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Dr_Dredd's avatar

What do you think about this quote by H.L. Mencken? "Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."?

Asked by Dr_Dredd (10528points) June 22nd, 2010

Discuss amongst yourselves. :-)

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7 Answers

Draconess25's avatar

I dunno much about Puritans, but it’s funny!

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Mencken is also the author of one of my favorite quotes:

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. ”

I throw that one at my conservative friends all the time.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I love that guy. I remember reading that when I was a kid and laughing my arse off, because it’s (mostly) true. Believe me, if you were brought up in the church I was brought up in, you’d know just how true.

But even so-called “Puritans” weren’t against a little bundling now and again, back in the day.

Jeruba's avatar

Puritanism is a state of mind and does not just refer to a religious sect in the colonial days of New England.

This quip by Mencken is not, of course, a literal definition, but like most humor it contains a kernel of truth that is highly—even joltingly—recognizable to anyone who has lived under the perpetual scowl of puritanical thinking.

wundayatta's avatar

We never speak of our feelings. We never inquire after someone else’s except in the pro forma way that must always be answered, “fine.” We work hard—all the time, and we never let silly things like depression or bad luck get in our way. We are capable of forming our own lives. Not doing so is an unpardonable weakness.

This is all a serious business. We owe it to our parents and children. We should not be a burden on anyone. We carry our own weight. We are never satisfied. There is always more to do before we rest. In fact, we believe we’ll have all the rest we need once we’re dead. We work all the time, never breaking to be entertained, God forbid at a comedy club!

We are Puritans, and we do not approve of happiness.

Cruiser's avatar

I don’t think you have to be Puritan to posses the spite and jealousy that infects peoples minds over their disdain of others seemingly perfectly happy lives. I bump into people like that all the time!!

JLeslie's avatar

Not sure what to think. To me it means that Puritans value suffering, and enjoyment must mean something devilish is going on. Think about it, Jesus is depicted as suffering on the cross, and it is held up as a great and wonderful thing, and the Devil is having a party of sin. I find it sad to be honest.

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