Friday, September 2, 2011

Fear and Fervor

After reading excerpts from Jonathan Edwards', Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" there are a few items I would like you to reflect upon.

Make sure you treat this like a discussion, not just an individual response. I want you reacting to other people's ideas as well. Answer the following:

1. What images and figures of speech do you find most powerful and persuasive in Edwards' sermon? Why are they powerful (thus, what do they help to emphasize/what is its purpose?)

2. Why did the Puritans value this sermon?

3. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that, "Fear is an instructor of great sagacity and the herald of all revolutions." Is fear a powerful motivator for human behavior? Please list some examples to back up your opinion. (Think about the things you do out of fear)

4. We have been reviewing aspects of Puritan culture-do we see aspects of this culture today? What aspects have we kept from Puritan culture?


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  2. 1. In the first paragraph, Edwards states, "thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell...In short, they
    have no refuge, nothing to take hold of." I think this is the most powerful that this explanation can get. It is very blunt and has the power to scare people into being good. No one wants to go to Hell. It basically says that if you make God angry, you will go to Hell and there is nothing you can do about it. The only thing keeping you from going there is God's will.
    2.The Puritans probably valued this sermon because it told them that they are always doing God's will. It gave them reassurance that they are not the makers of their own destiny. Even if their destiny is bad, at least they don't have to live with the feeling that they don't know what is going to come to them. Also, this gave them a reason to do good in the world and get rid of the bad right this second. They feel that if they help God by getting rid of the bad, then they have earned their place in Heaven. This is basically what happened during the witch hunts. Even if the accused person wasn't a witch, they obviously did something wrong and now they need to be handed over to God so he can throw them into the fiery pit that is Hell.
    3. When fear infiltrates (vocab word woo!) a community, people don't always handle it with grace. Fear makes people lose a lot of their inhibitions. Some turn on their friends in order to save themselves. When people don't know what to do in the face of fear, they automatically freak out. I know when I am afraid, I lose all reason. I yell, I snap at my friends, etc. It's not pretty. In order to stay away from fear, people will do pretty much whatever they can.
    4. The Puritan culture is still around today. There are some religions today that believe God is in charge of everything and if you do anything to make Him angry, you will go to Hell.

  3. 1) Edwards' sermon displays a similar thought throughout the text several times. I think the most powerful of them all is "...and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider's web would have to stop a fallen rock." To me, this seems the most powerful because of the contrasting features of each item. A rock being heavy and a spider web being extremely strong for its size, yet still not even close to being able to hold the forces of the falling rock.

    2) I’m sure Puritans valued this sermon because of its power. The words that Edwards uses to portray what may happen to you after life, and what is happening today, scared the puritans, but at the same time, drove them to do right things so they wouldn’t "fall" into hell. They also valued this sermon because it game some meaning to what they did every day, knowing that if they did things that did not honor god or did not please him, they would be thrown into hell, without warning. They felt the same way about these sermons as we do about studying and parts of school. If you study enough that you are confident that you know all of the information, then the chances are that you will succeed on a test. If you don't study and you know that you don't know the material well, chances are you won't do well on the test.

    3) Is fear a powerful motivator for human behavior? Um. YES! Pretty much any time fear is completely present, we make decisions that get us out of that fear. If someone is threatening me with a weapon, I will be scared and therefore will act MUCH differently than I would otherwise (without someone threatening me). If I just have a fear OF something, that something would also change my behavior. I know some people are scared of clowns (pretty weird, huh? - after all their supposed to be funny), and if one of those people had to choose between walking through a house full of clowns and a house full of ponies, I think we all know what they would do. But fear also effects us in a long term way. I mean the way of fear that affects the way we act all of our lives. This is the type of fear present in the puritans. A God to fear with overpowering control over their destinies.

    4) Some aspects of Puritan culture have been kept today. Besides there being a few actual Puritans left in the world, other religions are similar, but with added functions. I am a Christian, and in Christianity sin is bad (of course). We all know that we all sin at times, and that no one can ever be perfect. Even though some people may try to be as perfect and sinless as they can, they will still sin. In Christianity, sin can be forgiven by God, which is very different from the Puritan culture, where if you did enough wrong to make God mad, he would cast you down into hell.

  4. 1. Edward talks a lot about how God is holding us up above Hell. I think that that is his main point. That, and that it is Go's choice to let us fall into "the fiery pit of Hell" or hold us up and in heaven. Another way he talks about this is by using the anology of a massive storm. If the storm were to hit man would be destroyed/ in Hell. However God in all of goodness holds the storm back and keeps us safe.

    2. I think that the Puritans valued this sermon because what he is saying makes sense. He is saying that is you do God's will then he will protect you and keep you safe from the dangers in the world. And, if you don't do God's will then you will be punished. Also like Mark said Edwards uses many powerful example of what will happen to those who don't. He paints a bleak picture of what will happen to those people. I think that this sermon gave them reasurance that as long as they did nothing bad they would at least be in God's favor when their time came.

    3. Fear is a great motivator for human behavior. Fear is a somewhat uncomfortable feeling for people to experience. Normally when people are uncomfortable they will do whatever it takes to get back into a comfortable situation. If i am experiencing fear it is usually in something that I am not extremely comfortable doing. The way I get out of something like this is go back to what I know because what I already know is not as scary as what is new.

    4. We only see some aspects of Puritan culture today because people have changed their views on a lot of the Puritans' ideas. The majority of people don't believe that you have to be perfect to get to Heaven anymore. However there are still some religions that believe in predestination like the Puritans did. For the most part their culture has faded but there are parts like the idea that God chooses who is saved and who is destroyed that are still around today.

