Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty

Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul Church State and the Birth of Liberty A revelatory look at how Roger Williams shaped the nature of religion political power and individual rights in America For four hundred years Americans have wrestled with and fought over two concep

  • Title: Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty
  • Author: John M. Barry
  • ISBN: 9780670023059
  • Page: 343
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A revelatory look at how Roger Williams shaped the nature of religion, political power, and individual rights in America.For four hundred years, Americans have wrestled with and fought over two concepts that define the nature of the nation the proper relation between church and state and between a free individual and the state These debates began with the extraordinary tA revelatory look at how Roger Williams shaped the nature of religion, political power, and individual rights in America.For four hundred years, Americans have wrestled with and fought over two concepts that define the nature of the nation the proper relation between church and state and between a free individual and the state These debates began with the extraordinary thought and struggles of Roger Williams, who had an unparalleled understanding of the conflict between a government that justified itself by reason of state i.e national security and its perceived will of God and the ancient rights and liberties of individuals.This is a story of power, set against Puritan America and the English Civil War Williams s interactions with King James, Francis Bacon, Oliver Cromwell, and his mentor Edward Coke set his course, but his fundamental ideas came to fruition in America, as Williams, though a Puritan, collided with John Winthrop s vision of his City upon a Hill Acclaimed historian John M Barry explores the development of these fundamental ideas through the story of the man who was the first to link religious freedom to individual liberty, and who created in America the first government and society on earth informed by those beliefs The story is essential to the continuing debate over how we define the role of religion and political power in modern American life.

    One thought on “Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty”

    1. (Thank you Giveaways!)We Westerners look at chanting Sunni or Shiite Muslims, filling our CNN screens, vowing death to us certainly, but also to each other and think, what barbarians! And, we think, they have splintered so murderously over such pedantry as right of religious succession or some interpretation of a religious text. What barbarians, indeed.If you think that, and think we (you) are not like that, especially if you think that because you are Christian, then read this book.Sometimes t [...]

    2. You know those moments when you realize that the "history" you've believed in not only isn't the whole story, but perhaps is even completely wrong? Yeah. So, you know how the Puritans risked everything to sail across the ocean and colonize America because they believed in freedom of religion? Actually, they left England because the king and those who led the Church of England demanded complete conformity under pain of torture, dismemberment, and death, and they couldn't, in good conscience, conf [...]

    3. If you’re like me, you didn’t know much about Roger Williams before considering this book. Based solely on his status as the founder of Rhode Island, he hardly seems a titan of Anglo history. But Barry makes a very persuasive case that he stands in a direct intellectual lineage from Sir Edward Coke to Williams to John Locke, and that he deserves mention in the same breath as those two titans of the history of liberty. Williams’s contribution was freedom of religion.Creation of the American [...]

    4. This book is probably the definitive work on Roger Williams, which means it was well-researched, detailed, and took me a few weeks to get through. It was so chock-full of information, the task of writing a review of it daunted me, but delaying it has only made things worse because now I've probably forgotten even more. But here are two telling reactions: 1) Roger Williams will be the subject of my next Toastmasters speech and 2) I want to visit Rhode Island on my next family vacation and see as [...]

    5. "I desire not to sleep in security and dream of a Nest which no hand can reach. I can not but expect changes, yet dare I not despise a Liberty, which the Lord seemeth[sic] to offer me if for mine own or others peace." - Roger Williams Is it allowed to man-crush on 17th century protestant ministers? I didn't think so either but I do have to say I have a new historical hero. Why do guys like him never make the final cut in history class?! Well I think I can answer that question; Texas won't be tea [...]

    6. I am seriously into historical non-fiction and am always looking for history that is news to me. I first stumbled onto John M. Barry when I was looking for information on the great flu pandemic of 1918 and found Barry's book "The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History." I thought it was just about the pandemic but I found it to be about so much more; the story of the birth of modern medicine. As they say: "he had me at hello" and I've been a Barry fan ever since. Next ca [...]

