American Puritans & Game of Thrones

Shame! Shame! Shame! Westeros’s Faith Militant and America’s Puritans

By Jenny Ng, Karla Frias and Victoria Hayes

The New England Puritans were a solemn, austere people. They lived simply and tried to live a “pure” life. A pure life was one dedicated to the teachings of God and one of self abnegation. This was because they believed that worldly pleasures, pleasures of the, starved their soul and distanced them from God. In the HBO series Game of Thrones, there are many diverse religions trying to make sense of their world. Whether it be the Old Gods of the Forest, The Many-Faced God of Braavos or and the Lord of Light, people want to find a connection with some higher being in order to endure the horrors of the world that makes up Game of Thrones. But the religion that comes closest to the religion of the early colonists is The Faith of the Seven, more specifically the Faith Militant Uprising that it produces.

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Image Via Wikipedia

It was said that John Calvin was highly intelligent and morally sound of character in terms of his faith. He was full of mercy and forgiveness and kindness. However, if he saw God’s will disobeyed and sin lurking in a man he was unflinching, unforgiving and severe. This demeanor towards man’s sin was inherited by his followers. We can see this in Jonathan Edwards, a man who spoke calmly as he told his followers that they “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 […]will you be content to be the children of the devil? […] If this should be the case with you, you will eternally curse this day, and curse the day that ever you was born” (344). Edward’s focuses on the affect of how his flock will feel in the same way the Faith Militant is interested in using the ideas of damnation in the eyes of of their gods and shame tactics to ensure a moral correction. Each group effectively uses fear to corral their followers into order under the pretense of spiritual submission. As sinister as this sounds many followers of each group believe they are doing this benevolently like a teacher correcting a child.

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Source:http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/game-of-thrones-recap-season-six-episode-10/news-story/f891d21371e78ecc247adf26716be9cb

The Faith of the Seven is much like the Roman Catholic Church. The Faith is based on the idea a single supreme entity is reflected in seven unique aspects; The Father, The Mother, The Warrior, The Maiden, The Smith, The Crone and The Stranger similarly to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of the catholic Church. The temples and places of worship are grand, there are Septors and Septas, much like priests and nuns, and it can be said that the religion is rank with corruption and greed. In Game of Thrones, the High Septor is arrested in a brothel, a place where he most certainly should not be found. Enter the High Sparrow, the John Calvin of The Faith. He is a humble, grandfatherly, kindly seeming old man wearing a dirty long tunic, also known as the eponymous potato sack, and no shoes. He reinstates the Faith Militant and the Faith takes an extreme turn. As the Calvinists were a smaller branch of Protestantism, the Sparrows are a small group that is born from the Faith. The followers all wear rags and carve the Seven Pointed Star into their foreheads.

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Source: http://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/What-Did-Carving-Loras-Head-Mean-Game-Thrones-41781429

In Game of Thrones, the High Sparrow preaches love and forgiveness, but he uses harsh tactics to force his enemies to confess or to repent. He holds Margaery and Loras Tyrell captive, and they are starved, beaten and tortured. Cersei Lannister is made to confess her sins after months of captivity. Ser Loras also cracks under the pressure and confesses his sins to the sparrows. The High Sparrow tells all, “The God’s justice is fierce, but also fair. The Warrior punishes those who believe themselves beyond the reach of justice; but the Mother shows her mercy to those who kneel before her.” The Faith Militant and Puritans believe you need to live a life of self-abnegation in order to find favor with God/gods and your peers will bully you in order to correct you lest you taint the community with unholy miasma.

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Source: https://www.gameofthronesquote.com/margaery-tyrell/ive-had-lots-of-time-to-think-about-how-good-i-was-at

Natural Men’s prudence and care to to preserve their own lives or the lives of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment. To this, divine providence and and universal experience do also bear testimony. There is this clear evidence that men’s own wisdom does not secure them from death; that if it were otherwise we should see some difference between wise and politic men of the world, and others, regard to their liableness to an early and unexpected death…

Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” pg. 433

This quote explains the scenes when the High Sparrow convicts the Queen Cersei, Margaery, and her brother, Loras  that no matter how wise or high status one has, there are still unable to escape their sins and hide in the eyes of God. In this case the Faith Militant. It’s natural for humans to try and save themselves from death and judgement,  but sinners will not be forgiven by God and they will be punished. Ultimately they would have to repent and testify their wrong doings by receiving punishment. In GoT, Cersei is sentenced to perform the Walk of Atonement(Shame) for having sexual relations and bearing children with her twin brother and Margaery and Loras are imprisoned, tortured and humiliated in a dungeon because of Loras’s sexual preference for men.
It can be seen that both religions are very strict with their regulations and the punishments are severe to the mind and body.

