Faith creates Truth?

Mary Rowlandson’s time as a captive to the Native Algonquian’s brought up what it’s like to be a captive. Her views towards the indigenous people were for the most part always negative. Her first time seeing them she described them as black creatures “which made the place a lively resemblance of hell”. While she may have wanted the audience to see the natives as these barbaric people because of the actions they were expressing towards her and the other captives, I was far more displeased with Rowlandson actions and thoughts towards the natives. Therefore, this question of whether we can see the intolerance towards the indigenous people from Rowlandson writing in my opinion is complicated to either disagree or agree with. However, if I had to choose I would be leaning towards yes it does show intolerance, but in my opinion, I would say that intolerance towards the indigenous people is rooted from the faith of the Englishmen/women.

Rowlandson whole captivity is always looked as God’s way of punishing her and her people because of their sins, she views it to cleanse herself and her people of the sins they had committed. I feel like she wanted the audience back then to view her as a hardcore worshiper that let these natives treat her so savagely because the return to her family and loved ones would be after she was cleansed by God. Faith creates differences between different groups of people which causes the misunderstanding between different groups of people. Even reading throughout her experience with the natives I felt more sympathy towards the natives than her. It showcased in my view the hardships that they went though when they were trying to overpower the English because of what they have done to the natives throughout history. The famine was present during her captivity, and she would see this as barbaric, she was to blind to see beyond her own ideals about the natives to understand what her captivity was about. This whole idea that God was with her that her faith in God was never questioned she never was able to see her captivators as human. Therefore, she was able to wish upon them death and far worse punishment than what she endured because there was no sympathy that her faith extended towards the indigenous people.

I think that her writing of her struggles didn’t paint a clear picture, because she was explaining her captivity as part of trials of her faith. She didn’t see it as anything other than that, she depicted the natives in such a negative light because that’s all she knew how to. She couldn’t sympathize nor see them as equal to her because her faith couldn’t be questioned. Mary Rowlandson shows just how one-sided people can be to create their own view towards their experiences when faith is involved. Therefore, depicting an unclear image of the indigenous people that contributes to the unfair treatment towards them.

  • Maria Mendiola

Divide of classes; dividing love

In John Dryden’s “The Indian Emperour, or the Conquest of Mexico,” is the precursor to the repetitious cycle of division of classes, and inability to embark on relationships based on a difference of ethnicity, nationality, race, and specifically religion.  Dryden, essentially, captures the Romeo and Juliet-esque tragic love story that is occurring amidst the two empires -that of the Aztecs and the imperialists.  In imagining what this theatrical portrayal must have been like for the onlookers, it can be concluded that although many spectators where there for social status purposes, some must have been able to have taken some sort of introspective experience from the play.

In addition, the twist is that Dryden’s attempt at exposing such a political and nationalistic divide, should have resonated even louder within the confines of that theater.  The theater, consisting of a diversity that has been broken up into categories, literally based on their seating.

The whole spectacle rings true still today.  There are publishers of every sort: singers, poets, songwriters, bloggers, playwrights, filmmakers and directors, attempting to raise an awareness towards an important social issue.  For example, social media outlets of today, whether it be the news, or facebook, or twitter, carries a plethora of information intended to show us the breakdown that is occurring within the nationalistic part of our society.  The lack of solidarity, and unity is similar to what Dryden’s point of view is.  We have seen footage after footage, of people yelling others for speaking a language other than English, thus exposing the xenophobia that many feel.

Dryden’s work is a work of modernity, campaigning for the notion to rid of old ways and ideals that only seem to stifle the growth of a nation.  Similarly, that is the case with today.  Ironically, we seem to be going backwards.  Love and the ability to combine beliefes does not seem to be the resolution at the moment.

-Maricela Martinez

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

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

A City Upon a Hill: Is Still True Today

During Winthrop’s time the phrase ‘A City Upon a Hill’ meant that the Massachusetts Bay colony would be an example of Puritan perfection, and would be a holy state for others to follow. However, today America strongly believes in a separation between ‘church’ and ‘state’. There is no question that the Puritan work ethic is rich in this nation’s foundation, but as our first Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting free speech” (US Const. amend. I, sect. 2). Therefore, today I think that the phrase ‘A City Upon a Hill’ means something more along the lines of a country for others to follow. The reason I say country and not city is because the U.S. has changed significantly since the Massachusetts Bay, or even the thirteen colonies for that matter in size, culture, and mentality. Although this country is very diverse, we are still one nation (under God). In John Winthrop’s A Modell for a Christian Chairty, he states “For this end, wee must be knitt together, in this worke, as one man. Wee must entertaine each other in brotherly [Page 47] affection. Wee must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of other’s necessities. Wee must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekeness, gentlenes, patience and liberality. Wee must delight in eache other; make other’s conditions our oune; rejoice together, mourne together, labour and suffer together, allwayes haueving before our eyes our commission and community in the worke, as members of the same bod” (Winthrop). This passage is significant because it conveys how Winthrop wants the community to think as one body moving in one direction, and hence, uplifting their people. In a way, that correlates to our country today, whether it’s tragic or incredible moments we stand together, and prevail, and root for one another. I think American exceptionalism was deeply influenced by Winthrop because in the founding of the U.S. our founding father agreed that we would think alike and build the new formed nation, but that this country would be like no other. In a sense, all of this is true, as the U.S. has freedoms and liberties found nowhere else in the world.

