A Beacon Of Knowledge

Based on the tag line presented on the Royal Society`s website that reads, “through our policy work, journals, scientific meetings, events, worldwide partnerships and grants and awards, the Royal Society works to support excellence in science, building a home and future for science in the UK,” it is clear that today`s Royal Society encouraged scientists and work adamantly to defend and assist the technological advancement of society. In a sense the society`s image is projected as the proprietors of knowledge, however, its members that we have read about do not seem to be acknowledged for their full potential. The men that we have read about seemed to have the ability to help in the improvement of many areas of the websites addendum but based on the texts, their priorities assigned to them by the Society. In other words, the society encouraged them to focus on primary roles. For example, Isaac Newton focused on mathematics, astronomy and multiple other scientific pursuits while Francis Bacon approached the enlightenment of society through a more philosophical and judiciary point of view.

While these limiting focuses encouraged by the Royal Society may have helped promote knowledge and a prosperous society it may have also prevented other members from acknowledging the multiplicity of their intellect. As an example, the way in which this Thomas Sprat`s assistance and defense took place, seems to be the emphasis of the Royal Society`s purpose. Seeing as Sprat`s adoption into the society was because of his impeccable rhetorical skills and not his scientific abilities it is clear that his work promotes the importance of language development in the enlightenment that the Royal Society reflects. In his philosophical point of view, he often relates the English language as the foundation of civilization`s economic, industrial and event environmental growth. Sprat`s flowery depiction of the English language is used in his essay to endorse the Royal Society`s significance for societal improvement when he “focuses on the society`s capacity to improve ordinary life by producing inventions and shorter way of labor.” He depicts the society as a beacon of education and enlightenment but it may also be taken into consideration as an institution of limitations unfortunately.

-Kamani Morrow

A city upon the hill for who?

The phrase ‘city upon a hill’ used by John Winthrop and various 20th and 21st century American politicians has a similar meaning for the two despite being used almost 300 years later. When John Winthrop used the phrase city upon a hill he is using it to further push this promised success for the puritans on board the Arbella. He has just described his ideal christian society where an oligarchy would rule and christianity would be at the forefront. Whenever the phrase is used politically, it is most likely being used to push a political agenda. For example, when Reagan used the term he had a specific idea for this ‘city’, that symbolizes the country, where republican ideals were central to the country. For each of them, the phrase represents their own individual idea of an ideal society.

While the context and the situations surrounding the phrase changes throughout the course of history, the meaning and purpose of the phrase remains the same. For both Winthrop and politicians, it is crucial that their readers and listeners believe whole hardly in what they are preaching whether it be a new christian centralized government or a liberal or conservative government. They are both very aware that by becoming the city upon the hill, the world will have their eyes on them and they want to insure that the world is looking at a city where their own ideals are implemented and used throughout. Winthrop having deep faith in Christianity pushed him to write A Modell for christian  Charity and Politicians strong believes pushed them into the political world. Both uses also take advantage of the power the word possess. The people listening are also usually unhappy with the current situations whether it be being sick and dying aboard the Arbella or living in a post-war country that was facing a serious stock market crash. They were moved and listened to what they speaker had to say, what they believed was the meaning of the city upon a hill and what needed to be done in order to become this city.


-Noel Nevarez

“City Upon a Hill”: A Utopia for its Time

I can see in John Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity” how it may have been considered some kind of manifesto for a utopia in England in those times. Unlike today, Winthrop would not exclude the presence of a god from his rhetoric. Back then, to talk about “Justice and Mercy” meant that one was talking about the natural laws of man. However, the laws of man really mean the laws that have been given by a Judaeo-Christian God. It was not that they were trying to be tyrannically Christian, virtue really was synonymous with this idea of a God–one could not exist without the other. Although today this rhetoric is typically attributed to the far-right fundamentalist realm of politics, in Winthrop’s time this was revolutionary in the face of the vastly dominant Roman Catholic religion.

