History 104A, December 2: Like It or Not, We are All Protestant!
What I decide to do, since I got involved with the video tape on
Wednesday, was to do the group meeting first for about 25 minutes.
Come back in between 25 after and 11:30 so we can finish it up. You
have to take a role in the renaissance. You are reborn and decide
where you were reborn or what you were reborn into -- see I have the
Medici family in there I suppose -- and discuss your life at the time.
And then I'll talk about it for a couple minutes to find out who you
were and what you were born into. And then we'll go on and talk about
your anal retentive habits and how we are Protestant even if we're
Catholic or Muslim or Jewish or Hindu if you were born in this
country. In any case, let's break into groups. The papers are up
Let's call our meeting back to order. The group meetings haven't
been the greatest success this semester. Sometimes they work and
sometimes they don't. This is one of the semesters they have not
worked extremely well, so it goes. At least it gives you a chance to
get to know a few people.
A I think they worked.
THE PROFESSOR: They're fun to get together. I'm not sure if
we're getting a lot of material out of them.
A I think it varies from group to group.
THE PROFESSOR: In any case, Sara reminded me of something while
we were talking, about the names during the medieval period. How many
of -- and I guess I really went into it -- how many of the names today
stem from the later medieval period or actually high middle ages
before the black plague when the population really increased? They
took the names from the guilds and from the occupation. In northern
Europe it was Erickson, son of Eric. Throughout much of the west, you
had the name Cooper which was an occupation. Did I deal with this at
all? What is a cooper?
A Barrel maker.
THE PROFESSOR: Shoemaker would be the name -- cobbler, Smith,
blacksmith, goldsmith, silversmith, but Smith, Clerk, Clark. Name a
common name in many parts of England -- Clarks who were clerks. What
others? I found out Kirshner, I thought since kirsch was a cherry in
German, I thought that Kirshner meant cherry picker which sort of
sounded interesting, being Jewish in origin. Kirshner stands for
furrier. There's a big furrier firm in Georgia in the south. I only
know that because of a woman that was working at Radio Shack, so we
learn the backgrounds of our names, anyone?
A My last name is Christian.
THE PROFESSOR: I know you went to a Christian family reunion in
A I would guess that my ancestors were Christian.
THE PROFESSOR: Either that or somebody took the name trying to
prove that they were.
THE PROFESSOR: That's all right. I think it's interesting how
names differ. In Mexico there are a lot of Jesuses which you don't
see. I don't know anybody in this country who names their kid Jesus.
A I've known a few.
THE PROFESSOR: That were not South American origin?
THE PROFESSOR: Yeah, well, I haven't. Most of the time they're
either South America or Spanish origin.
Well, the occupations that some of you took, we had merchants,
kings, and one Pope. Was there more than one Pope? He didn't respond
to my question. I asked him how the women were as Pope. And he said
he didn't know, which of course wasn't necessarily always the case.
All right. I want to talk about a change that took place. We
sort of introduced it with the reformation and tie it to, as I
indicated, the American personality, which by the way, is changing and
has been changing since the 1960s. There is quote/unquote an American
culture. Obviously a lot of it was based on recent immigration, and
then of course other changes have occurred. The earlier immigration
to this country really formulated or formed the basic personality of
America. Now again, there were two basic zones of immigration. We
had the south which was mainly settled by Anglican, the church that
Henry the VIII founded, which was really, in many ways, an English
Catholic church. And then in this country, what is the Anglican
church? What is it known as in this country? The episcopalian. On
the East Coast there are two groups that are very very large as far as
Christian groups are concerned besides Catholics, and that was
Episcopalian and the Congregationalists. The Congressionalists church
stems from the Puritan/pilgrim settlement in New England. You see
it's really different out here. You're all pagans.
THE PROFESSOR: However, going back, the first settlements of
course, Jamestown, 1607, and then of course later in the New England
area with the pilgrims and the Mayflower around starting in 1620 and
then with the Massachusetts Bay colony. Now, when I say that our
personality as a nation has been formed to a large extent, despite the
earlier settlement in the south, the formation of that nation came
about because of the settlement in New England. By pilgrims and
Puritans, which is the difference? Well, basically the pilgrims, the
first settlers there, a small group were not just dissenters but
separatists. They wanted to create their own separate church within
and break away from the Anglican Church. The second group, the
Puritans, were reformers within the Anglican Church. They wanted to
get rid of all papists, Pope doctrine, and make it a truly separate
church and more Protestant background. The Puritans wanted to stay
within the Anglican Church but reform it. The doctrine between the
pilgrims and the Puritans were very similar. They were Protestant
groups breaking away from my papist or Catholic doctrine. Now, we
know that in 1517, October 31st -- we've seen it in the DVD's, et
cetera, Martin Luther posted on the gate door at Wittenberg 95
arguments, theses, in opposition to what he believed to be the
Catholic doctrine. And again, from the videos, you picked up that it
wasn't brand new to him. It had started in the fourth century with a
man called Wycliffe and continued at the beginning of the 15th
century, 1400s, with John Hus in Czechoslovakia or Bohemia, if you
The same concepts came about, but in 1400, in the late 1300s
there was no printing press. What had happened was that the church
had begun to print on the printing press these indulgences that you
heard of. The indulgence was a piece of paper that I mentioned
previously that simply said you have contributed goodwill and grace by
giving money to the church, and this will give you grace. Salivation
came about through doing good works and good deeds. I think I may
have alluded to before, the arch bishop of Mines wanted to obtain more
territory. And the Pope at the time, in 1500, was building St.
