I think you're correct that society improves one step at a time....but
it also regresses the same way. That's the mechanism of all change.
"Traditional" Christmases might have been events of fornication and
drunkenness....but so was daily life. Perhaps it's the "any excuse for
a party" school of excess.
I don't think the disapproval of Puritans can be be read as an even
handed critique. They attacked all "excess" rather across the
board....that it had a "religious" format no doubt was particularly
inciteful...but a flower in your button hole could get one pilloried or
Rather than a "moral" yardstick I'm more prone to Marxist (economic)
(cui bono...who benefits?) measurements.
The poverty, starvation and deprivation so prevalent in earlier eras was
a product of individuals lacking opportunities to easily survive, much
less better themselves. Feudalism and it's mercantilist aftermaths were
I agree that all change is fought by those with positive positions in
the status-quo. Even within destitute families....those with even
marginal power or influence might resist any change for the better that
might dislodge them from their positions...."repressive" "conservative"
and "regressive" positions are often held by the very poor and
destitute....who might see ANY change as threatening. who might be most
most likely to lose status from progressive social directions.
Religion isn't a different type of social power....it's among the
"non-wealth" influences....those who do not covet power and influence
(eg. stereotypical Quaker or Buddhists) are less likey to abuse
religious influence....for by enforcing extreme views that power is
wielded and held.
Always a pleasure, richard