Winthrop was an advocate of people having the right to interpret the Bible for themselves. One specific part of Winthrop’s essay that doesn’t sound like the far-right fundamentalists of today, is when he alludes to the biblical idea that people should treat others how they would like to be treated and the idea that people should love their enemies. Whether this is wrong or not is a different question, but it puts into perspective how many ways the Bible was interpreted, which rings true today on how the Constitution is interpreted in different ways. Although we try to be much more secular now, Winthrop hints to something foreshadowing that represents the status quo of religion in our country. Winthrop advocates for religious freedom, and even goes as far as to say there should be peace “between Christians and others.” This reflects our country today where we advocate for religious freedom, but “other” any other religion. By othering any other religion, we mark our citizens as second-class, as if to say Christianity is the official language, so to speak, of our country. A subtlety like this encourages the ideas of “Justice and Mercy” to be filtered through–not the Bible–but those wielding the power to say “this is how it should be interpreted.” Unfortunately, this does not usually represent the country fairly. Furthermore, the problem with Christian rhetoric it often becomes cliche and it makes for empty promises. One example of the cliche that it could become would be the overused language of getting “tougher on crime.” What this means on the surface area is that criminals will get longer sentences and communities will be policed more–overall, this means justice, but this idea of justice is outdated and it usually distracts the public with seeing more arrests as a way of saying this policing is working. However, no one ever stops to question if sentences are fair or if there is a method of rehabilitation/education that could help rid communities of crime. People are more focused on “Justice” because it is an attractive pillar of Christianity.

The same, for SOME folks.

Winthrop’s phrase, ‘A City Upon a Hill’ refers to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and how it would be in plain sight for others to follow and see as he believed it was a shining example of Puritan perfection. Personally, I believe this phrase is prevalent today because America is a prime example of “A City Upon a Hill.” Though our country is currently facing some controversial times right now, despite it all, we come together as “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” However, I do believe that it is all a load of crap today as well. Winthrop was being optimistic and hopeful for white Puritans like himself at the time and no one else. Today, Trump supporters argue that he will “make America great again” by advancing Christian values and beliefs. Yet, we consider ourselves “the land of the free?” Millions of people live in fear today since our newly elect President has been inaugurated such as Muslims, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and other minority groups.

During Winthrop’s time, America was not yet established and could have formed in anyway which is why Winthrop’s phrase was nothing but an innocent belief of American exceptionalism. He wanted to unite others and build communities as the Puritan he was. Today, Trump is considered by many as a “Baby Christian” which is an utter joke because if anyone is a true Christian they know the substantial difference between Christ’s definition of greatness and Trump’s. Examples that we have seen of him this past year are the complete opposite of what Jesus would consider as “making America great again” because he is trying to unify the country with hate and anger. Matthew 22:36-40 states, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” A true Christian who wants to make this country great again knows that Trump is the last person to ever follow the religion truly. Winthrop’s phrase is still prevalent in America, but followed in a way that is only true for white, Christian Americans.


-Rahma K.

A City upon Intolerance and Genocide

First and foremost, John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” absolutely does not carry the same context if it was used in speech today, and we can be thankful for this. I for one am certainly glad that we have overall improved our approach on human ethics to ascend beyond such an abysmal level of religious intolerance, gender inequality, and an acceptance of genocide.  The references to this model state in modern times refer to a sociopolitical transformed term. Rather than the primary focus of religion, “City upon a Hill” has become a model to represent democracy and a right to freedom for countries across the world. The reference to the term appeals to the general ignorance of the American public, where a “City upon a Hill” can be imagined as glorious and almighty, but was originally a fanatic’s fantasy of religious superiority and human inequality.


Anne Hutchinson, who lived during Winthrop’s time, believed that it was unnecessary to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the Christian institution as she encouraged looking to one’s own intuition to find salvation, as God lived inward amongst the souls of each and other, rather than through every day practice. In “The Humble Request” we learn how devout and intolerant the Puritans could be, “The Puritans exalted preaching; they taxed themselves voluntarily to secure additional preaching on market days by evangelical clergymen, who were called lecturers.” She was met with fierce opposition from the colony’s ministers, and was directly accused by John Winthrop of troubling the peace of the churches. Winthrop described her as a demonic extremist in his journals,  “hell-spawned agent of destructive anarchy”. Remaining confident with the belief that God remained within her, she countered Winthrop’s accusations intelligently over days of trial, but she would cement her fate as her character showed eminently whilst addressing the court in an impassioned outcry, “You have no power over my body, neither can you do me any harm…Therefore take heed how you proceed against me—for I know that, for this you go about to do to me, God will ruin you and your posterity and this whole state.” Hutchinson was shattering Christian ideals while paving the way for religious interpretation and women’s representation alike. Ultimately she and her family were banished from the Massachusetts “City upon a Hill”, to New Netherlands and were later murdered in a Native American raid (likely a retaliation of colonist aggression in the “Kiefts War”). New Netherlands (New York and New Jersey today) was a colony of considerable diversity, and its inhabitants carried a significant amount of war experience from Europe. The most gruesome interactions between Natives and colonists in all of U.S. history probably occurred in this region between the Dutch and Algonquian peoples. “(Native) Infants were torn from their mother’s breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents, and pieces thrown into the fire and in the water, and other sucklings, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck, and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone. Some were thrown into the river, and when the fathers and mothers endeavored to save them, the soldiers would not let them come on land but made both parents and children drown…”. New Netherlands was a religiously tolerant society however, and the blood-rage in many of their souls was a result of the blindness of conquest, as well as the influence of atrocities that the Massachusetts colony had committed previously. Their overall view of the Natives never fully reached the dreadful dehumanizing extent of pure genocidal intent; that the religion-imbued fanatics located on John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” were consumed by.

