COWEN: Why would anyone ever have wanted to be a Puritan?
NEW: That’s a great question. That’s a terrific question and one that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. Being a Puritan is a great way to live a psychologically very candid life, [laughs] if what you want is actually not to be repressed at all.
We think of the Puritans as very repressed, but instead, you want to be marinating in and giving a lot of attention to all of your own insecurities and sense of, “I goofed that up. I messed that one up. Oh, that didn’t work out very well.” If you want to cultivate your inner life, it’s really great to be a Puritan.
If you want to live a kind of high-octane life of extremes, you want to feel the exultation of a day like this in New England, where the green of the grass and the blue of the sky announce to you that God’s creation is the most eloquent of all creations. If that’s what you’re after, that kind of intensity, New England Puritanism is a really good religion for you.