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Opposition to Biblical Law in New England Government *

The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay colony are using the Law of the Bible as the law of the land. While biblical law can be harsh, the court is taking into account extenuating circumstances. Nevertheless, an unrepentant homosexual in New Haven, Connecticut is put to death this year. A small but religiously diverse group has protested to the leadership and have threatened to get the Massachusetts Bay charter revoked. The protesters are arrested and forced to make a bond of 200 pounds (or about $45,000 in 2014 dollars.) One fellow named John Child is denounced for being a scientist, a reformer and for using "big words." John feels he doesn't need the government to coerce him into obeying God's laws. He is doing so voluntarily. (He really is.) With all this pressure, John Child returns to England and his Massachusetts ironworks business fails causing an economic downturn in the colony. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Since biblical law sometimes conflicts with the law of the land, the rule I follow as an Orthodox Jew is: "The law of the land is the Law." Biblical commandments often have more than one way to accomplish them. If I have a choice I am REQUIRED to perform the commandment in a way that does not violate the local law. If I have no choice, I must move away rather than violate biblical law. So... what happens when the Bible says XYZ is a capital crime? Simply put, one is only required to execute people who are convicted in a capital case in a formal court of law. Thus, if I kill someone in the street, I will not be put to death until AFTER I am convicted... even in Texas. It depends on the evidence, the reliability of the witnesses and extenuating circumstances. The Bible does not dictate what the rules of evidence are. In traditional Jewish Law the rules of evidence are draconian in a capital case. It is obvious that Jewish courts do not not want to put people to death.

The Praying-to-God Indians of New England

As one might imagine, the Puritans of New England have been trying to convert the local Indians for some time, and the Indians have been rather bored with the whole business... until now. The Reverend John Eliot of Roxbury, is being called the 'Apostle to the Indians.' What is his secret? He has learned the Algonquin language and has translated the Bible and critical religious documents into their language. He hasn't converted anyone yet (or there is no documented evidence that he has yet) but it is clear that the Praying-to-God Indians will need a place to live apart from other Indians. Experience has shown that Christian ritual practice tends to undermine the Indian social structure of the medicine man and the pow-wow because, frankly, Christian prayer is considered the cure for sorcery and takes the place of medicine men. Reverend Eliot has bought some land so that the Praying-to-God Indians can establish their own churches and government apart from the non-Christian Indians. In the modern day, the site of the first "Praying Town" is called Natick, Massachusetts which is in the Greater Boston Area. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
A Native American Indian named Waban is documented to be the 1st Indian convert in New England. (Remember that the Spaniards had been converting Indians to Christianity for years prior to 1646.) Some historians called Waban the chief of his tribe. It is not clear what Waban was but he was not a chief. He and another Indian were critical in converting over 1,000 Indians to Christianity, but the Praying-to-God Indians were dispersed a few years later after the 1st Indian War. (The war was not between the colonists and the Praying-to-God Indians but their conversion caused a lot of tension with the other Indians.) Waban, Massachusetts is named after the same Indian convert. [9] [10] [11]

The Gunpowder Safety Tip of the Day!

