Still reading Perry Miller's Roger Williams. In tandem with this week's New Yorker article, about religious right's pressure on separation of church & state.

Roger would have had a lot to say about that. The aggressive proselytizing, which makes Christianity a cultural binding agent rather than a spiritual shriving & quest. A certain worldliness attaches itself to the million-dollar legal & ad-propaganda campaigns. (Then again, who in this world doesn't exude a certain worldliness? Not many.)

The absurd, tragicomic melodrama of relations between religious practices and the practices of society at large... Williams loved to use the "garden & wilderness" metaphor (the church is the garden, the wilderness is the world). This is a useful distinction, which goes back (you might say) even before Christ, to the rite of baptism - which is the sign of repentance, of turning from the ways of the world to the love of God, of recognizing oneself as a child of God before anything else.

There is always this temptation to impose one's landscape (the garden) on the world; to erase that difficult distinction; to create a kind of Christian-imperial fantasy-culture. Williams, on the other hand, loves to point out that the sign of the true Christian is the lamb : the persecuted, not the persecutor.

The power of rhetoric over free inquiry. The willingness to judge & condemn the opponent, the "enemy", in simplistic terms, ruthless castigations (practiced everywhere now, on every side, on every issue).

The first Roger Williams I knew about was the '60s pop musician. I played his fancy version of "Autumn Leaves" as a piano recital. (This was the sheet music:)

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