God has been a prominent figure in people s lives throughout American history. But, as this country progressed to what it is today, God s significance in society became less and less significant. Puritan s entire lifestyle was centered on God and his teachings. They believed that everyone was born a sinner, that at any moment God could dismiss a person and condemned them to hell.
Jonathan Edwards, a Puritan, accurately expressed their views in a sermon when he said, The God that holds you over the pit of Hell, much as one hold a spider, or some other loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy or nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight (71). Edwards is saying that God is too great and pure to concern himself with every minute individual on Earth.
If one wishes to get into Heaven on their judgment day, one must lead their life precisely as He would want them to. If they choose otherwise, he may condemn them to Hell. The sermons were not always as harsh as this. They also served to give people a reason to want to be in Heaven and to believe in Him. At the end of the sermon, John Edwards said, And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners (72).
Because of the pressure from society to believe in God and live, as He would want, God was the key figure in people s lives. In their eyes, God is the center of the universe, and nothing else really mattered. During the Age of Reason, religion and the views of the Bible, started to fade in importance as the country blossomed and bloomed. He was still a key figure whom people looked to for guidance and praise, but he was not nearly as significant in their daily lifestyle.
In the Speech of the Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry said, There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us (126). God is still there in this era, but not as all in-compassing and extraordinary as in Puritan times. if we make proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power (126), is something Patrick Henry said in this same speech. He is saying that God is still there for the people, but their lives are now left up to the people rather than being predestined by God.
Since God is now not so involved in every decision one makes, his prominence is starting to fade away. Transcendentalism is when God took on almost another role, and really started to faze away. In this era, God was portrayed more through nature than anything. In Nature, Thoreau said, In the woods is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign (268). People believed that God s beauty was portrayed through nature and that if they communed with it, and respected it, that they were that much closer to Him.
The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am a part, a parcel of God (Thoreau, 268),was said when the narrator was in nature. They felt like God was flowing through them when they were one with nature. Even with this newfound way of looking at God, most of the population was more concerned with the new booming industry in America, rather than church and God himself. In this era, people started to forget about the one thing that had been so important to them in years before. And finally, in the Age of Realism, God s role was almost non-existent.
In The Story of an Hour, Chopin did not mention His name, whereas in every other literary movement, He was at least mentioned once. This refrain tells me that people became more concerned with other things at this time in our history than faith. God had finally taken a back seat to other things in people s lives. God s role slowly diminished, and stepped down form its pedestal through the literary movements. Although God is still significant in many people s lives today, He is no where near as prominent in this country, as he was in the beginning.