  5. 1.) Throughout this whole reading there is disturbing imagery and freighting words. The powerfulness of this is undeniable. An image that Jonathan Edwards talked about, that stuck in my head was “His wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing less, but to be cast into the fire..” these words are so angry and descriptive. The way the words are written makes me feel like they are being yelled at me. The imagery is powerful because the “fire of Hell” is supposed to scare the world and give a picture of what lies ahead for the sinners. I also agree with Mark about the rock falling in to a spider’s web. The two things contrast each other and saw how close people could come to falling into hell.
    2.) The Puritans probably valued this sermon because it backed up what they believed. It agreed with everything the people lived by. It motivated people to not be sinners because it scared the crap out of anyone. It gave the Puritans a clear picture of what sinners were destined to.
    3.) Fear is absolutely a motivator. Fear can make people to the right thing or fear can make people go completely crazy! Before the witch trials, the Puritans put their fear into positive motivation. They were so afraid of going to hell, that the lived exactly with the word of God. However, during the witch trials things changed. The community turned against each other because they were all living in hysteria. The Puritans lied and blamed everyone around them. Fear motivates people nowadays in both ways. For example if a student was fearful for an exam, they could decide to cheat in order to get a better grade. The student could also make the choice to take the fear and use it to study extra hard. Fear is a personal thing and everyone decides how they use it.
    4.) I don’t think true Puritan culture is still around today. I do however; think some religions were inspired by the ideas from that culture. Puritans are an important part in history and some aspects still survive today.

  6. 1. “The wrath of God is like great waters that are damned for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath…” This statement in Edward’s sermon I believe is the most persuasive and powerful piece of speech in the excerpt, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It is the most powerful due to that it instills the most fear by emphasizing how God’s anger is slowly building towards sinners and that they can do nothing to stop the wrath from rising. Its purpose is to describe that when God gets angry and all his accumulated anger spills out, he’ll lay waste to everything, and the only thing keeping that from happening is his love for the good people.

    2. I believe that the Puritans value the sermon because they want to feel higher up than the sinners and the bad people. The sermon talks about how the wicked were going to get it pretty bad from God, and so the Puritans believed their hardworking lifestyle and going to church daily, was making God happy and keeping his anger at bay. The sermon shows them the negative side or what happens to the other half, and makes them grateful that they are not sinners.
    3. Fear is a powerful motivator for humans, one of the most powerful motivators if not the most powerful motivator of human behavior. Most actions that have been done in history has been done out of fear. Take for instance the 10th anniversary of the terrible event of 9/11. The fear that another terrorist attack might occur has motivated the government to up security everywhere in the United States. Fear is also a huge motivator for the little things too. My physical education teacher is huge, and on the first day of school he told us all to bring a lock, and if we didn’t there was going to be a personal problem between him and the unlucky kid. While he said “personal problem”, he was flexing his neck and cracking his knuckles. It was pretty funny but it made everyone know that they didn’t want to get on his bad side. The next day everyone brought a lock even though some would have procrastinated and brought it in later. That shows how human behavior was motivated by fear.
    4. I don’t think Puritan culture is around today. I have not seen any aspects in modern times.

  7. 1. "... you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours." This quote is one of the most powerful lines in this excerpt, to me. I say this because he is comparing Gods point of view of something and how bad it is to how we would see something with as much impact. This quote tells us that we have done wrong to God but he has decided for some unknown reason to keep us on this earth. Edwards is also saying that he can get rid of us, by a simple move of his hand.

    2. The Puritan people valued this sermon because of the truth it told and the help it gave them. It was like a cheat sheet about God and how the different things we do make him mad, but most importantly the things that might happen if for some reason he did not want to have certain people on earth because of how they recently acted. This helped them when they thought about how they wanted to go to heaven and how they needed to act a certain way so that hell did not rain down on them. This sermon also helped them learn more about how much they depend on God and how they depend on his forgiveness.

    3. Fear is definitely a motivator. Many peoples actions can relate back to fear and how that fear resulted in their actions or words, good or bad. Fear can be positive, as in the fear to fail makes you try harder, but most of the time it is talked about as something that is holding you back or results in a bad ending. Fear can prevent you from talking to someone. This might be because you don't want to say the wrong thing or sound dumb when saying it. The problem this causes is that many people hid behind that fear and they never get away from it.

    4. We don't see many, but there are still some around. For example the gravestones we recently looked at or how there are still people around that have a strong belief for the words said in the excerpt. The Puritan belief has gone away, but there are still a few ideas that stay in society. It is still taught in many religions, that God determines your place, so when on earth, you need to be conscious of the actions you make and how it affects his decisions.

  8. 1. For me, the imagery of the spider or "loathsome bug" provided the best description of what Edwards is trying to say in his sermon. He provides the thought that God despises humans and can exterminate of them at any time he chooses. And the truly horrifying part is that no one knows when he may decide, so it is crucial that all Christians are one their best behavior 24/7. We have all killed bugs before and we know that their is nothing the bug can do to prevent ourselves. The bug must simply hope we are feeling merciful that day. The fear of the unknown is what drives this sermon because Edwards is telling his church that this is out of their control.

    2. The Puritans valued this seminar because it generated fear. The center of Puritan beliefs is that God will only spare a few lucky souls and the rest are sentenced to hell. This gave them a justified reason to work so hard and be studious because God may not completly hate them. It also introduced children into the relgion who may not yet understand the fear of God.

    3. Fear is an extremly powerful motivator. It causes people to show their true charecter which may not always be the highest. For example, look at tradgedies such as Titanic. Many third-class passengers were stranded because no one had the courage to go and save them, they feared that they themselves would become trapped. People are fearful of change or uncertain absolutes, such as thier safety, money or even their lifestyles.

    4. In todays modern society, certain aspects of Puritan culture remain. People still believe is God, however their is no loner of sense of fear tied to the idea. The Puritans constantly were driven by the fear of being punished but today, everyone lives for themselves and in the moment. Behavior such as this would be punished severly in Puritan culture.