The most gruesome interactions between Natives and colonists in all of U.S. history probably occurred in this region between the Dutch and Algonquian peoples. “(Native) Infants were torn from their mother’s breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents, and pieces thrown into the fire and in the water, and other sucklings, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck, and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone. Some were thrown into the river, and when the fathers and mothers endeavored to save them, the soldiers would not let them come on land but made both parents and children drown…”. New Netherlands was a religiously tolerant society however, and the blood-rage in many of their souls was a result of the blindness of conquest, as well as the influence of atrocities that the Massachusetts colony had committed previously. Their overall view of the Natives never fully reached the dreadful dehumanizing extent of pure genocidal intent; that the religion-imbued fanatics located on John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” were consumed by.

Of all the savage bloodshed between the natives and the colonists before the revolution, some of the most horrific occurrences took place by the so-called “City upon a Hill”. In perhaps the most inhumane incident of all colonist and native exchanges, a Pequot fort containing 500 men, women, and children, was encircled by troops and incinerated. Only a handful managed to escape. The captain of the forces John Mason insisted that the attack was an act of God who “laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to scorn making [the Pequot fort] as a fiery Oven.” Even the Narragansett and Mohegan, the Native American allies of the English forces and also fierce enemies of the Pequot, were horrified by the brutal disregard for ethics. The colonists celebrated their victory, and affirmed their religious fanaticism, declaring the Pequot extinct, and explained their victory once again as an act of God: “Let the whole Earth be filled with his glory! Thus the lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their Land for an Inheritance.”


The Mystic Massacre during the Pequot War. Hundreds of men, women, and children were burned alive mercilessly. 

When John Winthrop landed alongside Arbella and its fleet, he was not focused on the presence of later dictators, globalization and trade, but rather, the establishment of Christian ideals on a clean slate. Invigorated by the lack of constraints and a dark history, he sought to create a society greater than its predecessors, “Secondly that he might haue the more occasion to manifest the work of his Spirit: first upon the wicked in [Page 34] moderating and restraining them: soe that the riche and mighty should not eate upp the poore nor the poore and dispised rise upp against and shake off theire yoake.” Winthrop wanted his city to be the most ideal place for a Christian, and one that would affect the lives of all who examined their lives. As centuries passed, and the fallacy of religion continued to be exposed, like the unraveling of the antiquated geocentric model; our concerns shifted to immediate concerns and threats. Milton writes in Areopagitica, what is far more relevant to today’s political agendas. Whereas, Winthrop focused solely on the institution of religion, Milton brings a radical concept of liberty that attempts to reverse the censorship. “While things are yet not constituted in Religion, that freedom of writing should berestrain’d by a discipline imitated from the Prelats, and learnt by them from the Inquisition to shut us up all again into the brest of a licencer, must needs give cause of doubt and discouragement to all learned and religious men. Who cannot but discern the finenes of this politic drift, and who are the contrivers; that while Bishops were to be baited down, then all Presses might be open; it was the peoples birthright and priviledge in time of Parlament, it was the breaking forth of light.” Milton references classical works in a well-thought prose that speaks to liberty and denounces the evil of tyranny.


Ronald Reagan faced a seemingly imminent but dwindling threat during the Cold War, and mentioned a “Shining City upon a Hill” to bring the American people together under an exaggeration of success. His focus was not establishing Christian ideals, but rather uniting the dreams and hopes of a nation to unite against a common foe. Barack Obama brings up the “City upon a Hill” at U. Mass, and mentions the imperfection of the dream over centuries of human inequality, but ultimately concludes that America has made significant advancements in civil rights, while pushing the boundaries of opportunity. He expressed contentment over the transformation and abundance of diversity in a city which carried a history of discrimination, “I see students that have come here from over 100 different countries, believing like those first settlers that they too could find a home in this City on a Hill – that they too could find success in this unlikeliest of places.” Obama mentions the “City upon a Hill” in a social manner, as well as Reagan, who also puts importance on the political implications. John Winthrop envisioned a wholly righteous and ideal Christian place for all of the world to admire, and while Obama and Reagan also speak to inspire the hopes and dreams of not just Americans, but  people across the world, their focus is far more centered on the movement of civil rights and based on maintaining political structure.


