Great Awakening Travel Journal-Prologue

If you follow this blog, you know the GSB team was planning a trip for this month to Italy and specifically the Milvian Bridge in Rome, where Emperor Constantine had his vision in 312 A.D and was converted to Christianity. We had planned the trip in 2020, but the pandemic spoiled those plans. This summer after being vaccinated and seeing infection rates dropping, we set our sites on Rome again. Then came the Delta Variant.

We considered what to do, but when our Christian tour guide in Rome emailed us that he had not been vaccinated (along with some explanation about why that didn’t matter), it confirmed what we were already feeling—no trip to Rome this year.

Not wanting to forgo a GSB study tour for the 2nd year in a row, we settled on a trip to New England to study the lives and sites of the Great Awakening. But even after deciding to go, the trip hung in the balance until last Friday. I did not want to go: I was much too busy at work, and I wasn’t convinced it was safe to travel, with the Covid cases spiking. So, with my strong inclination against going, I prayed, talked with The Wife, and we prayed some more, and we felt the Lord was saying, “Go.” So, with the benefit of our faith, mRNA technology, and cache of N95 masks, we departed today for Boston.

On this GSB study tour we will study the lives and places of the Great Awakening, the greatest spiritual revival America has ever experienced. Our journey will start in Boston with Cotton Mather, whose remarkable life laid a foundation for the revival that would follow, and we will journey across Massachusetts to Northampton, the home of Jonathan Edwards. There will also be a few interesting departures along the way, which you may want me to disclose at this time, but in response to which I will only provide a hint by saying, “I prefer not to.”

As those of you who are veterans of the GSB study tours are aware, there is usually a reading list that precedes our GSB study tours, and this tour is no different, except that I have included an advanced reading list as well. I have read, or am currently reading, the following books, all of which relate to the time period we will be studying on this tour:

Reading List

  • Cotton Mather, Kenneth Silverman
  • Jonathan Edwards, A Life, George Marsden
  • A Narrative of Surprising Conversions, Jonathan Edwards
  • George Whitfield, Arnold Ballimore
  • The Life and Diary of David Brainard, Jonathan Edwards 
  • The Great Awakening, Joseph Tracy
  • The Pox and the Covenant: Mather, Franklin, and the Epidemic that Changed America’s Destiny, Tony Williams
  • The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather, Rick Kennedy

Advanced Reading List 

  • Magnalia Christi Americana, Cotton Mather
  • The Life of Dr. Cotton Mather, Samuel Mather

We are off to New England! GS

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