  9. 1. This piece is written with a strong use of metaphors infused with the author's passionate tone. He uses a variety of images that evoke fear in the readers. The main picture I captured from the reading is the big, strong hand of God holding one over the blazing fires of hell. "There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open..." Jonathan Edwards personifies hell as an angry beast ready to swallow one up at any moment. Edward states, "Your wickedness makes you as if you were as heavy as lead..." Another metaphor of a heavy rock falling through a spider's fragile web creates the feeling of hopelessness. As if you have no choice but to plunge into the depths of the raging fires of Hell that Edwards describes. The God he describes sounds impulsive and spiteful and would be willing to release anyone to the underworld at any given time. "The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart and strains the bow..." These powerful images make one cling to their God by provoking fear.
    2. I agree with Mark. The puritans valued this sermon because it provided purpose for their lives, a central focus, and something to live for. The powerful words touched them emotionally. They felt the words speak to them on a personal level and affect the choices they made every day. I also believe that the words of the sermon brought them together as a community over the fear that was instilled in each individual.
    3. Fear is one of the most powerful influencers in my opinion. Alyssa and Hannah make excellent points when they say that fear can either lead people in a positive or negative direction. For example, the fear that something terrible might happen to our homes, cars, or health encourages us to buy insurance and be protected in case disaster strikes. If no one had those scary stories about car accidents, hurricanes, or fatal diseases, then no one would be motivated to pay money to be protected. In other ways, fear creates hysteria and can create negative outcomes. Fear that one is not superior to another causes people to commit crime, murder, and theft. Fear creates a sense of urgency in people and makes them impulsive in their decision making.
    4. I think that Puritan culture has been reworked into the different religions we believe in today. Christianity still believes in a heaven and hell, but the aspects that surround it have shifted. Ultimately, people still believe in a God which is probably the biggest aspect of Puritan culture in our societies still.

  10. 1. An image and figure of speech that was most powerful was the “Hand of God.” The Hand of God talks about how everyone starts off in the Hand of God but, if a sin is committed, they are dropped out of the hand into the fiery flames of Hell. It gives you a picture perfect image of everyone trying to stay in balance on this hand before falling to their death if they make one mistake. The metaphor that describes the hand, “than a spider’s web would have to stop a fallen rock.” This explains how once you fall from the hand there is no stopping. This quote adds to the image of the need to remain on God’s Hand.

    2. I think the Puritans valued this sermon because it showed them power, and restated their beliefs in this one, short sermon. It also showed how if they did something wrong, they would be punished. This fear motivated them to not sin.

    3. In some situations, fear can be a powerful motivator, but it can also be something that keeps you from striving, growing, and accelerating. If your fear is of failure, then you are going to try as hard as you can to keep going. Or maybe you’re afraid of the future, you want to have that reassurance that you don’t have to be afraid, so once again you try your hardest. Maybe your fear is to leave your house, then in this case, you fear would not be a powerful motivator, it would only bring you down.

    4. Puritan culture still exists in our society today in any ways. One way, is some people still believe that if someone commits a sin, you go to Hell. Also, that God is in charge of everything and determines where you go in life.

  11. 1. The main image brought to my attention was the image of flames licking around sides a massive hand holding the peoples of the world. The hand of god. This image seemed embedded in every word John wrote, sunk into every sentence. Powerful in the fact that it was his sole point. That God's unreasonable mercy was the only thing keeping us from the eternal flames of hell.

    2. The Puritans obviously took their religion seriously, as they should, but looked down on each other for they're sins rather than forgiving and praising each others good lives. This mentality of "I'm more pure than you are" led to sermons like this being popular and valuable to the puritans. John Edwards sermon was naught but a warning to non believers, this is how it is sucks to be you. Almost like telling a child of the dangers of fire. The It's not as good as you think it is speech, but this plays a double game, beyond scaring the non believers or slightly unorthodox into submission and belief, it raises the "Good" Puritans above the rest, and made them feel superior to others.

    3.Fear is the catalyst for more of human action and inaction than it is maybe given credit for. Of all our instincts in is the one given much more sincerity, the one reacted too by people most. Almost every action is a result of fear. Either conquering it or the opposite giving in to it.

    4. Puritan culture itself has all but died out, but many of their views and beliefs remain that i have noticed is the "i'm better than you are" mentality. keeping up with the jones is an example of that. Otherwise it hasn't survived all that much in modern society

  12. 1. The followinging quote: "...neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up..." is a very powerful quote in this passage and adds to the terrifying message and mental image that came across to me as a reader while I was reading the passage. The mention of hell being a "gaping hole" waiting for you clearly shows the belief that people held at this time in history, which was that there was no avoiding destiny and if you were destined to go to hell, there was no turning back; you were going to end up there no matter how many good deeds you performed. Also, the fact that "hell will swallow you up" is another figurative writing technique that goes to further tell the reader that hell is waiting to take you and the flames are reaching out to you during life on Earth. These are very powerful words and are what drove people to live with a sense of paranoia and fear that they did.

    2. Puritans valued this sermon because in their eyes, it was the pure truth and warned them of what was to come for them. Like Lauren C said above, the fear the passage instituted in them drove them to not be sinners and to live by God's word in every second of their lives. I think that the whole puritan lifestyle was kind of a joke because no matter how hard you try not to sin and how holy you think you are, evryone does sin and in the Bible, it is made clear that people are sinners and there is nothing anyone can do to change that. The holiest Puritans had a false sense of accomplishment in their lives.

    3. Fear is definately a motivator of human behavior. We do things out of fear each day. A couple of examples of how fear determines me is like if I go out with friends, I make sure I am back when my parents want me to be back in fear of the consequences that I will receive if I am not home on time. I get all of my homework done and in on time in fear of receivin gbad grades and not learning anything, which affects my future and well being.