    7. Finished reading Roger Williams and The Creation of the American Soul by John M. Barry yesterday. The book is extraordinary in more than one way, not the least of which is its relevance to current events. I've heard of and seen references to Roger Williams and his role in the early colonization of New England, but this is the first work of any kind dealing with him directly that I've read. While reading the book I was reminded very strongly of the old adage about people who refuse to learn the l [...]

    8. One of the most important liberties in the United States has been that of religious freedom. The story of Roger Williams and his fight for what he termed "soul liberty" lay at the root of this freedom. Williams himself was persecuted for his belief in the separation of church and state by the Puritans and Pilgrims who thought that the state should be involved in enforcing church doctrine. There is much here for Christians to learn. What should be our attitude toward state government? Should a na [...]

    9. My son, Dave, gave me this book because Roger Williams(1603-1683) is one of our lineal ancestors (my dad was named Roger Williams Dean after an aunt discovered the genealogical connection)but I've never known much about the man, other than he founded Rhode Island.This is a great book for those who like reading about American Historyd is one of the best I've read on the events leading up to the American Revolution and the founding of our country is an eye-opener. Williams was THE founder of freed [...]

    10. In John M. Barry’s 17th-century European and North American world, Roger Williams stands as a pillar of toleration and a lonely advocate of the complete freedom of conscience. Puritanism in the New England colonies is a monolithic block of religious authoritarianism ruled by divinely-empowered magistrates employing various punishments for nonconformity, including banishment, flogging, torture, disfigurement, and execution by hanging. (And burning, too? It’s hard to keep track.) England offer [...]

    11. When I started this book, I believed the Pilgrims came to the Massachusetts shores because they were seeking freedom of religion; I believed that Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase "a wall of separation"; and I believed that the first amendment was written to keep the church - God/religion, etc. - out of the state. I now know better.Roger Williams was a Protestant theologian studying under Sir Edward Coke when Coke was imprisoned for ideas in conflict with James I. In order to escape his own imp [...]

    12. This is an incredible book! Never have I been so riveted by a history book! I thought that I knew a little bit about our pre- revolutionary war history, having been a prolific reader all my life, but I didn't know anything! I also was not familiar with any of Mr. Barry's other books, but I found out that his other books have won more than 20 awards. In my opinion this book will join them on that list. This book looks at the very beginnings of the conflict over the relationship between the church [...]

    13. Review: Although I am not an historian, I think I have a reasonable knowledge of American history; yet, before reading this book, I knew nothing of Roger Williams. This is a shame, because he was a key figure in our history. Williams was a Puritan in 17th century England. He studied under Coke. He fled England for Massachusetts, running from Archbishop Laud, who wanted to torture and imprison him. But then he fled Massachusetts, again fearing torture and imprisonment, this time from his fellow P [...]

    14. Thank you John M. Barry. It has been a long time since I have read a book that made me use so much of my brain. I had to get out the dictionary a few times for unfamiliar words. This was a very well researched historical account. I learned a great deal about my country and church. It is amazing that someone's ideas and beliefs still shape current decisions even after 400+ years. I did not remember Roger Williams name from any of my school year's history, but it is evident that he was a great par [...]

    15. What I knew about Roger Williams could be summed up in four words: "religious toleration" and "Rhode Island"! But he is a far more interesting and remarkable man than can be summed up so simply. His toleration was astoundingly beyond what even the more tolerant believed in his time. And it was rooted in his belief in human weakness, including his. Error was constant--so how could anyone but God judge others? The state should not judge thoughts and beliefs but acts. And since he believed in an ab [...]

    16. I majored in US History at a New England college, but this book reminded me of how much more there is to learn about history. I especially appreciated the detailed account of Williams' life in England, which so informed his life in New England. This book would be great read with Mayflower, by Nathaniel Philbrick-- in fact, I may re-read that next!

    17. The author is a college classmate of mine from Brown University in Providence, RI and I grew up in the Boston area. Thus, both author and subject were of interest to me. Very well written story of one of the more overlooked Founding Fathers.

