Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Series of Notes Taken From a First Reading of Elizabeth Reis's "Revelation, Witchcraft, and the Danger of Knowing God's Secrets," Using the Sentence Method as a Means of Finding the Core Points of a Very Complex Paper with a Broad Scope and Considerable Detail

Pg 2. – Thesis: knowledge of the supernatural often contested, especially women’s knowledge. Celestial guidance desired, but absolute knowledge considered damnable, demonically guided offence.
Pg. 3 – Witchcraft dangerous because it manipulated the divine plan, and because it raised the question of what was acceptable or desirable knowledge of that plan. To know a witch is to know here damnation, which means knowing God’s plan, which is sinful knowledge.
Pg 4. – Puritans often looked for signs from God of their salvation or the imminence of Judgment Day.
Pg. 5 – Puritan omens rarely pointed to God’s pleasure, though the effects of European diseases on Native Americans are an exception.
Pg 6 – Signs trusted, revelations distrusted, especially women’s revelations.
Pg 6-7 – Example of Dorothy Talbot, who murdered her daughter due to what she perceived as divine revelations.
Pg. 7 – Laypeople who alleged revelation were alleging privileged information from God.
Pg. 8 – Ann Hutchinson expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony because revelations came directly to her, not through a minister.
Pgs. 9-10 – Mary Dyer, follower of Hutchinson, Quaker and frequent consumer/experiencer of revelations, had a malformed child which was seen by ministers as a sign from God of her errors.
Pg. 11 – The link between female revelation and monstrous births was consistent.
Pg. 12 – Relationship between God and humanity uneven, as God knows and can reveal all and his followers do not and can not.
Pg. 13 – Secret sins considered most dangerous, as they disallow repentance. Secret sin compared to child in womb, which will inevitably get out.
Pg. 14 – This includes witchcraft, and the professed piety of several witches became evidence against them.
Pg. 15 – This led to a situation where accusations against especially righteous or upstanding women gained credibility, since they were seen as courageous actions.
Pgs. 15-16 – Some of the accused felt that the accusations were justified in that they were punishment for real, hidden sins.
Pg. 16 – Considerable blurring in the minds of the accused of their actual sins and accused sins.
Pg. 17 – Great emphasis on confession as only path to repentance and towards identifying the  damned.
Pg. 18 – Confession meant the possibility of salvation, hence the decision not to execute confessed witches in 1692. Those who denied the accusations were hanged.
Pg. 20 – Judges had no problem with this kind of private knowledge of the accused witches’ fates.
Pg. 21 – Fortune-telling especially dangerous, as it causes inappropriate levels of knowledge that the elite, who had their own methods of divination, considered their prerogative.
Pg. 22 – This wasn’t simply for classist reasons – the knowledge offered by witchcraft and revelation was certain, and therefore heretical.
Pg. 23 – Angel sightings rare, any seen by Puritans as generally demonic, especially sightings by women.

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