    4. Aspects from all previous cultures are carried out today in society. The base of every culture has to come from somewhere, so everything we know today is dervied from the same thing, it is just altered by each generation and shaped by new technologies and ideas. Things that still exist from the Puritan culture are the importance of religion in some people's lives. I myself am a very religious person and try to live my life to its fullest in God's light weach and every day. I know many other religious people who do the same. Values haven't changed- just the extent that people live out their beliefs has changed and is not as intense.

  13. 1. Across the board most people talk about a quote that stood for the meaning of the message, but I think that Edwards’ use of similes and metaphors continually evoked fear within the listener/reader. Edwards was bombarding the audience with similes and metaphors, stinging them each time with a new wave of fear- just like salt in an open wound. For example he used multiple in just one sentence. “The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire…” Edwards relates the audience and a spider, insect, and unworthy. Downgrading the audience by similes and metaphors make them realize how they have turned away from God and scared them back onto His path.
    2. I agree with most of the responses- the Puritans valued this sermon because it backed up what they always believe and scared them into always staying on God’s side. The Puritan society was brought together through this sermon; their values were justified. They had more reasons to do everything for God. One being, so that God would not throw them into Hell.
    3. Fear is a huge motivator! In all aspects of life there are all different levels of fear. You can be scared of something, like being scared of spiders and clowns. Usually if people are afraid of a thing it is because of what the thing could do. They do not want the spider to bit them or clown to attack them. But, people can also be afraid of an activity. For example, being in a plane. They are most likely scared of heights and other people controlling where they are going. Personal I try to not let fear overcome me. I use to be afraid of roller coasters. I was pressured out of my fear. While all of my friends were on the coasters I always sat and watched. One day I asked myself-why am I afraid of roller coasters, what are they going to do, kill me? I forced myself to go on a roller coaster. Some of our actions are created from fear. I am a very competitive person so one of my drives to get good grades is the fear that others will beat me.
    4. Aspects of Puritan culture still linger in today’s society. They are hidden by everyday experiences and no longer are tied to the religion. But just as the Puritans were driven by fear to follow God’s word, people today are driven by fear to carry out activities. Puritans use to do the best at work and school- that has not changed for most people. Now some urn for money and material possession more than a good afterlife.

  14. 1) I think the most powerful image continually portrayed throughout the sermon would be God’s hand holding you over the fiery depths of hell. The idea that at any moment God could quickly move his hand and let you fall to your everlasting burning death would scare anyone. This image puts more than fear into the men and woman of this time period. Jonathan Edwards was able to play off of their biggest fear in life and therefore this article controlled them afterwards. His argument persuades them to not provoke God any further thus potentially saving them or at least putting off hell for a little bit longer.
    2) Puritans value this sermon for a few reasons. I think that they value it mainly because it reassures them that they aren’t in control and therefore they know that they have to always be perfect just in case. If they do not give their best to God, he will put them in hell. This sermon tells them that everything they believe is true. It convinces them that everything they believe is true through fear.
    3) Fear is the most powerful motivator in the world. Fear controls people. When you are afraid of something, it never leaves your mind; therefore it dictates your every move. That is motivation for everything right there. Fear dictates the small and large things in life. For example, the fear of getting a bad grade. On a small scale your parents will be mad, but on a large scale you might not get into a good college which could therefore change the whole course of your life. It was the same way with this sermon. If you do something bad, you will not only have consequences for a short time, but you will have to burn in hell for that decision. Fear does not just motivate people, it owns them.
    4) Today’s society has kept some of the same values but for different reasons. Once again, fear is a huge part of both time periods, however we fear different things. The Puritans obviously feared hell. Now, there are so many different religions, fear of hell is still pertinent but it is definitely not the only thing that is feared by society collectively. Today, I think people fear the government and each other. They fear power, which also applies to the Puritans regarding God’s power, and what power and do to them if they do not obey it. All in all, we still hold many of the same values that the Puritans once did, but for a wide array of reasons.

  15. 1. Edwards uses very strong images to evoke fear in his audience. The most fearful image for me was in the first paragraph “That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide gaping mouth open…” In this portrayal of God, he is unmerciful and fearful, and yet he holds our destiny suspended over the flaming, miserable depths of hell. The use of fear gives these images purpose; Edwards talks about how awful hell is, instead of painting a pretty picture of heaven as a motivator.
    2. I agree with Alyssa, that the Puritans valued this sermon because it told the blunt truth about heaven and hell and didn’t sugarcoat anything. Also, I agree with Victoria that this sermon generated fear, which gave it power and purpose. I fall asleep every Sunday when my priest tells me how to be nice to my neighbor, but if he was screaming about the torments of hell I think I would be slightly more inclined to listen.
    3. Fear is definitely a major motivator for human kind. For example, instead of simply obeying the laws, we must be threatened by the consequences of not following them (jail, fines etc.) to consider maybe just doing the right thing. Think of how much easier it would be if the entire world just did the right thing without being threatened with consequences…like the souls in the book The Host by Stephanie Meyer.
    4. Rae makes a good point that aspects of Puritan culture are still around today, like devotion to religion, although they might not be as intense as what the Puritans believed in. In most (if not all) forms of Christianity, the goal is to get to heaven by living a holy life and avoiding hell, just like the Puritans believed. Based on the sermon, the Puritans may have been a little more graphic about the miseries of hell, but the same basic premise still applies.

