In mid-seventeenth century Boston, Puritan authorities summoned the town's executioner to burn copies of William Pynchon's The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption, a text they deemed "derogatory, erroneous, unsound, and heretical." Today, the slim quarto book (just 158 pages in length), authored by an early ancestor of Thomas Pynchon, is often considered to be one of the first books banned in the United States. In this essay by Daniel Crown, a freelance writer especially interested in colonial history, visitors can learn more about this text, its condemnation, and what this incident reveals about the relationship between church and state in colonial America. As Crown explains, although "a modern reader need only fear boredom from Pynchon's exegesis on the origins of Grace," the book was controversial because it reflected Pynchon's criticisms of Massachusetts clergy and his support for increased religious tolerance. Crown's essay is accompanied by a number of fascinating illustrations and primary documents, including the original title page to Pynchon's book and a section from a 1937 mural by Umberto Romano that depicts the event.
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