Do NOT store so much gunpowder in a single place that a lightening strike will blow your castle sky high, killing everyone in it and damaging the surrounding city. Bredevoort Castle (or what is left of it) still resides in the Netherlands. [12] [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Serpentine gunpowder was still in use in the 17th century. It tended to separate and be very dusty. The danger of random sparks setting off gunpowder was greatly reduced with the process of corning which involves adding water and grinding the gunpowder slowly and ever so carefully. (Please don't consider this description as actual directions on how to do corning. I don't want your spouse picking pieces of what is left of you out of the trees.) [14]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1646, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Measuring Worth - Purchase Power of the Pound. measuringworth.com (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “In 2014, the relative value of £200 0s 0d from 1646 ranges from £29,060.00 to £8,360,000.00.”
  2. Bernard Bailyn. The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600–1675. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 9780307960825. “The Remonstrance was signed by seven men of varied religious background: two were Presbyterians, one was faithful to the Church of England, and the rest were Congregationalists of somewhat unsure commitment. All of the signers, and those who supported them, had grievances against the Puritan regime.” 
  3. Lonkhuyzen, Harold W. Van (September 1990). "A Reappraisal of the Praying Indians: Acculturation, Conversion, and Identity at Natick, Massachusetts, 1646-1730". The New England Quarterly (The New England Quarterly, Inc.) 63 (3): 396-428. http://www.jstor.org/stable/366370. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  4. Silverman, David J. (April 2005). "Indians, Missionaries, and Religious Translation: Creating Wampanoag Christianity in Seventeenth-Century Martha's Vineyard". The William and Mary Quarterly (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture) 62 (2): 141-174. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3491598. Retrieved September 17, 2015. 
  5. John Eliot and Nonatum. Brighton Allston Historical Society (2013). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “In the 1646 to 1674 period, the Reverend John Eliot of Roxbury, the so-called 'Apostle to the Indians,' converted some 1100 Massachusetts natives to the Christian religion and played a central role in establishing fourteen 'Praying Indian' communities in the eastern part of Massachusetts.”
  6. Waban - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “Waban was born about 1604 at Musketaquid, near the present town of Concord. His conversion to Christianity came on October 28, 1646 (Julian calendar), when the missionary Reverend John Eliot preached his first sermon to Native Americans in their own language in Waban's large wigwam in Nonantum, Massachusetts, and Waban and many of his tribe were converted.”
  7. Sachem - definition of sachem (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “1. a. A chief of a Native American tribe or confederation, especially an Algonquian chief. b. A member of the ruling council of the Iroquois confederacy. 2. A high official of the Tammany Society, a political organization in New York City.”
  8. John Eliot (missionary) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “The first time Eliot attempted to preach to the Indians in 1646 at Dorchester Mills, he failed and said that they, 'gave no heed unto it, but were weary and despised what I said.' The second time he preached to the Indians was at the wigwam of Waban near Watertown Mill which was later called Nonantum, now Newton, MA.”
  9. King Philip's War - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “King Philip's War, sometimes called the First Indian War, Metacom's War, Metacomet's War, or Metacom's Rebellion,[1] was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day New England and English colonists and their Native American allies in 1675–78.”
  10. Promoting and Propagating the Gospel. Jesus College Cambridge (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “On his first attempt to preach to the natives in their own language, in September 1646, the hearers 'gave no heed unto it, but were weary and despised what I said'; but a second, at the wigwam of Waban near Watertown Mill (later called Nonantum, now Newtown), was more favourably received. Eliot was not the first to preach in this way -- others did so successfully at Martha’s Vineyard and the controversial separatist Roger Williams did so at Plymouth and Providence, eventually publishing a Key to the Indian Language -- but Eliot was unique in his persistence and his vision of producing printed publications for the natives' benefit.”
  11. Waban, Massachusetts - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “Waban is one of the thirteen villages of Newton, Massachusetts, a suburban city approximately seven miles from downtown Boston.”
  12. 1646 - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “July 12 – Lightning strikes the gunpowder tower of the castle of Bredevoort, causing an explosion that destroys parts of the castle and the town, killing Lord Haersolte of Bredevoort and his family, as well as others. Only one son, Anthonie, who is not home that day, survives.[2]”
  13. Bredevoort Castle - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “On the forecourt of the castle developed a small city during the time. In 1646 the Powder Tower of the castle was struck by lightning. The explosion did hit the castle and city which was badly damaged.”
  14. Gunpowder - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “Also if the quality of the saltpeter was low (for instance if it was contaminated with highly hygroscopic calcium nitrate), or if the powder was simply old (due to the mildly hygroscopic nature of potassium nitrate), in humid weather it would need to be re-dried. The dust from 'repairing' powder in the field was a major hazard.”

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