  16. 1.Edwards uses many metaphors and similes throughout the entire sermon to emphasize how humans should fear God’s power because, “…you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.” He also gives the allusion that you could fall into hell simply with the withdrawal of God’s hand. He brings humans down to such an insignificant level and paints the picture that they are just the pawns of God’s game and He can toss them to and fro as he sees fit, especially when he is angered. His words brought an old fashioned balance to mind, one extra grain of rice on one side and the entire scale is ruined and spills; just as one misstep in the eyes of God turns into spending an eternity in hell.
    2. The Puritans valued this sermon because it showed the power of God in predestination, and affirmed their many of their beliefs in that humans were impure and subject to harm from Satan. It is probable that they valued it because it showed the wrath of God and acted as a perfect form of coercion to keep each individual in the society conforming to the rules set out for them by the church. Victoria brings up an excellent point; it could have served as a form of fear of God and his power, which is ironic because most people involved in religion now a days have a greater fear of the devil.
    3. I think that fear is one of, if not, the most motivational and influential factor in human life, next to money. Fear drives people to act like someone they are not, and to make choices that would never be made under normal circumstances. It is human nature to avoid things that scare us and may cause pain because it causes discomfort; therefore fear can motivate you to try as hard as you possibly can to avoid those things. Fear motivates me to work very hard in school because I feel that if I perform poorly throughout my education I will not have a bright future; it drives me to act safer and to not make rash decisions because an unsuspected outcome may result from it.
    4. I see that fear of hell is just as eminent now as it was back in the puritan culture. Many religions use it as a motivation for people to act a certain way or to do certain things. The aspect of being afraid of God’s power is no longer around, but people rather embrace Him and see Him as a guide and help instead of being afraid of what He might do when angered. Some religions also still believe in predestination.

  17. In this passage, author Jonathan Edwards uses numerous gruesome words to express his passion about the socially immoral, or “sinners.” He never really describes what warrants a sinner, but rather focuses exclusively on how evil these people are and what eternal torment awaits them after death. Edwards describes Hell as a “the world of misery, [a] lake of burning brimstone.” He spends the entire passage condemning these people, seemingly for the purpose of scaring others from getting on his, and thus God’s, bad side. “The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God…” Wait, I thought that wrath was one of the seven deadly sins. This strikes me as ironic.

    Modern Christians use the lovely images of Heaven and Pascal’s wager to induce a need to follow their teachings. It would seem that Christians of this time did not use the concept of Heaven to motivate their people, but rather that of Hell to scare them. This seemed, ultimately, to be more effective. Maybe that’s why, when discussing religion with a non-believer, the subject of going to Hell always comes up, but when discussing religion with fellow Christians, the subject is always about how wonderful Heaven is. Interesting.

    The Puritan culture did not tolerate non-believers. This passage would do an effective job of scaring people into submission with its talk of eternal pain and suffering at the hands of God. Ironically enough, it does not mention how sending souls to Hell is the Devil’s doing. Maybe this is a modern distortion of the Bible’s word. Today, God is benevolent and loving. This sermon shows that the Puritan’s God was a very judgmental and mean person.

    Yes, of course. I honestly do not see how one could argue that fear is not a major factor in human behavior. I wonder if a single student would actually disagree with Emerson here. Fear is derived from the will to live, which is the most primal instinct that a human can have. As much as I would love to say that mankind is beyond the source of his evolution, this is not the case. Fear drove the men of pre-Neolithic times to run away from the lumbering saber-tooth tiger. Fear caused Nazi Germany to commit genocide on the Jewish population and the United States to persecute Japanese-Americans throughout the time of the “greatest generation.” This is the basic will to live and succeed behind these actions.

    Religion, especially Protestant Christianity, is still deeply rooted in this country. This culture of needing a sense of higher purpose through the worship of deities predates the Puritans into antiquity, however. While the fundamentals and the level of seriousness at which the Bible’s word is taken may have changed over time, the basic idea that one must enforce and impose his religion onto others remains constant.

  18. 1. The image that I received as the strongest is the fact that God and his mercy is all that is holding us up from eternal suffering. There is nothing but his hand between us mortals and the depths of Hell. I see everyone hanging on for life to his hand. Everyone. Even the most holy people and mass murderers as well. We are all equal in the hand of God. We all depend on him not to drop us or slip.

    2. The Puritans probably liked this sermon because it showed that even though they were so close to the pits of Hell, the will of God was keeping them safe above it. The reassurance of this fact is probably what made the Puritans like this sermon. The sole idea that God was there keeping them safe. No matter what, you wouldn't be let out of God's protecting hand, you were safe.

    3. I think free is a huge factor in human motivation. No one can honestly say that fear has never motivated them to progress. For example, the Cold War. The United States and the USSR were deathly afraid of each others nuclear weaponry so they both bulked up military and waited for the other to blink. This fear created massive advances in technology and surreal amounts of military. Communities came together and built bomb shelters. Everyone was motivated and pitched in out of fear of what power the Soviets might of had.

    4. We still see Puritan culture today in the modern world. I'm sure there are some people who still live and breathe for Him. Who do everything asking themselves if He would approve. Living in fear of what may happen if they provoke Him. Not only are there still extremely devoted people to God, there are plenty of people who attend church and live mildly to His word. In essence, the Puritan culture is to live for God, and there are still plenty who follow that principle.

