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?


  1. 1.The use of imagery in the first paragraph is very prophetic to the ideals in this article. At one point, he uses the phrase " 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; the fire bent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out..." This create a since of ominous death or doom, and you cant help being sucked in. I think the whole purpose is to show his true feelings and make people almost want to hear more and know how to save themselves.
    2. The Puritans valued this sermon because it brought their true fears to realization, it calmed their need to find the truth to "life after death". They only wanted to be more cognizant of their current state in life.
    3. Fear is always a motivator for human beings. Fear is used to "make ourselves better, but also it can overtake our minds and turn us into the thing we feared the most. Fear creates paranoia, and paranoia creates the need to be safe, ect. They all have this motivational influence on our minds.
    4. We see branches of the puritan culture, like the Amish. They all follow the same guidelines, like the lack of influence from the outside world, the non-conformist ideals and placement, their desire to always follow God's teaching, and the "one way to do it" lifestyle. They both are valued and in some ways criticized, because they are so different, but cliche as it is, the same.

  2. 1) Edwards' sermon was powerful in speech and image because of how he used voice to describe how he felt about someones wrong doing. He would put you in that moment and you could see the person "dangling" in your own mind.
    2) The Puritans valued this writing because of how much they believed in god and how you had to live by gods law.
    3) Fear motivates everyone at some point in their life. We are scared in some cases so we do things because of the fear of it and we scare others in to doing something. Most people live their lives in fear.
    4) Today we see some people that believe heavily in god, some people that kind of believe in god, and people that don't believe in god at all. The people that live in fear of not getting to heaven, and do everything according to the bible, I would say could be considered following Puritan culture.

  3. 1) When Edwards writes; "They have no refuge, nothing to take hold of," it is terrifyingly powerful. The thought of being held over the depths of hell is frightening, but the thought of being alone or helpless can be even worse.

    2) Puritans preach about death and the afterlife almost to the point of obsession. They would value the fear of the thought of hell, because it would preach a message that you need to know God, or you will be in this scary situation.

    3) Fear is possibly the strongest influence in our lives. When we fear something, we believe we must take any sort of action to avoid what it is we fear. For example; most people have a fear of being judged, so they will change something about themselves to be socially acceptable. Another example is how many people will try to be good person because they fear being judged in the afterlife.

    4) Yes. Almost everyone still attains a large fear of hell, and this thought was huge in Puritan culture. Not to generalize, but Puritans seemed very judgmental of "unpure" people, and the modern society still has multiple issues due to judgement.

  4. 1. Jonanath Edwards uses very powerful and frightening images to get your attention. The most powerful images I thought were his depictions of a fiery pit that not only makes you uncomfortable but makes the reader think about their own actions.
    2. The Puritans value this sermon because it is a big part of their culture. Religion is the only thing they live for, they must submit to the will of god.
    3. I think fear does not make people do most of their decision making. It can motivate people to do the worst and most important decisions in their lives
    4. Today’s culture is very different than the Puritan culture. Technology plays a huge role in why our culture has advanced and changed. I do not think we have kept any aspects from the Puritan culture. They were very strict and tunnel visioned.

  5. 1)An image that I find most powerful include when Jonathan Edwards says that the devil is waiting for them and hell is gaping for them. This is a powerful image because when I think about that picture, I only see evil, despair and misery. It's something that really emphasizes the evil in the world and pushes people to remain good so that they don't have to encounter that situation.
    2) Puritans might value the sermon because it supports God and their beliefs completely. It is a very strong and intimidating sermon that shows the power they believe God to have and is powerful enough to drive people to God out of fear. There is little room for contradiction as to why heaven and God might not be so good after all; the sermon shows and describes exactly what is going to happen if you don't confess sin and live a good life.
    3) Fear is a powerful motivate for human behavior. Often times, people run from their fears. Without those fears, they wouldn't see reason to go the extra mile. In the sermon, Jonathan Edwards says that you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of and that God is the only one holding you up. This fear of hell and of falling into that dreadful pit of glowing flames might drive people away from that and might motivate them to follow God so that they can avoid the terror of hell at all costs. Whenever I'm faced with accusations, I often willingly do whatever I can to avoid being further accused. I will throw some of my friends "under the bus" out of fear of what might come once the accustions are stated. Fear is what drives me to lie and lose integrity.
    4) Many people today hold a lot of fears that involve hell and the end of the world. For example, there are quite a few people who hold beliefs and superstitions about death. They spend a majority of their time and money advertising and telling people that they must repent of their sins and turn to God so that they are not sent to hell. Puritans believed some of that to an extent and the sermon is similar because it supports the idea that unless we repent of our sins now, the wrath of God will come and we won't be held above hell any longer.

