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  • Writer's pictureOld Bone

Roger Williams ~ The Complete Man

Updated: May 21, 2020

I’m about half way through John Barry’s, Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul – Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty. The book is a bit plodding and slow at times, but I’m enjoying it and learning much, nonetheless. I love this passage I read a few days ago: "Handling a canoe required skill; Williams became adept and would use a canoe for the next fifty years. That required physical labor, hard labor, muscle-numbing labor, skin-blistering labor. . . . miles in a day meant digging a paddle into the water stroke after stroke after stroke after stroke. Doing this day after day after day after day hardened the hands, built the forearms, the triceps, the shoulders, the back, the legs. To do that in summer, the air thick with humidity, exposed to sun hours at a time, and in winter, the air so cold that breathing sent sharp tiny stabs into the lungs, the spray from the sea freezing to hair, required great physical hardiness. This would have given Williams a hard, powerful body. Such labor would have also given him a sensibility of his own physicality unusual compared with those ministers—including all other Massachusetts clergy—supported financially by their congregations. Those who labor as Williams did, when they also have intellect and education, often develop both great confidence in themselves and some disdain for those who do no physical labor. Williams would show such disdain, writing, 'I know what it is to Study, to Preach, to be an Elder, to be applauded, and yet what it is at the Oar, to dig with the Spade, and Plow, to labour and travel day and night amongst English, amongst Barbarians.'" Carry on.

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