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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.