  6. 1)What I consider to be powerful in this sermon is when John Edward 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 of the many damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it..." Throughout this entire sermon, John speaks with assertion and find the sermon to be kind of intense and intimidating. In this section, I think he is saying that evil is waiting for us to mess up and when we mess up, with various degrees, we either fall into the abyss completely or we fall into the hand of God, giving us another chance to fix our mistake.
    2)The Puritans valued this because they know that God is all powerful and if they damned him, they would fall into the abyss.
    3)Absolutely! Fear is powerful motivator in our human behavior because without fear we would not know how to become mentally and emotionally stronger. When I get fearful, I tend to keep to myself and then the situation just gets worse by lying. My advice, don't do this-right, easier said than done.
    4)I'd say yes and no to this question. Yes: People who go to church and do as the bible tells them to do so are similar to the Puritan culture. The Puritans believed that they had to follow God's orders in order to get to heaven and out of hell. No: THere are many people in this world who take advantage of the advanced technology we have these days like the smart phones, ipods, and computers. They are so focused on technology that they don't have time to think about God.

  7. 1. In Jonathan Edwards Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, he uses images of a painful death. For example, Edwards uses imagery of fire to explain damnation. He goes on to elaborate how mankind is damned to hell: “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.” Edwards uses this kind of imagery to provoke the fear of God into the people listening to his sermons.
    2. The puritans valued this sermon because they valued religion and God above all other aspects in their lives. The puritans believed that God was angry, wrathful and would condemn them at any given moment. The sheltered lifestyle of the puritans gave them little information about other religions and how God is viewed in other societies. They believed that this was the only way of life and the only way to avoid damnation.
    3. Fear is one of the greatest motives for human behavior. Almost everything we do in our everyday lives, we do out of fear. We brush our teeth because we’re afraid of getting cavities. Whenever we get into the car we put on our seatbelts because we are afraid of getting in a car crash. Our lives are driven by fear provoked by our parents, doctors, teachers and years of understanding.
    4. Many aspects of puritan culture still exist today. For example millions of people fear what will happen to them after they die. The same fear evoked in the puritans is still evoked in churches today. People still fear hell. Although teachings of afterlife and hell are not as frightening as they were back then, the possibility of a fiery damnation still scares people today. Like the puritans we still ostracize outcasts. Those who are different from us are often treated like outcasts. An example of this can be seen especially in high school. People who look different, practice an uncommon religion, or have unique hobbies and interests are not welcome in small cliques or groups among the school. Many aspects of our lives are still affected by puritan culture.

  8. 1) Whenever Edwards' uses figures of speech to show the relevance between what humans are really, related to the big picture, is when the words are powerful to me. These are so powerful because they talk about our presence in the world and makes us wonder if we are really important.
    2) The Puritans valued this sermon because they were very religious and they wanted to know what came after life. They believed that if they did not behave, they would see the devil after they died. I think this sermon scared them a little because it talked about God and what he could do with them. They were afraid of this sermon, but were still interested in what could happen.
    3)I believe fear can manipulate people to act differently and can motivate them to behave weird also. For example, if someone is afraid of a bully, they would take a different route just to avoid them even if it was longer.
    4) In our society today, we see pieces of the Puritan culture, but it isn't as visible as it used to be. Certain religious groups will still believe that they will be punished if they do not obey various rules. They can have very strict societies, however, their are many other groups of people who are almost complete opposites of Puritans. These people basically do whatever they want and don't necessarily care what consequences may follow.

  9. 1) In John Edward's sermon, I found that the most provoking image is "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." This is powerful to me because Edwards is trying to say that there is a fierce river of sin being held back and the only thing that is keeping it away from you is God (the dam). And when it breaks, it is the same thing as going to going to hell as he states later in the sermon.

    2) The Puritans valued this sermon because it is what there culture is all about. They believed that everyone in the Puritan community must live pure lives so that no one would end up in hell.

