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My favorite place in the world to be is underwater. My second favorite place is the front of a classroom.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Steady Hands

"They believed, in short, that they held in their steady hands the candle that would light the world. We have inherited this belief, and it has helped and hurt us" (Miller 5).

What do think this passage means? What is the "candle"? Do you agree that modern Americans have inherited this Puritan attitude? How has it helped or hurt us?

20 Comments:

Blogger OfAThousandSuns said...

This passage means that the Puritans thought they were better and far superior to other religions and cultures of the world. He says that we (presumabley modern day Americans) have inheritad this belief. We certainly do think that we're better than everyone, but some people would say that we exert this by going overseas to fight wars that are supposedly for the good of other citizens in other nations, which is not true. We fight under the pretext of a good cause, when actually we fight only for our benefit. Look at the current example in the genocides in Africa. Who could we have helped more: The people who were being killed by the tens of thousands everyday, or some people under a dictator? What's the difference? One place is strategically placed for the future (and has a lot of oil beneath it) the other place is a barren desert.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Milt G said...

I think that the passage means that the people of Purtianism are holding the thing that will brighten the world and make it good. I think the candle they are talking about is the Puritan religion. I think that in some ways we have inherited the Puritan ways, but some of them we have squashed because we do not agree with them. It has helped us because it helps us set morals and standards for ourselves that may not have been set otherwise. However, it is also a bad thing because people don't agree with some parts of the Puritan religion and they rebel against that and that is some of the reason that we have some crimes in the world. People see what the religion thinks they should be doing and they disagree and do the exacty opposite.

10:10 AM  
Blogger OfAThousandSuns said...

to add to what i said before...

it has helped us becuase it allows us to make great technological and medical advances because we are the wealthiest most powerful nation on Earth. It has hurt us because this arrogance has made a lot of nations dislike us a lot.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Monique R said...

I think this passage means that every person has a sense of self-importance or ego that tells them that they are special and hold a "candle" to "light the world." This candle idea reminds me of a quote that I heard that was something like, "Every person influences every other person they meet in some way." I think that modern Americans definately have inherited this attitude but I don't believe it specifically came from the Puritans. They must have gotten this idea from somewhere and it seems like human nature to us now, so maybe it has always been this way. It has helped us because it gives us the confidence and courage to do things out of our comfort zone, but it has also hurt us, in cases where a person's ego gets to be too big, and spills over into tyrany or bullying.

10:10 AM  
Blogger kyle n said...

I think this quote means that the Purtian society believed that they had the power (the power of their religion) to change the world and eliminate sinners. The candle in this quote represents the Puritan religion. In my opinion, the people of modern America have inherited this belief in a way, except in just for religion. Everyone's "candle" can be different, but everyone believes they have the power to change the world with their candle. This as helped us in a way because it creates an enviorment in this country where each individual person has the chance to do something big, to change the world. The downside is, most people don't amount to jack squat, so their hope, dreams, and confidence are shattered.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Anoel said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Alyssag said...

I think that this passage means that the Puritan people believed that their religion was the correct and only one, and they were the ritious people who would save the rest of the world. The candle represents light and the ability to see. I think that the Puritans belived that the people who were not Puritans were living in the dark, not really seeing life through the eyes of God. They felt that it was their responsibility and duty to God to help these people in the dark come to the light and follow the path of God. Modern Americans today definately have the attitude that the Puritans had, not in the religious sense, but in the sense that we believe that our way of living is the correct and only way to live. It has helped us as Americans to become a very strong and ambitious country, but it has hurt us when we become involved with other countries. We try to change the other countries way of living becasue we think that they are living the wrong way, or their government isnt right. We are in Iraq today trying to change their government into one similar to ours.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Kelly O said...

The passage shows that the Puritans believed that they had the power and it was thier job to enlighten the rest of the world to the right beliefs. The candle represents that idea. Modern Americans definately inherited this Puritan idea. We have a lot of power over people, we sometimes think we are superior to other people, and we tend to take it upon ourselves to fix other people's problems, just like the Puritans. This type of attitude has hurt us because people get annoyed with us when we get involved in thier problems. The attitude has also helped us keep lots of power.

10:15 AM  
Blogger christine b. said...

I believe that this passage means that only the small light that every human holds inside gives us the power to keep going every day and the hope of creating something new or even just living life to its' fullest. Even though this light is small, it gives them the power to affect a change in the world. I agree that most Americans have inherited this Puritan attitude because people try to come up with new ideas and improvements for our society every day. We even send our young ones to school in order to see if they can make a change in the world or make their "light" brighter. I think it has both helped and hurt us because it gives us the confidence to keep going and trying but it has also made us cocky in some aspects, and we then ignore the small things that will eventually turn in to much larger things that will be much harder to control.

10:15 AM  
Blogger jessicam said...