  19. 1. Honestly, I think almost everything he says is powerful. This sermon is just one long metaphor saying that you are in God’s hand, and you are lucky that God has let you live for this long. If you do something wrong, then poof! you’re going to hell. It almost reminded me of a choose your own adventure. You can be A) Shot in the heart. B)Roasted over an open fire. C)Swept away by an enormous flood. One of my favorite metaphors is when he compares the wrath of God to a dammed river or lake, and the longer it’s dammed the stronger it will be when the dam breaks. This provides a stronger image in my head then some of the other metaphors, partly because it reminds me of The Lord of the Rings.
    2. I think Puritans value this sermon because it gives background of what they really believe, and who they really are. It shows that they’re not just afraid of going to hell, they’re afraid of burning and death and torrents of fiery magma, not just a place called hell. I also think they value this sermon because they’re belief stems from fear, so this is a depiction of what they should actually fear.
    3. Fear is by far a powerful human motivator, and people always act because of fear. Heightened airport security happened because of a fear of another terrorist attack. For a more local example, if I see a spider, I’ll scream and kill it even though it didn’t harm me or do anything to hurt me. Fear is a dangerous emotion.
    4. I think irrational fear which drove the Puritan society still exists in society. I think the main aspect of Puritan culture is embracing fear. In America we embrace fear and accept it. Like I mentioned above airport security has been heightened to an extreme amount all because of fear of a terrorist attack. I’m watching the news right now and 3 people have been arrested because 3 people acted suspiciously by staying in the bathroom for long times. This is like the witch hunts. The puritans convicted woman, men, and dogs for acting suspiciously.

  20. 1. The strongest image that affected me was the one where God is described as a God that "abhors you" and is "dreadfully provoked. Jonathan Edwards describes God as holding mankind above "the fiery pit of hell." It gives the impression that God is the only thing between mankind and eternal suffering. Edwards uses the image of hell to invoke fear into his audience, and inspiring them to become Puritans.

    2. The Puritans most likely placed value on this sermon because placed emphasis on their value of predestination. It makes an example of how God is the deciding factor in who is sent to hell and who is sent to heaven. The sermon also showed the power of God, indicating that he was all powerful. The sermon gave them a reason to live as the church said they should. If they didn't live the way that god liked, they thought they would be tossed into hell.

    3. I agree with Emerson's idea of fear. Fear can be a very powerful motivator, and causes people to do things they would not normally do. I agree with fear being one of humanity's most primitive instincts, as the will to live which was mentioned by Joe. Fear can cause people to blame others, panic, and can cause them to live their lives differently. With fear in the picture, people change their behavior and may turn to others for help/push others away.

    4. In the modern world, there is still some aspects of Puritan culture. Parts of the Puritan religion live on in Christianity and some other religions. Now, fear is used by other things to motivate people, such as the government, businesses, and schools.

  21. 1.The many different images of God’s wrath show his true powers. The images of his wrath like great waters ever growing stronger, the image of his wrath being an arrow aimed directly at your heart, and the image of him holding you over the pits of hell all evoke fear in the reader. These images over power your mind creating illustration that can rattle you with fear and almost make you believe it could actually be real.
    2.The Puritans valued this sermon for a few reasons. It shows how they believed in predestination how God had decided your fate before you were ever born. It also shows how much power God has in how he could take away everything as they believed he could. Lastly it showed how insignificant humans are and how no matter what we do we could never stop ourselves from going to hell without God’s help. All of these were strong values instilled in Puritans.
    3.I believe fear can be one of the strongest motivators to man kind. Fear can cause people to do things they might not dream of doing if they weren’t scared. Example of this was the Red Scare in America in which people turned on each other and told lies out of fear for what would happen to them. Another example of this is the fear after the Colombian school shootings, some people were so scared after it happened they wouldn’t bring their children to school for days.
    4.Today there are a few aspects of Puritan culture left. Faith is still a strong factor in peoples live but the fear of God is less prominent now then it was then. Puritan morals have somewhat diminished over time do to the wrath of God becoming less of a threat. This has been shown through the dwindling of accountability for moral responsibility from one generation to the next.

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  23. 1. The metaphor of God holding people over the fire of hell like a spider struck me as the most powerful part of Jonathan Edwards' sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." I have seen a spider tossed into a fire and with that the writhing and suffering of burning. In seeing how much pain fire can cause, I feel compelled to do as much as I can to make sure God doesn't decide to let me go. The part directly after the spider metaphor was very powerful also when Edwards says, " are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours." I agree with most of what Victoria said except for the thought of this entire sermon being horrifying. This was humbling because according to Puritans we are extremely flawed and yet God still keeps us around.
    2. The Puritans valued this sermon so much because it basically gave them a reason to live the life that they lived. Their whole lives were centered around God so there were not a great amount of worldly pleasures in their lives. The vivid descriptions and strong topics of the article really can be persuading, and as a result probably were used both to teach their younger generations and convert new believers. The people the sermon educated probably were impacted to the point where they would be happy for every second they were alive rather than worry about pleasuring themselves.
    3. Fear is definitely a motivator for people to take action. Just a couple minutes ago I was on ESPN's website and I heard my dad walking up the stairs. I was fearful that he would get mad at me for procrastinating and getting off topic, so I came right back to the blog. If I had no fear of my dad getting angry at me I probably would have checked the rest of the NFL scores and seen if there was any other news, but rather, I just know Cam Newton had a pretty good game. If fear provoked something as small and silly as changing websites it can cause many other actions. For example, the terrorists from 9/11 feared they would not find favor from Allah unless they attacked America. It’s like Mark said, fear from ponies to guns affects the actions that people take.
    4. One aspect of today directly from the Puritan culture is the want to do the right thing. This country was rooted in the Puritans and their initiative to do everything right has been passed down through all the generations of America. I think that our nature to reform and sometimes rebel in culture today may have had a little to do with Puritans too. The Puritans wanted to reform the Christian beliefs of England so they rebelled and went their separate way. Since swimming against the current has made America what it is today I can't help but think that the Puritans instilled a little bit of that attitude into America.