    3) Fear is a huge motivator for human behavior as it causes people to make decision out of emotion rather than logic. The other day in history, we were talking about a philosopher who greatly stressed the importance of making decisions out of logic. If one is caught making a decision out of emotion (fear) then the decision will most likely make a negative impact on the person's life.

    4) Today we see some of the Puritan culture. For example, some religions enforce strict rules to make sure no one makes their lives impure. Also, people fear the Devil just like the Puritans did.

  10. 1.) Jonathan Edwards’ use of imagery through out his sermon is very powerful. One part I find effective is when he says “Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf…” This leaves you frightened but also wanting to hear more so you can learn how to avoid such an awful fate. Throughout the sermon Edwards gives off the impression that at anytime God could drop you into the fiery pits of hell; this causes people to feel they don’t have much time therefore they try and make right of the situation as fast as possible.
    2.) The Puritans probably valued this sermon because it gave them a since of righteousness. It supported their own beliefs and they felt it set them above everyone else. It also motivated them to follow God because of the fear that if they didn’t then the terrifying fate Edwards described would end up a reality for them.
    3.) Fear is absolutely a powerful motivator for human behavior. Almost everything we do is out of fear in a way. Fear can cause us to do irrational things and persuade us in drastic ways. Fear can motivate us in small ways, for example students always try and get to class on time for fear of having a tardy. Fear can cause you to lie in order to avoid getting in trouble; it can even stop you from living your life to the fullest.
    4.) Puritans seem to use the fear of hell as a motivator to follow God; I see this in today’s culture. Some people fear so much for their salvation that it ends up being the reason they follow God. The fear of what happens after death is still a huge concern today. Also as Laura said, like the Puritans we can turn our nose up to the outcasts in society and think ourselves as better than them. The puritans come across as very hypocritical and this is something that our society struggles with in a very large way.

  11. 1. In Jonathan Edwards' sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, he uses powerful and persuasive imagery. The statement, "If God should only withdraw his hand from the
    flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of
    God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent
    power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times
    greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand
    or endure it," really stood out to me. I believe this is the most powerful statement because it shows how weak and powerless the human is to God and if they were to turn their back on him he could let you fall to hell were it would be unbearable. This statement is definitely scary enough to persuade someone not to sin and to never put themselves into that position of helplessness.
    2. Puritans valued this sermon because Religion was the main part of their culture. The Puritans worried about where they would go when they die and this sermon describes what would happen to them if they do not follow the will of God.
    3. Fear is definitely a motivator for human behavior. Everyone has their fears and most often we have to face them or come up with some way to avoid them. Fear is a strong emotion that can cause people to become stronger if they face their fears, but if they don't face them they can keep that fear with them for the rest of their life. Fear can come from embarrassment or intimidation. Some people are afraid of what other people think of them so they act the way they think they should instead of showing their own personality and then it becomes a habit.
    4. We do see some Puritan aspects today, such as the strong belief in God and Hell. However, not everyone believes in God and the Devil and other groups of people believe in them in different ways. Today there are many religions being practiced and the ones that have very strong beliefs about God and Hell show the same aspects of Puritan culture.

  12. 1. "...they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it..." This is a very powerful sentence because it condemns us from the minute we are born to when we die. It tells the reader that they deserve to die and will die and are predestined to it. The whole paragraph is based around fear and gives no hope for any good you can do to improve.
    2. Puritans valued this sermon because it was the right of the community to condemn others or the individual was also responsible for the crimes of their friends. It also brought fears of the community into real life by making each individual to fear God and anyone who acts against him.
    3. Fear is a powerful motivator for humans because it supplies them with something to relentlessly think about. Fear fills your mind but also depicts what you should do in order. In the Salem Witch hunts people acted out in fear over political, reputation, love, and land. Without a stand in political rights there reputation could be shamed and they couldn't make decisions.
    4. We do see Puritan culture but not to the extent of theocracy, although we based the laws upon the Bible when the pilgrims came to America, it is mostly based off free will. A lot of people chose God because they don't want to go to hell but it is not believed that God's people are precondemned. Although A lot of people believe in God,it might not be to the extent of the Puritans. Today, people still blame, condemn other people and be stereotypical.

