Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

In a Moral Wilderness

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

In a Moral Wilderness

Article excerpt

.. forgive us as we forgive ..." First Congregational Church, Lyme, CT 1735

Pastor and deacons hear forced confessions

of those guilty of sinful behavior:

accused of drunkenness, intemperance,

of evil speaking, of libelous speech,

of fornication, of adultery ...

Sitting in judgment, they weigh decisions:

Christian charity, or the whipping-post,

or the stocks in the sheep-mowed green in front of the church?

Transgressions confessed and repented of

restore grace with the gift of forgiveness.

But the misconduct of Rev. D. D.,

who quietly moved to town when he was fifty-four

after leaving the last church he had served,

and accepted a position as schoolmaster,

required more than a simple confession.

A servant in the house next door to the school

one day peeked through a crack in the schoolhouse wall

after the bell had rung and the children flown,

and had seen a neighbors ten-year-old daughter

stood on a school desk, being examined. …

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