This passage show, metaphorically, what the Puritans thought of their God given role in life. The candle that Miller is talking about is the 'light of God.' They thought that God would uplift everyone's soul, and that it was their job to spread this miraculous word. The second part of this passage means that from the Puritans our country has, in a way, taken on the same rule. The only exception is that we think we need to spread peace and democracy, not just the word of God. We also have gained a similar worth ethic; Americans work the most out of many competing or nearby countries, such as Japan and Germany. As a result of this belief, like the Puritans, we have gained things and lost things. We have become and extremely powerful nation, even if our power is sometimes used for the wrong things, and we have become extremely successful economically. We have been hurt by these puritan attitudes by thinking that we always need to solve other peoples problems, so we become involved in unnecessary wars such as Vietnam, and depending on your belief, Iraq.

10:15 AM  
Blogger kaitlinb said...

The puritans believe that they held the key to keep the world where it was alright, by religion. They felt their religion, beliefs, and innocence made them the people of religion and they are the sinners who would not burn in the fire they are held over. Thus, they had the power to hold the light of the world because they were the only ones who could have save the world’s innocence. To say they inherited this belief may mean that their puritan ancestors gave them this duty to do and they must for their beliefs and the world. I believe the candle is the light leading to religion in this quote, the light that leads the innocent believers. It is a hurt that such a responsibility would keep them from doing some “fun” things that are considered sins. The help is that they feel it is a gift for them and that trust in the puritans is important to them.

10:15 AM  
Blogger kaitlinb said...

The puritans believe that they held the key to keep the world where it was alright, by religion. They felt their religion, beliefs, and innocence made them the people of religion and they are the sinners who would not burn in the fire they are held over. Thus, they had the power to hold the light of the world because they were the only ones who could have save the world’s innocence. To say they inherited this belief may mean that their puritan ancestors gave them this duty to do and they must for their beliefs and the world. I believe the candle is the light leading to religion in this quote, the light that leads the innocent believers. It is a hurt that such a responsibility would keep them from doing some “fun” things that are considered sins. The help is that they feel it is a gift for them and that trust in the puritans is important to them.

10:15 AM  
Blogger kaitlinb said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Jessica K said...

The passage means that the Purtan's believed they were the one's in control of America. They thought they were the one's responsible for everything around them. The candle represents the power they have to shape and change the world. They were going to show others the "light" and change the new world into what they thought was right. Modern Americans have inherited this Purtan attitude. Many believe that America is the number one country and has control over many people. It has helped us in the way of making our country stronger and more stable and has played a part in our success even if it did hurt others. That is where this attitude has hurt us; we will meddle and stomp on anyone or anything to make us stronger. So this belief does help us but somtimes at the expense of others which does hurt us.

10:16 AM  
Blogger JordanL said...

I think that this passage is talking about the Puritans' attitude about themselves. They think that the Puritan way of life is the only way to live and want everyone to be a part of it therefore, being the light of the world. I think the candle can represent their beliefs and them wanting to share them with the world. In America we have definitely inherited this sort of unbeatable attitude. We think we are the best and it has given us a big ego and has gotten us in trouble with the world but has also helped the world.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Milt G said...

I think it also helps us in this country because everybody believes they can amount to something great, and that creates the competition that the succesful need to be able to succeed. If there was no competition in the job market than there would be no way for someone to do better than anyone else, and there would be a monopoly.

10:16 AM  
Blogger BessieS said...

I think that this passage means that we as humans believe that we can control the world and we hold the power of the world in our hands. We can use this for good but if we make a mistake the consequences are greater than we can imagine. The candle symbolizes our ego and power. As Americans I do think that we have inherited this thought and it has helped us get to where we are now with technology and our standing of power in the world. But it hurt us during the Great Depression and during the wars when, at times we would not admit our mistakes and we would pin the blame on other countries or ethnic peoples or just make excuses for why certain things happened how they did.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Erin G said...

I think this passage means that the people of Salem believed that they had the best ideas and ways of life. They believed that they knew all, when there is always so much more to discover. The candle may represent this false sense of confidence in which people believe they behold all knowledge and the right beliefs. I do believe that modern Americans have inherited this attitude, and I agree with Miller that it is both helpful and hurtful. I believe that it is good to be patriotic and believe in your ideas and concepts, but it also sometimes leads to a false sense of confidence, or cockiness, which can get you into trouble. I believe that when 9/11 occurred, our nation cmae together. This helped us, until we had seperate ideas about how to resolve the issue. Here, we separated ourselves from eachother, and we may have had uncertainties about how to handle the situation. 9/11 is just one example of many.

10:17 AM  
Blogger emilee p said...

The candle in this passage might represent the puritan’s religious beliefs, or their “righteousness” and their need to spread it to the Native Americans. I think that we have inherited this belief. For instance the United State’s need to stop communism from spreading, and the many police actions, n other countries throughout history.Americans today want to impose their beliefs on others and they feel it is their need to save them.I don't know if it has helped us or hurt us, but it has made America what it is

10:17 AM  
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6:35 AM  

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