Peter's cathedral, obviously an expensive project. Did you visit
Saint Peters when you were there in Rome, the Vatican?
A We were there when the Pope passed away thorough.
THE PROFESSOR: You were there? They've done two shows on the
Pope last night. In any case, one of the things that struck me more
than anything else was walking in and the immensity of the place. And
the guide we had said, well, see where that fire alarm is. I feel
like I could probably go over there and touch it. There were some
birds on the wall. And he said, why don't you go over and try and
touch it. They were at least 30 feet above my head, even though they
looked like you could touch it. It was an immense work in
architecture in that renaissance spending money. This was the wealth
of the church that Martin Luther began to protest. The arch bishop
borrowed money from the German bank house, the fuggers. And they got
permission to tend this guy Tetzel like pretzel around preaching, as I
think I indicated, buy some more indulgences, and then you can safely
pay now save later. And then at a certain point you got all the grace
you need to buy yourself out of purgatory, now get all of your
relatives out of purgatory. Martin Luther advised that they not allow
Tetzel into Germany. And then he did go across the river where people
flocked to pay their snake oil medicine, their immediate salivation
Luther, as you noted, went forth and issued his objections. And
then, when challenged, was swept away and protected by the north
German princes. Now, what have we got? We've got a philosophy known
as justification by faith, faith alone will save you. And the way you
obtain faith was through reading the Bible. And when you read the
Bible, you found Christ and you would do good works and good deeds,
which is the basis of a revolution, men can do all things if you will.
You no longer need intermediaries through priests and saints. You
would have a minister who was an educator, a teacher, and he would
minister to your needs. He would direct you and aid you in finding
things in the Bible. And as it indicated, Luther translated the Bible
into the vernacular German.
Perhaps one of the more interesting books the best known book
about Martin Luther is called Here I Stand that talks about his
philosophy. A German psychologist/sociologist by the name of Eric
Erickson wrote a book called The Junk Man Luther in which he studied
Luther's early life and decided that Luther's life was very
quote/unquote Freudian in the sense that he was anal retentive,
uptight, humorless, constipated -- constipated people tend to be very
serious and then they finally let it all out, they explode. It's like
taking ex-lax, I guess. And so that personality tends to maintain and
keep itself tight. Max Weber argued that Protestantism came out of
Lutherism -- meaning that capitalism came out of Protestantism because
of this uptightness, this willing to hold it all in. And that meant
holding onto your money and investing it, making more money, not
showing it off. It was now allowed to profit from Protestantism. It
broke with the Catholic sense that you only charged a fair price. And
with that, northern Europe changed into a capitalist world.
Of course when we get into this, which came first the chicken or
the egg, the question is that, is it that north European society a
distant society? Do they tend to be more uptight and closed because
of the cold weather, because of the snow? Is it that Martin Luther is
just an extreme, proud of this, or did the development of
Protestantism not only lead to the development of capitalism, but did
it lead to a basically humorless world of uptight people, control
people? Well, it was expanded in a sense the Protestant ethic with a
man called John Calvin. For months the cartoon Calvin and Hobbs is
reappearing in the newspaper. And of course Calvin reflects the
Calvinistic philosophy and Hobbs named after the English philosopher
who said life is short, brutal, and nasty. John Calvin basically
became a Protestant minister and took over Geneva, Switzerland and
became part of the theological political mode of Geneva, Switzerland.
He found something in Luther's writings which Luther did write about
in the Bible. He stated that God or Jesus knew before you were born
that you were either going to be a saint or a sinner. You were either
saved or dammed, and there was nothing you could do about it. And he
proceeded to control people in Geneva, Switzerland. If they sinned a
little even, they were punished in the stockades, flogged, hung.