  24. 1. Throughout the passage, Jonathan Edwards’ most powerful technique is his use of imagery. For example, Edwards states, “There are black clouds of God’s wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder.” Edwards uses this image to initiate the feeling of fear inside of his audience. These words make his audience feel like they are trapped—like there is nothing to do but to obey, because ultimately, “ [if] it were not for the restraining hand of God, [the storm] would immediately burst forth upon you.”
    2. I think that the Puritans valued this sermon because it created fear. Edward’s sermon was a representation of how strong they believed God to be. To the Puritans, God controlled every aspect of their lives: He was the one who predetermined their destiny; he was the one who decided to hold them “in his hand” or let them crash down to hell. This fear of the unknown drove the Puritan’s follow what they believed to be God’s Will in order to avoid a horrific afterlife of burning in fire.
    3. Fear is a powerful motivator for human behavior. Fear makes people do crazy things. In Salem, for example, people’s fears of the devil (which was ultimately the fear of going to Hell) lead people to accuse their friends, family, and townsmen of witchcraft. With fear as a motivator, people can become panicked, irrational and exaggerate about a situation that would normally be of little significance.
    4. In the world today, the strongest aspects of Puritan culture are seen through religion and faith. I think that in some sense people still have fear about life after death. But, the will to do good through God has also been carried on from Puritan beleifs. In many cases people use their religion as a motivator to help those in need, as well as to encourage themselves to live the best life they can.

  25. 1) When Edwards was talking about holding a spider over a fire, I imagined myself as the spider. If that is what I believed God was doing, then I would be worshipping him much like the Puritans were. I can imagine a tiny version of myself looking up at God wit pleading eyes. The images are reminding us of how small we really are. Whether it be compared to God, or compared to multiple people united as one.
    2) The Puritans valued this sermon because it reminded them that one little mistake could make God drop you into the fiery pits of Hell. They were so fearful of the future that they created this image in their heads. With the image constantly haunting them, the Puritans wouldn’t dare sin.
    3) Fear is probably one of the top motivators for human behavior. I always hear people say, “You only have one life, so life it to the fullest.” But in reality, people are fearful of what is going to happen to them when they die. Or not as far into the future, what will happen to them after college? It could be fear of someone else too. What will this person do if I don’t do what they say? If fear isn’t the motivation behind human behavior, then it is self-profit.
    4) A few aspects of the Puritan culture are still around today. Lots of people still go to church every Sunday and are actively involved with their church. But we also live in a less strict society so people today don’t have the same standards or attitudes as the Puritans.

  26. 1. When Edwards talks about God holding humans above the pit of Hell is the most powerful piece of imagery. It shows the Puritans how easily God could just rid himself of the burden of that person, leaving them to be miserable in Hell. The use of metaphor throughout the sermon gives the listeners visuals to relate the idea of Hell and the devil and God. Most are frightening and horrific ideas, urging people to live perfect lives.
    2. The sermon gave the Puritans evidence as to why they should live righteously. It frightened them into subjecting to the strict rituals of their religion, so they wouldn't end up in the Hell described so horrendously in the sermon. When a society is bombarded with such terrifying images, the group would, make an effort not to end up in Hell. It also showed the immense power God had to decide the fate of the weak humans and that the humans couldn't do much to change God's decision but live a good life.
    3. Fear is a HUGE motivator. It changes people in incredible ways. Using 9/11 as an example, figuring as today is the 10 year anniversary, Americans changed their daily lives because of fear. Many became suspicious of Muslim and Middle Eastern people and laws like the Patriot Act were put into effect because people feared their safety. The airports added a huge maze of security checks and long lists of "dangerous items" (like shampoo bottles, I mean really?) in search of bombs. In important buildings (or anywhere in Washington DC) there are metal detectors because of the few people who want to hurt others. Fear motivates a lot in our society. I causes lots of hassles and distrust in our communities.
    4. Puritan culture seems almost a complete 180 degree turn from modern society, but we have in fact kept a few ideals from 400 years ago. Americans are still fearful, not always of God, but always of something. People also just want to live good lives for the most part. Although "good lives" have very different standards today than they did back then, the intent is still there. People also still fear God. They still go to church, and the wrathful God idea may not be as harsh or there at all, but people still and always will respect God in the same way.

  27. 1. What images and figures of speech do you find most powerful and persuasive in Edwards' sermon? Why are they powerful (thus, what do they help to emphasize/what is its purpose?)
    In the last paragraph when Edwards says, "Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell" it gives me a terrifying perception of our relationship with God. It is powerful and yet makes me as a believer feel feel powerless. It sends a message of complete vulnerability to the people. One that I believe would force any logical person into submission.

    2. Why did the Puritans value this sermon?
    They valued it because it reenforced in their mind the importance of obeying God and their values. Also, it helped proved to non-believers the potential consequences of their actions. I bet it instilled in most the fear of hell and the privilege of heaven.

    3. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that, "Fear is an instructor of great sagacity and the herald of all revolutions." Is fear a powerful motivator for human behavior? Please list some examples to back up your opinion. (Think about the things you do out of fear)
    Absolutely fear is a powerful motivator. The most powerful of all, actually. In our country, our whole law-enforcement system is based off of fear. Fear of consequences governs most peoples actions. For example, I am afraid of consequences my parents might impose if I do wrong. It is my fear that keeps me motivated to do right. The power of fear is obvious when it is used in an inappropriate manner. It leaves permanent scars.

    4. We have been reviewing aspects of Puritan culture-do we see aspects of this culture today? What aspects have we kept from Puritan culture?
    Although most aspects of Puritan culture aren't seen in today's culture, some of their principles are used in aspects of today's culture other than religion. As Kendall said, fear is used to motivate businesses, students, and citizens.

  28. 1. In Jonathan Edward’s “From Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” the most powerful statement is, “Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell.” This is so powerful because it shows that the evil inside of us, weighs us down. God’s hand is what lies between heaven and hell. The weight of our soul determines whether we will float up, or drop down into the flames of hell. Edwards infers that God has no sympathy for any of us and won’t make any effort to hold us up after we weigh too much. God may be a god and have the strength, but he knows how much energy to exert when deciding our paths.

