Calef. McCoy and Kennedy explain:

“Although Mather never led a witch hunt, never was at any of the Salem witch trials, and did not agree that the evidence presented in the trials was sufficient to convict anyone of being a witch, Calef fixated on him as the cause of the witchcraft hysteria. Calef’s wild and scurrilous collection of anti-Mather material was published in London, and ever since there has been a weak but written foundation for presenting Mather as somehow central to the Salem story.”

Salem is not particularly interested in historical accuracy. It’s probably not really helpful to judge it by that standard, though there are certainly also historians who take pleasure from pointing out anachronisms. Salem has enough, big and small, to keep such viewers busy.

The Mather of this show is the Mather who is obsessed with witches, with devils, with the Devil, and with the apocalyptic battle he believes is centered on the colonial town of Salem. Mather, played by Seth Gabel, is first seen in the first episode (spoiler alert) preaching this message from the pulpit. He is preaching about witches. It escalates quickly to a high-volume rant about the stakes of the Puritan vision of a city on a hill, the dangers of this errand into the wilderness.

“The Devil was never going to let a promised land be built here without a fight,” he yells as the gathered congregation, “without a battle.”

In the tradition of pop culture Puritans, Mather is a fanatic. And also — as always — a hypocrite. A few scenes after he’s shown ranting about witches in church, Mather is shown in a brothel having sex with a prostitute. Because he’s both hypocrite and fanatic, however, Mather doesn’t just have sex with the prostitute, he shouts scripture while having sex with a prostitute. “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!,” says Mather, “for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” He helpfully cites chapter and verse: Revelation 12:12.

This is the status quo, of course, with representations of Puritans and of Mather in particular, since he’s imagined as the Puritan par excellence. His moral character is harshly judged, and by contemporary standards. Historian Harry Stout, in the preface to the collection Cotton Mather and the Biblia Americana — America’s First Bible Commentary, co-edited by Jonathan Edwards Center Germany director Jan Stievermann, notes that Mather is often condemned on the basis of psychological interpretations of what was really going on with him. While there are reasons to question the accuracy of psychotherapeutic diagnoses from across centuries, the Puritan practices of self-examination and the discovery of election perhaps lend themselves to unsympathetic readings.

“There is a long line of scholars,” Stout writes, “who have primarily judged Mather by his diary and found him guilty of vanity and egocentrism masquerading as Christian humility.”

To that long line, we can now add the television show Salem. Which is not to say that the representation here is entirely unsympathetic. Gabel, who played a recurring character on the show Fringe and also acted in the 2006 film The Da Vinci Code, plays Mather as someone engaged in a great internal struggle. He’s not simply a fraud or bigot, not straight-forwardly the villain. He is internally conflicted. Gabel explains:

“What I loved so much about the character was how tortured he was and how repressed he was and at the same time, how much he wanted to break free of all of the oppression in the society that he’s grown up in . . . He’s a person who has wonder and curiosity about the world that he lives in, but the society around him doesn’t encourage that, and all of his natural instincts are repressed by everyone around him and so as a result of that, he ends up exploding into chaos and misbehavior.”

The actor has psychologized Mather, clearly, but more sympathetically that one might expect from a show that has Mather leading the hunt for witches.

But then, the show is even more fundamentally sympathetic to Mather than that. In this show, Mather is actually right. There are witches. They are conspiring in the night, consorting with supernatural entities at enmity with the Puritans, plotting chaos and death. Suspicion of the supernatural is shown as a tool of the Devil, rationalism only a cloak for evil.

In some cases, in the first episode, the demonic activity is presented an liminal. A woman gives her unborn child over to a demon, but the point of view is fevered and nightmarish. In other cases, though, Salem shows the supernatural evil in realistic terms, from the “objective” point of view of the reality of the show. A character looks at Mather skeptically while he spouts data about demons, but then he’s shown to be right. He says, for example, that demons take on the guise of small animals that feed on the blood of their victims, leaving tell-tale vampiric wounds. In a later scene, a witch feeds a “frog” from an open wound on her inner thigh. In this world, Mather knows what he’s talking about, at least to an extent.

McCoy and Kennedy:

“The creators of the show are presenting a revised version of American history that actually conforms, in the big picture, with Cotton Mather’s own assessment of the witch trials in his Magnalia Christi Americana (1702). In the Magnalia, Mather writes of Satan’s possession of America before the Puritans arrived. Satan and his minions are threatened by Puritan towns. The battle for Salem, Cotton believes, is a battle for the future good of America. Mather admits the trials were botched. There was ‘a conscientious endeavor to do right,’ he says, but the trials ‘proceeded from mistaken principles,’ and ‘there was a going too far.’ We can imagine Mather enjoying this aspect of the show.”

This aspect of the show has actually stirred some controversy, among critics. At the AV Club, where Salem was panned, Zach Handlen writes that this revisionist history makes the show intolerable.