-Benjamin Montes

City upon a Hill: Religious vs. Political

In Winthrop’s time, the US was yet to be established. At that time the country could’ve been molded into anything in anyway. Whether a democracy, monarchy or dictatorship, this country and how it was going to be developed was going to put an impact around the world. John Winthrop refers to “City upon a Hill” religiously because he sees the new world as an opportunity to create a foundation of his Puritan faith and to spread it across. Religiously “City upon a Hill” infers to a community that follows their faith and ideals of God. Years later the phrase is reformed to politically symbolize the free nation filled with colored opportunities for its citizens.

The phrase holds the same meaning as it did in Winthrop’s time, because in the 21st century, every day we witness revolutionary ideas in technology, society, religion, etc. Although “the shining city” isn’t completely perfect and the concept of a free nation may be at risk in light of recent political happenings, we have come so far from what Winthrop would’ve have imagined as a Puritan. From Winthrop to Reagan to Obama, every time this phrase is used the world has advanced greatly since the last time it was used, becoming a “city on the hill” has led to American exceptionalism. Milton’s reference to the term is based on Greek mythology, however it imposes the same idea of power.

John Milton’s approach to the phrase is very liberal. Like it’s mentioned in Ronald Reagan’s farewell speech “if the city had walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone who had the will and heart to open them”. Reagan and Milton allude to “the city” as a place where everyone believes in God and the economy is perfect. Whether used in a religious context or a political context, this phrase gives out the same theme every time, to introduce power.

-Ravneet Dhillon

The Glorious City in Scrutiny

Today, the concept of a city upon a hill evokes a different meaning than in the time of John Winthrop, which came from a biblical ideal. In Matthew 5:14, Christ tells his followers “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” This brings immediately to mind the image of a lighthouse rising high above the cliff face, such that its beacon cannot be obscured by fog, rocks, trees and waves.


In Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity” sermon, Winthrop describes the rules and regulations governing the aforementioned Christian charity. It is his belief, then, that the American experiment would be scrutinized for all time, and as such, must be an idyllic, Christian society of goodwill. Put plainly, Americans must be perfect, charitable Christians, as they are to be visible above the metaphorical fog, rocks, trees and waves of the world.

Contrast this with Reagan’s idea of a city upon a hill. Reagan describes a beautiful utopia, a “shining city… A tall, proud city, built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, god-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace.” No longer is the city upon a hill a scrutinized place that cannot hide, instead, Reagan says, the city is now “a beacon; still a magnet for all of the lost pilgrims who are hurtling through the darkness.”

It appears at first that the two are describing the same concept, a charitable and faithful city on a hill, visible to all, but Reagan’s ideas lacks the idea of scrutiny. Now, the lighthouse is actually fulfilling its job of guiding people. Reagan no longer sees America as a place that must be great because it is so visible, Reagan sees America as a place that is so visible simply because it is great. In this way, the idea of visibility has fundamentally changed.


-Ross Koppel

Motivation or Faith?

The phrase “City upon a Hill” coined by Winthrop has taken different meanings overtime. Historically Winthrop coined this phrase from the bible and created a phrase that will definitely precede itself. In the phrase, I believe, he strategically used the words hill and city. He is using the term hill to demonstrate that a hill is high up, closer to the sky, which is conventionally to believe as heaven. The city to which he is referring to is in reference to creating something that is large and wide, alluding to something that seems impossible to achieve. Faith is something that has been integrated in our society for years and has proven to take toll on matters that don’t exactly require faith. In Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” phrase, it is most likely true that he is talking about Christianity and how with the power of God he will be able to find new land on his expedition. In current times, I believe the phrase has been used as a motivational piece in order to rally people together as a country and remind us of the patriotism that most people in a country share. It seems that the faith-based phrase lost it’s original religious message, but still finds life in other ways. It is possible to see that Winthrop’s phrase is a form of “American exceptionalism” due to the poignant nature of the phrase. Even though the phrase “City upon a Hill” most likely doesn’t have it’s religious-based tag anymore, is it still affective in today’s time? Also, will the phrase “City upon a Hill” carry on as a significant phrase for years to come, regardless of it’s original meaning?

-Anthony Miller