    2. I agree with Victoria in her statement saying the Puritans valued this sermon because it generated fear. Since Puritans believed that their fate of heaven or hell was decided at birth, it caused them to fear for the rest of their life where they would end up. It provoked them to live clean lives as they might have a better chance of ending up with God. This sermon also provided a constant reminder to Puritans when making a decision. They can always think about their actions, so they don’t weigh as much as lead when God is saving them from hell.

    3. Fear is a strong motivator for our actions as a person and even as a country. Joe makes a good point stating how fear drives the cause of war. In the buildup to the Vietnam War, the communist party rose in Vietnam, which brought fear to the United States that communism would soon spread throughout Southeast Asia. The war in the Middle East also arose from fear due to the attack on 9/11. Because we feared that the Al-Qaeda terrorists would strike again, we went to the Middle East to stop any of their future plans.

    When I am scared to do something, I usually rely on peer-pressure because my friends and family can motivate me to make decisions. My parents want my brothers and I to achieve good grades. The fear of their high ambitions motivates me to achieve the best in my schooling. I can relate to Emily since I was afraid of roller coasters when I was younger. After many rides of watching my friends ride through the unknown, I noticed that there were smiles on their faces as they went in a loop or down a drop. I told myself that roller coasters were meant to be fun, or else people wouldn’t ride them.

    4. I think we see a lot of aspects of Puritan Culture today. Many people believe their actions on a daily basis lead them to where they will end up. People that remind me of Puritans are Mormons. They make a lot of sacrifices to their religion to ensure they end up in a good place. They may not believe that one sin can leave you burning in hell, but it is a close relationship when thinking of Puritans.

  29. 1) The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God... that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood” (Cowards). This is one of the most powerful statements and metaphors of all time. The fact that the author uses death to threaten the reader makes the reader understand what is on the line, not only their mortal soul, but their immortal soul. It also shows the reader that God wants to amuse himself and therefore keeps people dangling over the pits of hell.
    2) I believe the Puritans valued this sermon because it would scare people into believing in their religion, and because it summed up how they were told to live their lives. The harsh metaphors and the “Cruel” nature of God that is shown in this sermon might just convince people who didn’t believe in God to believe so that they might not be doomed to hell. It also reflected Puritan’s beliefs and, like Hannah B said, showed how hard their day to day life was. They always were thinking about how “your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead” (Cowards). Their day to day life was lived out of fear that God may drop them into hell at any moment. The harsh rules and extreme work ethics would reflect this very well.
    3) Fear is a fantastic motivator. People will do almost anything so that nothing bad happens to them. Ransoms in kidnapping is a great example. People will pay or give almost anything to the bad guys in fear of what will happen if they don’t. I will do things out of fear as well. Like Rae said, I do my homework so that I don’t receive bad grades. I will also listen to my parents so that they won’t ground me. People will also do things that are mean to other people out of fear. In middle school girls in clicks will say incredibly mean things to other people so they fit in and don’t get made fun of. Some people will say, wear, or believe certain things to fit in the group in fear of being outcasts.
    4) In culture today we have very few Puritan ethics, but they still remain. People, in general, are lazier today than the puritans in 1692 and they don’t care as much about death. But we still have some Puritan ethics today. People try to do what is right and some try to work hard to succeed. They may not think they have as much on the line but work hard none the less. I also agree with Natalie, how many of our religions today are based off of the puritan beliefs?

  30. 1) The images and figures that were most powerful in Edwards' sermon were those of Hell. "...and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf," if that's not enough to scare people into being holy and righteous, I don't know what is. He makes it sound as if God could, on a whim, decide to sentence you to an eternity in hell. People will then want to ensure that they do all they can to avoid that fate, scaring them into following.
    2)Puritans valued this sermon because they all wanted reason for their obsessive longing to be "pure". The more pure they stayed in their life, the less likely God would drop them into "the bottomless gulf". The way Edwards worded his sermon was a justification for the way he and others led their lives.
    3)Fear is undoubtedly a major factor in human behavior. If someone is terrified of the dark, they won't walk by themselves into a dark room. The things we fear in our everyday lives effect our actions in as profound of a way, however they may not be as obvious. If someone is afraid of what people think of them they will not raise their hand in class on the off chance the get the question wrong. Their fear of others' opinions drives them away from situations in which they will be judged.
    4)Puritan culture is still a contributing factor in today's world. We are always afraid of what will our superior do if we do something wrong. That superior may be God or it may be our parents, but we always want to do our best to remain on the good side of others.

  31. 1) The most prominent image I encountered was God dangling you over Hell. Edward states, "The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire..." This summed up his whole sermon in a few simple words. Puritan culture is based on the fact thats God decides whether you go to Heaven or Hell. The fact that God is dangling you over a fire like an insect shows that you have no control over your life and you want to please God to the best of your ability. Fear drives the Puritans to make many of their decisions and it seems to be a recurring motif.
    2) The Puritans valued this sermon because it compared their religion to their life. It showed the punishments and what would happen if they didn't follow the bible. They also wanted a way to explain their religion and to understand how to please God. The sermon showed the Puritans how to live their lives.
    3)Fear is definitely a powerful factor in human behavior. It can drive people to make decisions that they normally wouldn't make. For example, if someone is scared off heights, but they want to go on a high roller coaster with their friends; they can either go on the ride or sit it out. By going on the ride, the are showing courage by overcoming their fears, but by sitting out, they are missing a big part of life. Fear can also cause humans to harm others. Lying is usually a result of the fear of being made fun of or getting in trouble. Lying isn't justified, but it is a result of fear.
    4) Some parts of the Puritan culture our still around today. Some religions use parts of the original Puritan culture to influence their beliefs. People still have fear which cause us to act differently. We are also still influenced by social norm and trying to be seen as good or positive to other people.