Parallel Universes with Lori Rogers-Stokes

When the Puritans arrived in the 17th century, they created twp parallel universes – one for themselves and one for Native people. Within their own world, the Puritans established two more parallel worlds: their society and economy and, opposing it, their faith. Scholar Lori Rogers-Stokes explores the kinship between Congregationalism and Native society – and what’s been lost by their inability to connect. Click here for a 87-minute presentation recorded on January 18, 2023 by the Partnership of Historic Bostons.

(Above) Partnership Vice-president Sarah Stewart hosted the presentation by Lori Rogers-Stokes, an independent scholar and author of Records of Trial from Thomas Shepard’s Church in Cambridge, 1638-1629, Heroic Souls. She is working on a new book on Indigenous Congregationalism in Woodland New England.

In this eloquent presentation, scholar and author Lori Rogers-Stokes argues that the full extent, impact, and consequences of the parallel universes of early New England represent a fundamental lost opportunity for the modern world. If the Puritans had been able to put their communal Congregational ideal first, ahead of personal profit, and to align with the Indigenous nations around them, their society might have been the start of a truly new world. The entrenched economic inequality, slavery, oppression, and environmental annihilation that characterized the colonization of the Eastern Woodlands and every period following it, from 1620 to 2022, might never have happened.

This talk is based on and illustrated by the thousands of pages of Congregational church records that Lori Rogers-Stokes has transcribed over the past 12 years as a contributing editor for New England’s Hidden Histories. Congregational church records are the most important untapped written primary source in American history. By providing information on the spiritual lives of Indigenous, Black, and English women and men, free and enslaved, without political comment or prejudice, they represent an invaluable counterweight to civil records generated by New England town meetings and judicial courts.