BOOKS TO NOTE
Rehearsing with Gods: Photographs and Essays on the Bread and Puppet Theater. Photographs by Ronald T. Simon. Text by Marc Estrin. Chelsea Green, 2004; $35.
Visually stunning, Rehearsing with Gods documents Bread and Puppet Theater’s unique place in the American Left, which might be summed up in its 1984 manifesto “Why Cheap Art?”: “People have been thinking too long that art is a privilege of the museums & the rich. Art is not business! It does not belong to banks & fancy investors. Art is food. You can’t eat it but it feeds you.” Marc Estrin is a novelist, puppeteer, and former UU minister. Ronald Simon, a Canadian photographer, has been documenting the work of Peter Schumann, Bread and Puppet’s creative genius, for twenty years.
Voices of the Land joins photographs and essays by writers from many backgrounds in celebration of a sense of place and of rootedness in the land.
American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans. By Eve LaPlante. HarperCollins, 2004; $24.95.
This occasionally meandering biography nonetheless tells a riveting tale of the civil and religious foundations of American culture. Transcripts from Anne Hutchinson’s two trials—one civil in November 1637, one ecclesiastical in March 1638—provide a rare glimpse into the religious thought of a seventeenth-century Puritan woman of uncommon intelligence, religious faith, and bravery. A visionary and radical Calvinist who claimed divine revelation, Hutchinson outraged her Boston neighbors by not only teaching at women’s gatherings in her home but also challenging the fitness of male ministers. After betrayal by her mentor the Rev. John Cotton, banishment, a four-month incarceration apart from her family, and excommunication from the First Church of Boston (which much later became Unitarian), Anne Hutchinson still declared, “The Lord judges not as man judges. Better to be cast out of the church than to deny Christ.”
In April 1638, six months into her sixteenth pregnancy, 46-year-old Anne walked from present-day Quincy, Massachusetts, to Providence, Rhode Island, and then went on to join her husband and other exiles in the creation of Portsmouth. Four years later, she moved her family again to escape expanding English control and resettled in Pelham Bay in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam—where she and her family were killed a year later by the native Siwanoy.