-Thomas Pham

The legacy of ” A city upon a hill”


John Winthrop, the first leader of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and devout Puritan, wrote A Modell of Christian Charity, to facilitate the development of a strong community, as he and many other puritan settlers were on their way to the new land on the ship Arabella. In his sermon he discusses how the colonist should treat each other in order to ensure the survival of the new colony as well as listing the three reasons for differentiation of rank in society. He notes that firstly, God demonstrates his wisdom in creating different ranks of man, each rank is meant to respect each other, and lastly it brings mankind closer together so that through love and respect we can also depend on one another. To finish his sermon, he states “For wee must consider that wee shall be as a city upon a hill”, meaning that the colony must follow those three guidelines in order for the community to survive because they will be watched by outsiders and if they fail as a community they will have failed God and their beliefs. Winthrop intended for the community to lead by example with Puritan beliefs, due to him and many other Puritans not being able to live under Charles I, who was against the Puritan ideology. Winthrop wanted each class to work together and be able to rely on one another for a properly functioning community, but today we have conflicts amongst majority of Americans in regards to beliefs, gender conformity, politics, and many more. In some regards the “city upon the hill” is still in tact in that America is still one of the leading countries for opportunity and equality, and in some aspects Winthrop was expressing a faith in American Nationalism that would predate the founding of the United States in 1776 which in a sense gave way to the idea of our first amendment. The key difference being that Winthrop was enforcing Puritan ideals and today we focus on a separation of church and state although religion does come up a lot in politics. John Milton on the other hand had different intentions on the meaning of “a city upon the hill” in his speech given to Parliament in 1644, he titled it AREOPAGITICA, in reference to the speech given to the ancient counsel of Athens in regards to the diminished power of the Aeropagus counsel, elders of the community, that would meet on top of a hill. Milton referenced the City on the hill to demonstrate just like the Aeropagus lost rights from the council, people elected from the community, the English people lost their rights when parliament put restrictions on literature. Both Winthrop and Milton are similar in their use of a “city upon a hill” to demonstrate the importance of freedom but they differ on what it means to be that city on the hill. Winthrop means to lead by example with puritan beliefs while Milton means to demonstrate the effects of restriction on their freedom, but they both are stressing the importance of freedom and respect of different ideas which in most aspects is still held in todays world although it is not always as effective as some may wish it to be.  The recent Women’s march that began in the united states was a movement seen all around the world, demonstrating just how important America is to the rest of the world. Marches were seen across the globe in support of women’s rights, although here in America women have more rights than many other women across the globe. The point being that America is still a “city upon the hill” in that across the globe we as a nation have influences everywhere. What happens in America is discussed globally whether that be good or bad. With such a powerful country and an emphasis on freedom of speech and equality, America is constantly in the spotlight and scrutinized for everything that happens as a nation. For example, the election of Trump is globally talked about and has many other governments not only responding on social media in response to Trumps winning the election but also taking political matters into their own hands to support international efforts that trump has just attempted to stop funding for. America will always be “the city upon the hill” I think because with such a powerful country that is so different and so free compared to most other places in the world, we will always be scrutinized for being essentially the symbol of freedom.

Getting the gist of the phrase “city upon a hill”

If we trace the origins of the phrase “city upon a hill” which was taken from Matthew chapter 5 of the Bible, the connotations are made pretty evident. Jesus, the speaker, is encouraging Christians to becoming a shining example of holiness; to practice all of the admirable qualities the “blessed” have (Matthew 5:3-11). Just as a city upon a hill cannot hide, Jesus asks that Christians therefore “in the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). This request isn’t meant to be one that asks Christians to boast about their good works, in fact in the very next chapter of Matthew, Jesus admonishes: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). The city upon a hill, in this sense, is then meant to serve as a “beacon”, and a Christian is not necessarily meant to be a flashy, pompadour, and self-righteous individual, but one that is a role model for goodness and holiness. Obviously we can’t ignore the denotative qualities of the phase “city upon a hill”. A city is a group of individuals coming under one nation; similarly, Christians recognize themselves as the people of God, and so there is a sense of nationality amongst the group. Of course, I believe that this second connotation that we may have derived from the phrase takes second chair. I say this primarily because how the metaphor was wedged in between two other metaphors (the salt and light, the candle and bowl) that were all essentially conveying the same message. This message, as we know, was summarized in Matthew 5:16.