Now, the Puritans and pilgrims were, in a sense, descendants from
this Protestant descendant Geneva, not free will Christians but free
destined. Those of you who are Christians, have predestination
Christianity and free will Christianity. The Puritans came to America
and set up, in New England, area the king, the City of God on Earth,
where of course they not only used the stockades, they used the
scarlet A to control people for adultery, the scarlet letter of the
Hawthorne book. The pilgrims created, in this world that they
created, an educational system. The first university in the Americas
was Harvard founded in 15 -- I'm sorry, 1636, but a few years after
the Puritans arrived. The Puritans arrived in 1620s. The pilgrims in
1620s. Obviously reading, education became important. It became
important because you had to read the Bible. You had to read the King
James version which was produced only a few years earlier so that you
could find Christ. That educational system, with the founding of
Harvard and then Yale, and then King College which became Columbia in
New York. All of that became the foundation of the institutions of
education. They were originally established to train ministers to
have people go out, like the Matther family in Boston, to educate
people on the Bible. And with that, they went out throughout the
country. They became the professors, the teachers, the educators, the
writers of American society. The first university founded in the
south was almost 100 years after Harvard, even though the southern
colonies had been settled earlier. And most southerners -- the upper
class did not send their children to William and Mary. They sent them
to Europe to get an education. The south was out of that thrust
somewhat, but many of the professors from Harvard, Yale, et cetera,
began to move into William and Mary and the university of Virginia and
other southern schools. And they brought with them this Puritan
sense, the sense of predestination that also created what we call the
Puritan work ethic. What it also created was the need to have white
picket fences and green grass grow in the desert causing a whole new
settlement in Las Vegas with good, green golf courses costing a lot of
There was in the sense of predestination, the sense of the
Protestant work ethics, the concept as well that families began to be
born into it. Certain families were born good and certain families
were born evil. This was known as the halfway doctrine. So if you
were born in the upper class elite like the Bushes, you would
obviously be rewarded by God throughout your life. And it created --
part of this uptightness was because if you sinned a little, that
would mean you were going to hell. There was no way to get over it.
In the Catholic faith, you could go confess your sins and the priest
who tell you to go burn a few candles, say a few hail Mary's and then
God might forgive you. In other words, you felt redemption. You
showed your penance. You asked for forgiveness even if you were a
Maffia chieftain. With that, people were afraid to sin because they
didn't want to wind up in hell because if they sinned in the littlest,
they would be dammed forever. They held it in creating a greater
element of uptightness.
The American society was free. It didn't need external control.
If a Catholic woman, up until a few years back, went out on a date
with a Catholic man or any man but usually Catholic, they had a
chaperone. The chaperone made sure that nothing could occur because
there was sin of the flesh, not acceptable but almost understandable,
so you controlled it by having somebody being there to be sure nothing
happened. In Protestant America, you went out on dates and you didn't
need a chaperone because you took care of yourself. You didn't want
to sin. In fact, in Protestant New England, there was a system called
bundling. And they had a bundling board in a bed that when a boy and
a girl courted -- because it was cold during the winter -- they put
the covers over them and of course they watched TV from there. Now,
the boys never hopped over the board. They never took advantage of
knotholes in the board, nothing.
A For real.
THE PROFESSOR: For real, self-control. Interestingly when the
English Anglican troops came into New England right before the
Revolutionary War, they didn't respect the tradition because they were
basically Catholic. They hopped over the board and caused a lot of
problems. Bundling ceased to exist. By the way, that's why so many
guys are much more willing to go out with Catholic girls than
Protestant girls. Just thought I'd pass that on.
That whole sense of the anal retentive personality has not only
come down to us through the picket fences, the green lawns, the
closest of course we see some of that is with the Amish and the
Mennonites in the Amish country in Pennsylvania. How many of you have
visited that area?
A My brother went there and he took a picture of like deers
crossing but they have one of carriage crossing like be careful.
THE PROFESSOR: What's strange about it is with all of their lack
of wanting to use technology, they all walk around with cell phones
now. I guess that's somehow legitimate. The whole point was to
invest the money, not to show it off, not to show wealth, not to
mammon excessive wealth. And this is reflective in a sense in our
society. We are, in a sense, anal, the culture is anal. Perhaps the
most decorated room in our houses is the bathroom. There's no other
society where you can walk into a bathroom and see wall to wall
carpeting, fancy shower setups, toilet paper that are smelly because
of the perfume, jokes on it because you have to laugh somehow in the
toilet, little soap balls like little cups, furry toilet seats -- I
never could understand that -- sheets you sink into, showers with
radios in them and clocks. Bathtubs you can't fit in because you have
to get into that shower and work shard. If you get in the shower, you
get out fast and you get to work. If you soak in a bathtub, you're
wasting time. A stitch in time saves nine. All of those Puritan
terms that you -- adages that they used to have on the classrooms. A
bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, not a George Bush. A
stitch in time saves nine. How do they go? All of that sense -- it's
so different. You go to some other countries -- southern European
countries or France and guys urinate anywhere.
THE PROFESSOR: They have these walls. The restrooms are outside
and people walk by and a guy is behind the wall. In this country, men
are uptight. We go into a restroom and we've got little stalls. And
if somebody is standing next to us, we get -- we can't tickle. But
you have to pay to use the bathroom there, so maybe that's why. At
the time I went, they had these little old ladies. You go in a
restroom and there was a little old lady who asked you for money. The
strangest thing is a bidet. I didn't know.