  13. 1. In the excerpt "Sinners in the Hands of Angry Gods," by Jonathan Edwards, I thought this quote was very powerful through imagery; "...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. You hang by a slender thread..." This was powerful to me because the imagery and his point of view was very strong. This quote emphasizes that we are always being tested and that we don't really have a chance in life.
    2. The Puritans valued this sermon because it gave them a purpose in life, to please God. Their lives were surrounded around the idea of life and death, which means they were worried if they didn't do what God wanted they would be damned to hell.
    3. I believe that we do almost everything out of fear; fear of authority, fear of what will happen if we don't follow the rules, etc. As children we are conditioned to follow the rules and do as we are told. If we disobey then we get punished. This punishment creates fear which leads us to do the right thing and to follow the rules.
    4. The Puritans defiantly left some of their ways behind with us today. One thing they left behind is the belief in God and Satan. This is very strong today, even if it is practiced in different ways. Another aspect the Puritans left behind is the fear of what happens after we die.

  14. 1. Jonathan Edwards uses frightening images to describe how he feels about mankind. He uses a imagery such as fire to describe mankind’s corruptions and flaws. His images were powerful because they created an intense image of pain and suffering.
    2. The Puritans valued this sermon because it was conformation to everything that they believe. Afterlife and the fear of the unknown became an obsession for them and forced them to wonder what would happen after death.
    3. Yes, fear can cause someone to be so afraid of something that they will do anything to make sure they are safe. For example, we are afraid of dying in a car accident, so we wear seatbelts. If preventative measures can be taken, most will take them to avoid a much worse punishment.
    4. Although many things are different in today day and age, the fears of hell and the afterlife still remain at large and force religion onto many to avoid damnation much like in the Puritan society.

  15. 1. He paints a good picture of what he thinks hell looks like. This is powerful because it makes us think about what we think it looks like.

    2. Puritans value this sermon because they both accused people with out knowing if they were for sure wrong.

    3. Yes I think fear is a motivation. If you think you are going to do bad on a test then you may cheat and if you did something wrong and you are afraid of getting caught then you might lie.

    4. I think that the religious people keep the Puritan culture. They keep the belief in god still believed.

  16. 1. Edwards uses dark imagery to instill fear in the people he is addressing. At the end of the third paragraph, he uses imagery of dark clouds and thunderstorms waiting for people while the only thing holding back the disaster is God.These are very powerful because it causes people to fear God and the power that he holds over us.
    2. The Puritans valued this sermon because it told them that God really was in control, and like Chloe said, it gave them a goal or reason to live. They had to strive to please God for fear of having His wrath released on them.
    3. Fear is a very powerful motivator. Pretty much any thing you do or do not do in a day is based off of fear. You eat food for fear of starvation. You go to work for fear of getting fired. You dress like people around you for fear of being socially rejected. One of my biggest fears is failure. It is a big struggle for me because I am often afraid to try new things or take a chance. When I leave my comfort zone and take a shot, most of the time it turns out for the better, but my fear causes me to question if it will or not.
    4. There are many differences in the Puritan culture from out culture today, but people still fear hell just like they did back then. Although not as extremely, we are still afraid of God's wrath today. "Live like you're dying" is a common phrase heard today in many songs. This is a reflection of Puritan because it shows how people always want to be ready for death.

  17. 1.A lot of Edward’s first paragraph is imagery about the pit of hell that we cannot escape. I started to see Edwards’s main point right away. He feels that sinners will be given no pity from god; that god is a savior and a devil. An image in the fourth paragraph stood out to me was, “ Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, 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.” I feel like this reflect the belief that you could be the happiest person on Earth as you cause others any sort of pain; your happiness does not satisfy god, you will live in regret and suffer. In the seventh paragraph it says, “…justice bends the arrow at your heart…” As god holds his ultimate wrath back, he gives us warnings of our wrongful behavior by attacking us at our hearts.

    2.The Puritans and this sermons outlook on life and religion are similar in the way the both believe god decides for you in life but the thought of him should get you through the hard times. God decides our fate. He had hope for all his good creatures at first but our actions have already disappointed him. He hasn’t completely given up on us, clearly because we are all still alive! But with our last chances given, god’s anger just sits over us in the storms of the weather. The more lenient god is with us and the more we disappoint him, the more we will suffer in the end. The Puritan’s greatly valued perfection; especially because as Edwards pointed out, it only takes one sin to put you under god’s watch. That pressure is scary.