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11 thoughts on “Shame! Shame! Shame! Westeros’s Faith Militant and America’s Puritans

  1. Although I do not know much about Game of Thrones but from what I have heard is that it is based on hierarchy. In my opinion besides God being the Holiest of us all there is still a level of who is more important in the grand stand of things. I love the part of The Faith of The Seven because it reminds me of the seven deadly sins. Now although in the church’s moral law there is still darkness or an obsession in each person portratying their best selves of God. Anyone can act in anyway based on their internal beings but how we address them is what seperates us all.

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  2. I find it very interesting that you guys used not only the Seven, but the Faith Militant as an extension of such. This shows how religion can be taken too far in some cases, and the parallels are on point. The images you guys use are also great, as they add some humor to an otherwise grim subject.

    By mentioning the nature of the Sparrow as being kind to those he sees fit and cruel to his enemies, I think you guys did well at demonstrating the duality of this faith (Calvinism, I mean.) In the GoT series, there is another servant to the Seven, who doesn’t shame, but rather allows quiet repentance (pun not intended, as they take vows of silence, to my recalling). This kind of reminded me of that.

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    1. I second that! I think your use of the Faith Militant is a key part of the Seven, and shouldn’t be ignored. I like that you took this head-on in your post, as well as the comparison to Catholicism and not just Puritanism!

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  3. As a dedicated viewer of the show, I have to say you guys nailed this! You made an excellent point in comparing the The Faith of the Seven and Faith Militant with Protestants and Calvinists by objectifying their essential goal in their faith by using “fear to corral their followers into order under the pretense of spiritual submission”. Though i personally route for The Lord of Light as an equal comparison to Protestantism, I thought it was very interesting how you compared the physical features of the religion such as the house of worship and the key components of each group’s leader that make me want to side with you guys and say that The Faith of the Seven is the most similar to the Protestants.

    Also, I couldn’t stop laughing at Family Guy’s parody of the “Shame Scene”!! Good choice 🙂

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  4. I love how you guys took two religions, and looked at the extremist views of them. We all know that all religions usually have a group of people that maybe go too far, or don’t bend when it comes to the rules of their religion. It was nice too see this parallel drawn between Calvinism (which exists in the our world) and The Faith Militant group (which exists in the world of Game of Thrones, a television show). The comparison of The Faith of The Seven to the Roman Catholic Church was great (focusing on the “single supreme entity”). I also think your use of media, pictures and a video clip (which I thought was such a great idea to include, not only because I’m a Family Guy fan, but because it showed the shame that was casted on people in such a public manner as means to set an example for the rest of the population) tied everything together. Great work guys!

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  5. I REALLY enjoyed reading this post. I enjoyed the amount of details about the Puritans AND the religion. It was very well written– a lot of knowledge is shown here. The connection to the Game Of Thrones was well done as well.

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  6. Thanks for stealing our title! Just kidding. This was a thoroughly enjoyable post. I love that you chose to focus on the faith militant because it encapsulates everything about puritanism and it’s harsh yet seemingly loving nature. I love also that you broached on the fact that the community itself would police one another to ensure that everyone remained within the favor of the gods. Also, the fact that the seven aspects of a single god make up the same idea of the three aspects of the judeo-christian God. Overall you touched on every single main point that I would have came up with. I love that you brought in some of the most important quotes such as the one from Margaery when she reveals that she has always pretended to be better than she is. Also, lastly I love the family guy reference. Game of Thrones has become such a huge influencer of pop culture and you could see it spreading its influence in so many places, and I love that you added that bit of humor to lighten the mood after all the shame! shame! shame! Really an enjoyable post, great job guys!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed reading this post because I like how connects are draw from actual TV shows and how dissimilarities are considered. I also noticed a brief difference between the New England Puritans and the Faith Militants: the militants are formed in an army like way. This catches my eye because they are self-abnegation is very powerful and important to them and the leader. Furthermore, I feel like today’s society submissively regulates itself that way, not religiously (that I know of), but government wise. I feel like today leaders will tell us to jump and we will say ‘how high?’ I see that self-abnegation in both religious; yet, the militants practice this as a semi-army.

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  8. Your comparison of the Faith of the Seven to the Catholic Church and the Sparrows stemming from the Faith of the Seven as the Protestants did from Catholicism is spot on! It’s quite interesting also, that the Faith of he Seven’s seven gods are like the Trinity in Catholicism. You explained this really clearly and well. The pictures and hyperlinks you use make the post engaging and very interesting. I was able to read up on The Faith Militant Rising, which I didn’t know anything about. Also, the video at the end was a nice touch, especially for the modern audience in which you were writing for. Really great, strong work!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like your comparison of control through fear of the faith of the seven to the Protestants. The joke at the end of the post the parody does a good job establishing that these walks of shame and public executions have nothing to do with redemption or gods work. Rather these public punishments of sinners serve one purpose cementing the power of the church. The church is the most powerful entity in both game of thrones and in the puritans and nobody is allowed to go against the power of the church officials.

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