Warriors, Longhairs, Quakers, and Roundheads! (Part 2)
The Quaker and The Roundhead
By Ben Stone
In the first part of this series I wrote about warriors and longhairs and a possible explanation for the way some people in modern society react to a man with facial hair and/or long cranial hair. In this part I want to give a bit of background information and perhaps offer another explanation why many adults in western society are uncomfortable with the hairy man. In addition, I want to make the case that the adoption of “Puritan Values” was a near deathblow to individual liberty in western culture. And until a cultural shift away from key aspects of Puritan Values takes place individual liberty cannot develop to its maturity. To do this it will be necessary to explain some theological points as well as covering some historical information. But fear not my reader! I will make every effort to make this neither a “church meeting” nor a “history lesson” as I have little tolerance for either.
First lets look at the words Quaker and Roundhead. Both seem a bit odd to us today because they were 1640 England’s versions of insults and slurs. That’s sad if you think about it. How much street cred could a people have if the best insult they can come up with is to call someone a roundhead? It seems that would be slapped down by, “Better than you blockhead!”
The Roundheads were actually Puritans, and the reason Quakers insulted them by calling them Roundheads was because they “unnaturally rounded” their heads by cutting their hair and shaving their faces. Imagine the outline of a man’s head with full cranial hair while sporting a beard and/or a mustache. Now imagine that same outline after uniformly cutting all of the cranial hair to about a half-inch and shaving the face. The effect is a rounding of the bottom half of the head. A local judge mocked the Society of Friends and called them Quakers because “They bid us tremble at the word of God” and the Puritans quickly latched onto that insult, I suppose having none better.
The heart of the conflict had nothing to do with the Quaker’s love for traditional hairstyles or the Puritan’s rejection of Quaker reverence for God. The problem was in the fundamentally different way the two groups saw their role on Earth as Christians.
The Roundheads were compelled to spread their version of Christianity and its rules of behavior and dress, at any cost. Because of a twisted view of “Predestination” or what they called “The Elect” they saw themselves as crusaders destined to conquer the world for Christ. Anyone who was not a Puritan and refused to accept Puritanism was not loved by God and fell into an inferior classification of humans. In addition to this fanatical view of at-any-cost-evangelism, and an inflated view of themselves on the stage of history, they believed the State was the primary tool of Christian conquest. Therefore developing and expanding the State was a prime goal and anyone who stood in their way or refused to conform to their views was the enemy of God.
In contrast, the Quaker viewed all people alike. Men, women, children, Christians, and non-Christians were the children of God and equal in God’s sight. No one person had any Divine advantages. God loved the heathen slave just as much as the nobleman, the king, or the impressive clergy with his imaginative hat and robes. When you hold a view like this it becomes hard to justify the existence of a State completely dependent upon one group of people dominating another. It also eliminates the possibility of forcing anyone to conform to your doctrines. But more important, it eliminates the possibility of someone convincing you they know God’s will and that you must conform to them.
This philosophical conflict manifested itself in several dramatic ways. In England the Quakers refused to participate in Roundhead wars to capture and dominate the British Isles. In the American colonies the Quakers didn’t mind the Puritans having their churches, governors, and sheriffs but refused to pay taxes to support them and refused to obey them. The Roundheads passed laws mandating church taxes, church attendance, and the swearing of obedience oaths to the governor but the Quakers ignored them. The Roundheads reacted in a variety of ways that ended up in violence, beatings, theft, and public executions. The Quakers held peaceful protests and appealed their case through logical pamphlets and street discussions but the Puritan response was an increase in violence. More arrests, more public beatings and executions by hanging and burning became common. So much so that some of the southern colonies actually passed anti-Puritan laws to keep these violent do-gooders and busybodies in the north. Not that the southerners had any love for Quakers, with their talk of equality and rights, but at least the Quakers were peaceful. So the Puritans did stay in the north and found a kind of success Cromwell and his army of Roundheads never could have dreamed of.
Eventually American Culture shifted to accept a compromise of the two philosophies and in ways it seemed the Quakers had won the debate. The concept of equality was given lip service in the founding documents of The United States government, and an active anti-slavery movement began, reflecting the Quaker influence. Also less and less Christians identified themselves as “Puritan”, as the name became associated with dominating society and regulating every aspect of behavior. But the Roundheads did not disappear. They did what evil has always done; they changed terminology and repainted themselves to resemble their enemy. They became “Yankees” and they spread into a variety of Christian denominations. They abandoned their pro-slavery position and took over the anti-slavery movement. They invaded the women’s rights movement and shifted its focus to fight evil demon liquor. By the mid-1800’s they had changed the official story of America and rewrote themselves as the founders and heroes, and by 1900 they controlled the government, most of the media and publishing houses, and the education process in America. They literally made up the history they wanted and taught it to American children. Seemingly the Quakers lost. The founding documents of the US truly meant nothing as America charged headlong into a century of unnecessary wars, prohibitions, taxation, State dominance, and an empire beyond the imagination of Cromwell.
At that moment in time it could have been said, “Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.”
The faithful reader who has followed this tail should now be noticing that the story wandered away from the shape of the male head and hairstyles. Oddly, around 1900 the popular style for a man was to have hair just over the ears and long sideburns with a mustache. What we would think of as the barbershop quartet look. But in 1917 that dramatically changed. The US government used its inscription powers and every young man in America was either shaved and shorn or looked upon as a coward and an enemy of the State. The draft was here and every “good” man was a part of it. Young men looked “smart” with their shorn heads and their sharp uniforms. “Clean cut” was the only acceptable way to present yourself to your lady, and the newly formed marriage of corporation and government threw its weight into convincing a generation that the “modern” look was the only socially acceptable look. Modern meaning Roundhead!
Then, for a brief whisper in time, males in America had a memory flash and somehow connected the evils of the draft with the look of the Roundheads, but it was fleeting and didn’t last. Somehow the State convinced us that wave of independent thinking was simply a drug induced haze. But it actually indicated that deep inside we all know we weren’t designed to look alike. Deep inside we know we are not all the same and we don’t want to look the same. This scares some people who just want to be part of a herd. They don’t care about being free as long as the line at the coffee boutique doesn’t cause them to miss their nightly escape into the world they watch on their wide screen television. That magic box that tells them how to dress, how to talk, how we are to interact, and how we can trust our wise leaders. Yes, that box that teaches us the Puritan Values that the State wants us to uphold. You see, the Puritans never actually cared about any single issue, they only cared about being in total control. And if you look different, well clearly they don’t have enough control.