Spirit of acceptance lives on Block Island
Block Island has a spiritual mother.
Her name is Anne Marbury Hutchinson. Anne was the daughter of Francis Marbury, a leading theologian and teacher of the English Puritans. Her mother was a Dreyden, and first cousin of John Dreyden, the most famous poet of his time. Francis had been imprisoned by the Anglicans for three years and knew the value of the word. The Marburys decided to give their brilliant daughter the education Francis was giving to the elite Puritan sons. This ultimately was Anne’s downfall.
Anne had married one of her father’s students, Edward Hutchinson, the son of a wealthy Puritan merchant family. Both families opposed the union. The Hutchinsons opposed it because Anne’s family had no money. Marbury objected because the Hutchinsons were not religious enough. However, the young couple prevailed. It was apparently a love match, as Anne was to have 18 pregnancies; 12 children lived to grow up. Anne and Edward built a large house in Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was next to the Old State House in Boston, where the waterfront used to be.
In Boston, although she was a midwife and had many children of her own, Anne had Wednesday night educational meetings for the women of the colony. By all accounts, she was a knowledgeable and excellent teacher. She was so good that the women started bringing their husbands. This was Anne’s downfall. From the viewpoint of John Winthrop and crew, Anne was “preaching” to men. What particularly got her into trouble was that she thought both faith and works were necessary for believing Christians. The Establishment Puritans were Calvinists, who believed those who did well financially were favored by G-d for their faith.
The transcript of Annes’s trial in Harvard Yard, in 1637 and 1638, exist and are fascinating. However, the trials were a railroad, as the jurors were all Puritan men. They did not directly accuse Anne of preaching, but rather of heresy because of her insistence on “works.” What I like to call tzedakah: doing the right thing in the sight of G-d.
Anne was forced out and bought Aquidneck Island from the Narragansett Indians; she renamed it “Rhode Island” after the Isle of Rhodes.
Eve LaPlante recounts the above history very well in “American Jezebel” (Norton, 2003). She praises Anne Hutchinson, who John Winthrop called a “Jezebel”, for being a major influence for Freedom of Speech and Religion. LaPlante notes the connection between Anne and Capt. James Sands, but does not connect to the the same James Sands who built a house for Anne Hutchinson (were she was assassinated), was who was also a major leader of the colony of New Shoreham (Block Island).
As Arthur Kinoy points out in “The Real Mystery of Block Island” ( B.I. Historical Society, 1966), the founder of Block Island wanted to escape the Puritans because they believed in absolute freedom of speech and religion, as Anne had propounded in the Compact of Consciend (issued at Portsmouth, R.I., 1638). Anne is what is called today an Anabaptist. Quakers and Baptists both count her as a spiritual mother.
The probable cause for the peculiarity of the Block Island settlers, in 1661, was the need to be free. This view still exists on the Island. Although there have been periods of intolerance in Block Island’s history, one of the beauties of the island is its acceptance of any and all unless they harm others. The value of work and works is preserved. Anne Hutchinson would fully understand the significance of the holiday of Passover, which is the remembrance of slavery and the celebration of freedom. She also preached the value of understanding what freedom is and how we must use it to help our fellow humans. Man does not live by faith alone.
Cantor Elliot Taubman
Eternal life begins through faith in Christ
When we gather at the Ocean View Pavilion on Easter Sunday morning at 6:15 a.m. for a sunrise service, we will do so reasonably sure that the sun will in fact rise again. When each of us separately faces the end of life, we who are believers will do so reasonably sure that we ourselves will rise again. This is the meaning of Easter: that this is not all there is, that death does not have the last word. The eternal life we begin to live through faith in Christ is not extinguished when we die.
Easter means that the kingdom that Jesus brought to earth was not defeated by the power of institutional religion and politics. When God raised Jesus from the dead, it was a kind of coronation, elevating Jesus to high office as we have seen a humble Argentinian raised to the office of Pope in recent days. The executed Nazarene was raised to life and made the king of the world, launching through the Spirit his new government with values like no government of men.
Easter is an invitation to live by those values: forgiving, caring for the poor, working for peace, trusting in our heavenly Father to provide. Harbor Church is a place where we try year-round to live by Easter values, living always in hope and awareness of the presence of God’s kingdom in our midst. I’m proud to be part of a Christian community that isn’t looking for the winners of the world and asking what people can do for us. We are looking for people who are looking for love; we welcome anyone who wants to be a part of Jesus’ band of losers out to change the world.
May the joy and hope of Easter be yours in this season and always.
Open our hearts to embrace each other
My prayers, my ministry, hopes, and love are with you on this joyous Easter season.
I would like to share with you the words of the poet e.e. cummings who beautifully captures and expresses my feelings of Easter.
i thank You God, for most this amazing day;
for the leaping, greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything which is natural
which is infinite which is yes
i who have died am alive again today,
this is the birth day of life and of love
This is the day we embrace our Risen Lord not only in His Word and Sacrament, but in each other. The resurrection proclaims to us that life is so real and so ultimate and so redeemed and so joyous that nothing, not even death, can destroy it. Let us let the Risen Lord embrace our lives. Let us open our hearts embracing our brothers and sisters in His joy and life. We do not just celebrate a remembrance of an historical event — we celebrate His presence in our lives. We are raised up. We are redeemed.
Redeemed life is the discovery that we have it in us to be what God is like, to be alive as the Lord is alive – by giving, by generosity, by love.
Alleluia! The Lord is risen today!
Thanks be to God!
In His Peace,
The Rev. Dr. Gary C. Lemery
St. Ann’s by-the-Sea
"The power of the Holy Spirit"
We celebrate Easter Sunday in observance of Christ coming back from the dead by means of the power of the Holy Spirit.
Is the same power that raised Christ from the dead working in you?
Block Island Christian Fellowship
Dear Followers of Christ and Friends All,
Following the strong admonition of St. Paul, the Church minces no words or intent when it proclaims that without the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead, there is no Christianity. There is no Church. There is no Jesus Christ. It is that basic, and so it has been for about 2,000 years.
“If no one is ever raised from the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is worth nothing, and your faith is worth nothing.” (1 Corinthians 15: 13-14). But our own history teaches us to this day that billions believe in Jesus’ resurrection and millions have been persecuted and martyred in their steadfast adherence to that belief. We are tied to Jesus in His life, His suffering, His death and His resurrection. Where and how He has gone, we are to follow. Millions have said that belief is worth living for and that belief is worth dying for.
Benedict the XVI, Pope Emeritus, puts it well: “We follow, not a dead man, but a living Christ ... now that He has gone before us, we can go there too.”
This stepping forward in Faith is what makes us find for ourselves what it is to be a human being. Paul the Apostle makes it clear that he is not going through all his sufferings unto death for a myth or poetic delusion. He believes what he was told by eye witnesses and experienced in his own encounter with the risen Christ and passes on what he knows to be true.
We can and do rejoice in exultant song and prayer because our Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ confirms that there is a future to our lives and a life to our mortality. Those who die with Christ will rise with Him. Alleluia! Happy Easter!
Rev. Joseph Protano, Pastor
St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church