    18. Like many Americans, I had known of Williams for years as the founder of Rhode Island and as somewhat of a critic and thorn in the side of those Puritans in the Bay Colony. I finally read this book by John Barry as an attempt to get to know the real Williams and because the title, focused as it was on the "American Soul" intrigued me. I have read Needleman's book on that topic which examined American history from a spiritual perspective and so dove into Barry's book with great expectation. I am [...]

    19. It is difficult to describe my interest in this book. I saw it at the book store and thought "What an odd subject." Yet at the same time it really intrigued me and I had a feeling it would be a great read. It really helped that it was written by John Barry, the legendary author of "The Great Influenza". (I mean that, by the way, he is legendary around this house. Several of my kids have read that book at my suggestion and we revere this author.)And now that I've finished the book it is still dif [...]

    20. A great biography about a great man with not only great ideas but with the convictions and fortitude to put them into action. Like most of us I learned about Roger Williams in school, how he left the Puritans to found Rhode Island and build a society based on toleration of different religious beliefsBut this book shows that there was much more to his story. Much of its beginning dealt with Williams' mentor, the lawyer Coke and how he laid the foundation for many of our current legal and politica [...]

    21. History - straight history . . . not my typical reading material, but this tome came highly recommended, by an equally avid reader whose opinion I respect. she noted Barry's gift for narrative, how he could take an otherwise dry timeline and tell the story - of nations, government, movements, and individuals. I'm widely read in the area of evangelical Christianity, and thanks to my current position, I'm immersed in the worlds of politics and law. John M. Barry's most recent book, Roger Williams [...]

    22. Note: this book was a First ReadI was intrigued by simply the title of this new book. I had taken an Early American literature class in college and read Sarah Vowell's (highly recommended!)Wordy Shipmates so I was vaguely familiar with Roger Williams and the fact that he was one daring Puritan.This book was a great treat just to get to know more about Roger Williams, who definitely isn't as well known as an early American as he perhaps should be. One little quibble I have with this book is that [...]

    23. I've always been intrigued by Roger Williams and his steadfastness regarding the separation of church and state and his founding of Rhode Island. I don't really know whybut his character has always been interesting to me. Anyway, this book is an outstanding look at how Rhode Island, and particularly Roger Williams, withstood the trials and scourges of other colonies, Native American influence, and English intrigues and violence to become the first truly civil society in the world; a model for go [...]

    24. This book was won in the First Read giveaway.This book is only available for pre-order. The release date for this book is set at January 5, 2012This is a look at how Roger Williams helped to shape and revolutionize religion, political power and individual rights in America. I do not remember studying about Roger Williams in my American history class in high school. Nor the class I took in college. But This should be one man that a month could and should be devoted to. The author give life to Ro [...]

    25. This is a great book for making one think about history and religion and democracy in the 15th century.It was slow reading for me in the first third or so likely due to my lack of detailed historical and philosophical depth of understanding. The middle third moved pretty well with the early American activity for Williams - but the last third bogged down again a bit for me due to my lack of biblical knowledge and inexperience with religious philosophies.That being said this book makes the religio [...]

    26. We think we live in trying times. How about living in England and the future US during the 1600s? Puritans leave England and set up a "city on a hill" in Massachusetts but the city explicitly ties Church and State: criticizing the State is seen as heresy; not observing religious rules brings on civil penalties. Along comes Roger Williams, well schooled in dealing with royalty and follower of people thinking about Church and State. Meanwhile, back in England the King is also mixing Church and Sta [...]

    27. Excellent book. Yes, it was a bit longer than what I'm used to and in small print, but it was well worth the few months it took me to get through it. Parts of it were a little drawn out with background information, but the plot really picks up toward the end of part III. Eventually it felt like I was on the journey with Williams nearly 400 years ago, through every twist and turn as he struggled to secure freedom for his colony. This book will likely shatter the Sunday school version you might ha [...]

    28. I feel I am a better person now that I have finished this book about Roger Williams and his work to keep church separate from state. In all of mankindRoger was an amazing philosopher and politician. He learned in his early years how to formulate his tenets and promulgate them to figures of authority. I learned so much about the English Plantations and colonies. This book has become my favored resource about the beginnings of America.

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