After acknowledging that “city upon a hill” has two meanings, the latter not so important, it’s interesting that Winthrop chose to use the phrase. This isn’t to say that John Winthrop was hijacking the phrase and using it out context, only that he wasn’t using the primary metaphor. If we can recall, John Winthrop in his sermon, A Model of Christian Charity, uses “city upon a hill” to describe the colony being established in America. He asks his followers to obey certain cardinal values, for example “Justice and Mercy” (34), and treat others the way you want to be treated (35). The motive behind this sermon, is to encourage the people to work together, so that England can see that they are doing just fine on their own: “For wee must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill. The eies of all people are upon” (47). Winthrop’s sermon is optimistic, it encourages the people that they too can be a beacon of hope to other pilgrims, provided that they follow a certain set of ideals and more importantly, get along with each other (which ties in the nationality part).

In regards to modern usage of the phrase, if we can successfully separate the fact that John Winthrop was a fervent Christian, knowingly using the phrase with religious connotations, but moreover to encourage a pride of nationality, we can see that modern usage doesn’t do justice to Winthrop’s meaning and definitely not Jesus’. Winthrop, like Jesus was arguing for sense of morality, a goodness that could bring the people together and serve as a beacon, Regan on the other hand, focuses on the city aspect of the phrase. He remarks that we’re different, coming together under the same nation, but that we are a melting pot who is open to everyone. In the speech, he makes it clear that America is a beacon of freedom and that is the only attribute, not that it’s just or that its good or that it’s moral, as Jesus and Winthrop alluded to. Similarly, Obama’s farewell speech took on the same verbiage that America was a beacon of freedom, a melting pot, etc. which changes the original meaning significantly, but not exceptionally. Obviously secular people may disagree, arguing that they’re essentially equal to each other, but as a Christian myself I can see the ways the Word of God has been augmented to fulfill a separate agenda, in the case of Regan and Obama, almost completely. Of course, there are parallels, the ones I have aforementioned, and so I can definitely see the similarities though they are broad.


-Sara Nuila-Chae

“City Upon a Hill”

In A Model of Christian Charity, Winthrop directs his sermon towards the importance of obeying God and prioritizing him as they construct their colonial life. The basis of religion having an impact in government should seem long gone since our current political system reiterates a society where church and state should be separate but are they? While the message has been altered for a personal agenda of the person quoting “city upon a hill” the comparisons being made cannot be ignored. The City in which discussed from a president-elect perspective refers to the United States and how we choose to go about that information, being put on a Pedestal or Hill, can result in either thriving in society or suffering, because automatically we’re to believe there is no other option. Winthrop not only reiterated the importance of God but also what makes someone a “true Christian”. He states, “First of all, true Christians are of one body in Christ (1 Cor. 12). Ye are the body of Christ and members of their part. All the parts of this body being thus united are made so contiguous in a special relation as they must needs partake of each other’s strength and infirmity; joy and sorrow, weal and woe. If one member suffers, all suffer with it, if one be in honor, all rejoice with it” (5). We can also say that when used in politics rather than it being “true Christians” what is meant is “true Americans”, the message should be that we should be equal and when one member suffers so will everyone else but does it happen that way? When people in society are thriving and others are struggling we have become a political system in which being left behind in support, literally and figuratively, is evident. When Obama, for instance, used this sermon as an anti-Trump slogan he predicted an outcome where the strive to being a “true American” will be taken out of context and when done so will result in many people getting left behind, suffering.

Winthrop’s intention as I perceive through this sermon was optimism for the colonized land; to lead a group of people whom aspire to be “true Christians” such as he was. The lingering threat that someone will strive away from being a “true Christian” is met with an ultimatum; if you stay behind we all crumble since you’re going against God. What has evolved overtime within our political system is that when someone stays behind then they will suffer while everyone else will go on being a “true American” along with their current leader, would we also say that this leader is being displayed as a “God”? Is there a possibility that Winthrop’s sermon has been twisted into making a society such as the United States believe that their leader is equivalent to a God, in a way that we should not question nor differ from their philosophy?

