This Great and Sore Affliction

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In the article “This Great and Sore Affliction” Willard Sterne Randall and Nancy Nahra analyze the controversial religious views of Anne Hutchinson as she dwells in England and later settles in the New England colony, specifically in Boston, Massachusetts. The authors explain Anne Hutchinson’s life and inform the reader about the society of Puritan New England.

The authors thesis of the article is that Anne Hutchinson posed a threat to the power and authority of the Puritan leadership of New England because she is a woman and popular preacher, but mostly because of her religious beliefs: that the ministers were preaching to much about works instead of God’s gift of grace and that she, along with anyone, could communicate directly with God. Anne Hutchinson preached that every person had the capability to communicate with God. This posed a threat to the clerical hierarchy in Massachusetts which had based its power and authority on its role as the middleman between the congregation and God. The Governor John Winthrop did not like Hutchinson’s influence on the people. He sot to destroy her, “Winthrop saw his chance to block Anne's growing influence.”(pg 5). Winthrop supremacy was at jeopardy with another person having such effect on the people of Boston. Her impact could lead to disorder in Massachusetts Puritan society. Hutchinson also proclaim that she could hear god, "By the voice of His own spirit to my soul."(pg 7). This statement got her exiled to Rhode Island. The idea that anyone could speak with god, especially with women, was associated with “witchcraft”(pg 4). Hutchinson’s proclamation threatened the religious theory of Puritan New England and endangered the authority of the clergy, who had gain their power over its people as the “communicators of God”. If people could speak to God themselves they wouldn’t need the clergy anymore and the power and importance of the clergy would be diminished.

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