    3.I know when I am fearful of someone else’s reaction, I say I am sorry a lot. In the same way the god views people as burdens on Earth and that we should be thankful to just be alive, fear can sometimes make us apologize because we feel like we are a burden to others. A major fear in my life is of what’s to come next whether it is next week or next year or fifty from now. I am trying to overcome it and live day by day but I can’t help but dream, wonder and worry. The first connection I noticed in the sixth paragraph was that what we do now greatly impacts the future; and people are very afraid of the future and what is to come of them and their lives.

    4.In the Puritan culture you can actually do everything you know is true to a religious lifestyle and still be completely controlled by god. Of course, all those people knew was religion; they couldn’t think for themselves and believed they needed god to guide and save them. In the modern day religion isn’t a main part of our lives anymore. We don’t like the thought of being controlled but most people still look to a higher power for guidance and strength. These days we focus a lot more on human individuality then common beliefs. It is now cool to stand out; and if you have to be extreme to do so then go all out. People have really lost morals and values. One belief I do personally believe in that follows some Puritan belief is that you can’t depend on anything because you can’t control anything.

  18. 1. Jonathan Edwards’ use of imagery through out his sermon is very powerful, which gives the reader deception of his thinking. This helped me see his main point. The quote that really brought me over the edge was when Jonathan Edwards said,"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." This quote means to me that their is a constant flow of evil in our lifestyle's which is scary.
    2. The Puritans valued this sermon because it was common to their beliefs. This gave the idea of life after death, which the Puritans thought of a hell and a heaven. Their were scared of what would happen once you died. They believed that god decisions were always right, so if you went to hell it was because the person made bad decisions throughout there life.

    3. Fear is a very powerful motivator, the term fear can change a person inside out. From being a leader to a wimp hiding into a corner, fear is very powerful. Fear in my life would probably be not getting good grades, but i overcome that fear by studying.
    4. The Puritan Culture, was a very slow evolving society, from old fashioned farming, to going to church every sunday for every family; and to believe everything you are told. THe Puritan Society Compared to ours is we have some similarities and major differences. For one our society doesn't only believe in god, and the devil. One similarity between our two cultures was that most religions believe that their is one god and a devil. A difference is that we share our differences with other people.

  19. 1. Edwards states in his sermon, “it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell;” People hear and listen to bold statements. Fear is a strong tool when in an effort to get one to obey. Edwards uses vivid imagery of the maker holding His children over the pits of hell. I do not see my God holding me over the pits of hell. If one sins, then they have left God but God does not leave His children. That is why this image stood out, because I do not agree and it is a clear picture.
    2. Puritans have high expectations for themselves and how worthy their people are. I believe they valued this sermon because it encourages righteousness out of fear. The expectation was to get followers to live more worthily. Perhaps they are greatly concerned of their reputation and wish for their people to live more uprightly.
    3. In my everyday life I am challenged to do something out of fear. The fear of a consequence motivates me. In practice, if I do not get a kill off of the next set then I will run. If I do not do my homework then I won’t be prepared for the next test or quiz. If I spend my money wastefully then I won’t be able to pay for the things my parents do not buy for me. Life is challenged by fear, however when it comes to the matter of church and the gospel I do not see a God of fear. I picture a God of mercy. 2Timothy 1:7 reads “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”.
    4. I see fear being used every day to motivate. This is a concept that the Puritans used and is still used today. I also see some cultures or communities constantly talking and trying to improve on character or other admirable values. On the other hand, many people today are making poor decisions and are apathetic of the consequences. I see my generation as fearless, but an unaffirmative conduct. This is dissimilar to the Puritans.

  20. 1.The images and figures of speech in this write up is kind of gloomy to me. The part that was most powerful to me were the times Edward would talk about humans being related to the big picture, because it got me thinking about if we really meant something in this life of ours, or if we were just going through the same routine year after year after year.
    2. Basically what the sermon did was not just describing, but showing what was going to happen to you if you weren’t cleansed of your sins before you died. The Puritans valued this because their whole culture was based off of it. It fully supported their beliefs about life and was used as a sort of threat, to show if you didn’t confess your sins before death your afterlife was in hell.
    3. I think fear is our biggest motivation. A lot of people do things right, get good grades, listen and obey rules, strive for the best, because if things aren’t done right, there is going to be some type of punishment. People fear punishment which therefore proves my point.
    4. We do indeed have a few aspects of the Puritan culture. Todays modern day still has a lot of religious beliefs. People attend to their churches all the time. People now a days, still fear going to hell just like the Puritans did also. It may not be to the extreme like it was for them but people still do strongly believe in this.