-Kristy Frausto

Different Meanings, Same Consequences

For Winthrop, it might have just been wishful thinking. I do not think the Arbella passengers would have been as adrenalized if Winthrop have called the new world a vacant lot-not that it was vacant anyway. But just as literature can show us a glimpse of the world through the text we are reading, I have learned it ends up working both ways. “A City Upon a Hill” was fed to the passengers of the Arbella through a sermon, along with an immense amount of alcohol; and centuries later, after the construction of the “strongest nation in the world” (which, in fact, was built on slavery and genocide) many of us continue to believe we are somehow superior than-? Oh yeah, “third-world” nations.

It is difficult to identify when the meaning of the phrase “A City Upon a Hill” shifted. But I think it has been internalized so deeply into people that grow up in this country, and even used to justify the oppression of folks that maybe do not look like the people that were on the Arbella or maybe do not hold the same religious beliefs as they did.

For Ronald Reagan, I personally do not think it was difficult for him to regurgitate “A City Upon a Hill” in his farewell speech. It even sounded nice. The way the camera zoomed in and everything-real nice. Probably just as nice as the newest 21st century research university, a University of California, built right in the center of California. Where? Low-key…upon a hill.


Thanks for reading!

-Israel Alonso

Today`s interpretation of “A City Upon a Hill”

John Winthrop definitely adheres to the puritanical ideology that emphasizes religion as a prominent part of the community. In A Modell of Christian Charity, Winthrop expresses the importance of serving God in order to have a prosperous community, stating, “now the onely way to avoyde this shipwracke, and to provide for our posterity, is to followe the counsell of Micah, to doe justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God” (47). Modern day Americans may view the saying “a city up on a hill” similarly to Winthrop, agreeing that the America is meant to be viewed as an example of success and in some ways a near-utopic society. Thus, promoting values that others must admire and work towards, as a land that is worthy of praise and would “shame the faces of many of God`s worthy servants” (48). Essentially Winthrop describes a society that is dependent on the entitlement that God has provided which exudes the concept of American exceptionalism even though America has not been introduced yet. Today`s society, on the other hand, does not consider this saying to be an acknowledgment of a shining city declared by divine right, instead the city upon a hill has earned the right to be envied by those around it. Granted in Ronald Regan`s address, he hopes that God blesses America but not because America, as the shining city on the hill, is the only deserving land, but in the hope that America is blessed to preform and prosper so that it could be held up on that pedestal.Of course, historical context must be taken into consideration seeing as America was not the America we know today during Winthrop`s era. America didn’t yet exist as the power house that it is today. The small colonies of settlers has not yet earned the name “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” much less the moniker of a shining city upon a hill. In short, the difference between today`s interpretation of this phrase and Winthrop`s, differs based on the thought that Americans are not the ideal nation because we were appointed by God, but in the hopes that we will become the ideal nation by the grace of God.

Much more recently the saying continues to reign true for America in the context of Ronald Regan`s farewell address. In the Democratic convention Barack Obama states in his speech, that the “early settlers dreamt of building a city upon a hill” that the world would watch to see if America would succeed. John Milton acknowledges these separate attitudes towards the English parliament in reference to Areopagatica. He states, “nevertheless there being three principall things, without which all praising is but Courtship and flattery, First, when that only is prais’d which is solidly worth praise: next, when greatest likelihoods are brought that such things are truly and really in those persons to whom they are ascrib’d, the other, when he who praises, by shewing that such his actuall perswasion is of whom he writes, can demonstrate that he flatters not.” Thus, Milton points out that those responsible for starting this new land did not have a collective attitude towards its creation. Instead, the interpretation of the phrase is segregated amongst those who believe that the city will be a success because God has decided it be so, those who will work hard to make it prosper and care for the community to do so, and those who act as a shining city and actually uphold the name instead of just putting on a façade. According to Milton the latter deserves the praise that comes with the name.  Barack Obama`s response to Donald Trump`s actions are due to the fact that we have upheld this legacy of being a shining city upon a hill, but as Milton says, it is all flattery and the praise is not deserved.In other words, Obama belittles Donald Trump`s sense of entitlement and does not believe that he will actually make America great, and rather mask the turmoil and promote its greatness. A Humble Request of His Majesties Loyal Subjects greatly emphasizes, persecution played a major role in Winthrop`s community being thought of as a shining city. Acceptance of different types of Christian worship, like separatists for example, signified tolerance to him. During Barrack Obama this signal of tolerance was built on diversity and I am prepared for Trump`s  be built on economics. Overall, the expression, “a shinning city on a hill” can be interpreted differently based on the way one views the community and its governments`s values.

-Kamani Morrow