At some point I hope the Christian Century will publish my review of Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul. But if you cannot wait that long for a Williams fix, I would encourage you to check out Jim Cullen’s post: “Tolerating Roger Williams.” Cullen writes about Williams as part of his ongoing American History Now blog series on the rise and fall of the self-made man in American culture. Here is a taste:
He founded – and in a half-century as a tireless administrator, solidified and protected – Rhode Island as a haven of tolerance. It’s important to make clear, however, that this was simply a means to an end: Williams wanted the right to worship as he (and he alone, as he refused to pray even with his wife) saw fit. He did help establish the first Baptist church in America, but his solitary spirit – what he himself described as “the restless unsatisfiedness of my soul” (Gausted 182) – a quickly asserted itself and he left it. Williams has long been recognized for his unusually good relationships with Native Americans, in part because he learned their language and bargained with them in good faith. But at some level he was comfortable with Indians because in their paganism they posed no risk of Christian hypocrisy. Figuratively speaking, he belonged to a congregation of one.