Maps of Heaven, Maps of Hell: Religious Terror as Memory from the Puritans to Stephen King

By Edward J. Ingebretsen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE

Nostalgia and Terror:
Holy Ghosts

There are terrible spirits, ghosts, in the air of America.

—D. H. LAWRENCE, "EDGAR ALLAN POE"

We shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.

—JOHN WINTHROP, "A MODEL OF CHRISTIAN CHARITY"

To know God is to be struck with horror and amazement, for then and only then does one realize his own character."

—CITED IN SAGE, P. 74


A Troubled House

How like an iron cage was that which they called Liberty.

—HAWTHORNE, "MAIN STREET," P. 1031

Old habits die hard, although none die so hard that they can't be resurrected in new guises, as people in addictive processes discover. So it is not surprising that after three hundred years, a cultural habit of religion, legally silenced, still speaks loudly enough to be heard. Like the vampire, that ironic cultural icon (also a religious image, once removed), the discourse and rhythms of religion seem unkillable, endlessly adaptable. On the one hand, a habit of religious reading encouraged budding young naturalists like Jonathan Edwards (and his errant student of the spiritual,

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