In a recent post Amgaither continued the debate on this blog about whether the witch trials and evangelical great awakening have a cause and effect relation. She believed that the two events did not have a cause and effect relationship which I believe to be incorrect. She makes the point that both the Great Awakening and the witch trials happened in the same place merely because the conditions there were ripe for both of these events. But I believe there is more to it than that, and that the witch trials and the evangelical preaching of the time period both had more influence over other because they were going on around the same time period.
I found the most interesting of the witchcraft articles to be the one written by Elizabeth Reis because I felt like it dealt with the relationship between the witch trial and the Great Awakening very well. Reis mentioned at one point that “Ministers spoke of the devil’s proximity in their weekly sermons and they articulated the notion that his presence was ubiquitous.” I think this is an accurate way to describe how the Great Awakening helped the witch craze to reach even greater heights. People lived in fear of the devil and his control because much of the Great Awakening dealt with the devil and how he was out to get people. Pastors and religious leaders were trying to scare people into becoming better Christians. Although this did lead to more devout religious practices in many cases it also led to a heightened “awareness” of the devil. Taylor mentioned that how ministers tried to “shock their listeners” and it worked. It shocked them so much they began seeing the devil where it didn’t really exist.
In chapter 15 Taylor discusses in great detail the evangelical awakening that occurred early in the 18th century. This time of religious renewal, marked by a fire and brimstone type of preaching, was called the Great Awakening. The effect that the Great Awakening had on the witch craze wasn’t a one way street. It was more of a cycle in which as the heightened fear of the devil grew people began to see witches everywhere, which in turn led to more fear of the devil. Taylor did a good job of using quotes from people in this time period to show how intense the sermons were at that time. People were legitimately very scared of hell and so it influenced their every day activities. I think without each other the Great Awakening and the witch craze would not have been as important as they were.