“It’s inherently distasteful to suggest that not killing enough people was the true mistake the Puritans made,” he writes. “The premise isn’t simply that witches are real — it’s that these witches are, in fact, controlling Salem just as their accusers believed them to be.”

Handlen notes that the show is campy, though perhaps not campy enough. It owes its aesthetic less to Arthur Miller’s classic retelling of the Salem witch trials, The Crucible, than it does to the many blockbuster demon-possession movies that have crowded multiplexes in recent summers. This is probably the work of Salem‘s co-creator Adam Simon. Simon’s  previous work includes writing the 2001 gangster-ghost-revenge movie Bones and the 2009 demon-possession film The Haunting in Connecticut. He has a deep history in horror, specializing in this genre. In his retelling of the story, Mather has something in common with all the flawed hero priests of exorcism cinema, even if most of them were Catholic while Mather is staunchly Puritan.

For critics who liked the show, the twist that Mather’s right about the witches was its strengths. The New York Times’ critic Ned Genzlinger described the premise as fearless and shameless. He used the word “spunk,” noting Salem “gleefully [goes] over the top from time to time just to make sure you’re paying attention.”

There is an audience paying attention. The first three episodes averaged a viewership of about 1.7 million, and WGN America has announced Salem will get a second season in 2015.

For better or worse, Cotton Mather has his TV show for the foreseeable future, and it’s this one.

— Daniel Silliman

[Cross-posted at www.danielsilliman.blogspot.com]

Edwards in our time

Thinking about Jonathan Edwards in his own time is difficult enough. Grasping Edwards as a theological figure today presents its own sets of unique problems.

Understanding how Edwards figures on the contemporary landscape requires a lot of a kind of back-and-forth cultural translation: allowing but then also critiquing (but then also still allowing) reconstructions, appropriations, and reanimaitons, as one attends to how 16th century theology is made relevant and applicable in 21st century theology. It’s one part reception history, one part history of ideas, one part discourse analysis. And the added complication: one has to do history, but then also set it aside, too, as the figure of Edwards at work in contemporary theological thinking is decidedly ahistorical.

One good place to start, to get a sense of how Edwards is talked about theologically right now, is with these videos of Doug Wilson talking about Jonathan Edwards.

Wilson, a pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, and one of the founders of New Saint Andrews, is a Reformed thinker who was described himself as ” advanc[ing] what you might call a Chestertonian Calvinism.”

From that position, Wilson argues with Edwards on some points (in particular having to do with Edwards connections to present-day evangelicalism) and praises Edwards and feels himself challenged by Edwards on other points (“This was a man absolutely marinated in scripture“).

Especially of interest to those trying to figure out Edwards present shape or form in theological thought is the last video, where Wilson connects Edwards’ thought with the theology of C.S. Lewis and John Piper, specificall with the theology Piper has promoted, Christian Hedonism.

As Wilson explains it, all three of these men, despite their very different times and contexts and varieties of Christianity, “emphasize … teach, point out, admit” that:

“Everybody chooses that which they believe to be good, and that which they believe to be good for them. Now there’s a way of doing it selfishly. The difference between good and evil is determined by what you call ‘good,’ not whether you pursue good.”

This is one of the main ideas of Edwards — as it’s used and understood and talked about in certain circles of contemporary American Christianity. In Edwards, one can find these ideas even in his very oldest extant sermon, circa 1720 or 1721, where he argued for a necessary link between Godliness and hapiness, starting from exactly this foundational psychological idea that all people seek happiness.

The first words of Edwards first sermon:

“Reasonable beings, while they act as such, naturally choose those things which they are convinced are best for them, and will certainly do those things which they know they had better do than leave undone. (And, indeed, who in the world could imagine that there were such unreasonable creatures in the world, as that at the very same time that they themselves know a thing to be much to their advantage, yet will not choose or do it?)”

For Wilson, as well as Piper and a circle of Reformed Christians in American today, this insight serves as a starting point for understanding and explaining Calvinism. This is a key way in which Edwards “lives,” theologically, right now.

Curiously, there’s another near-contemporary figure who starts from this same place and has this same “disciplined understanding of what makes human beings tick,” as Wilson describes it, but who ends up somewhere very, very different: Ayn Rand. She called it the virtue of selfishness.

Where Wilson says “Everybody chooses that which they believe to be good, and that which they believe to be good for them. Now there’s a way of doing it selfishly. The difference between good and evil is determined by what you call ‘good,’ not whether you pursue good,” Rand agrees, “Man has no choice about his capacity to feel that something is good for him or evil, but what he will consider good or evil, what will give him joy or pain, what he will love or hate, desire or fear, depends on his standard of value.”

For her, though, starting with this idea that people do bad things only because they’re confused and think those things are good things, and if they truly understood what was good they would want that instead, ends not in the imperative, “Glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” but rather: Be selfish. Or, as her fictional spokesman John Galt declares, “I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

The ideas are not the same, of course. The trick is articulating why. Which is the history of ideas part of the back-and-forth cultural translation of the tricky business of trying to understand Edwards in our time.

 

— Daniel Silliman