The Puritan ethic
was in his family, in the brownstones where he lived and socialized, in the law firms where "he lived in hope of not making partner," and in his bones and his very soul.
Lewis had a Protestant upbringing in Belfast, but even in youth he regarded this heritage as an unsatisfactory Puritan ethic
without a Puritan theological basis.
The "Calvinist virtues" or "Puritan ethic
" stressed hard work as a religious duty bringing its worldly rewards.
Yet such a substitution appears at odds with the perception today of Sombart' s work as antisemitic and Weber' s work as favoring the Puritan ethic
. To clarify this discrepancy I will examine the roles of the Jew and the Puritan in the respective interpretive systems of Sombart and Weber and then show how these two structural places contrast with one another, allowing for Sombart's increasingly negative characterization of the Jew and Weber' s positive characterization of the Puritan.
To discover the power of evangelical language, one must turn to Rhyss Isaac; for the complex interplay of increasing religious diversity, Patricia Bonomi; for the impact of the Puritan ethic
on the Revolutionary generation, Edmund Morgan; for the subtle ways in which religion transformed social relations and was changed in turn by the all-consuming Southern desire to defend slavery, Christine Heyrman.
Sin and suffering overtake the European Miriam and Donatello, and in coming to terms with them the Americans undergo a trial of their inherited Puritan ethic
In retrospect, one reads Merton's diagnosis in parallel with the cautions raised by a generation of American theologians who warned that the belief in success, prosperity, individualism, the Puritan ethic
, nationalism, and blind capitalism was nothing more than "civil religion." The abyss still threatened to swallow us, and the hermit-monk reached out from where he had found a foothold.
Yet elements of the puritan ethic
- the sense of stewardship, the preciosity of time, the organization of talent, the abhorrence of laziness, the tempered soul, the moderate and ordered life - remain as perennial characteristics of Protestant spirituality.
He feels that the Puritan ethic
has been eroded in the last half-century and this, of course, concerns him.
Hawthorne came closer to God than did the learned Emerson, and in The Scarlet Letter he wrote "the most passionate denunciation of the cruelty and the savagery of the Puritan ethic
." (Emerson thought that "it was good for nothing.") Hawthorne, unlike most of his Puritan contemporaries, loved Woman and believed that a papist would worship Hester Prynne as an image of divine maternity.
Among Grassby's significant, if tentative, conclusions are (1) that neither the "Puritan ethic
" nor religious nonconformity does much to explain individual businessmen's successes or England's overall economic advance; (2) that business families, like landed families, had difficulty in reproducing themselves through male descent; and (3) that insofar as the greater merchants had a distinctive life style, it was the urban environment that was the principal reason.
While the Puritan ethic
may have begun to dissipate over the course of the 18th century, the virtue of simplicity and conformity continued in both city and cemetery.