In doing some research for a class project a year or two after being thrown out of a church, I came across an interactive activity enacting the trials. I sat clicking through it, stunned. I had been familiar with the trials, but I had never thought of them as closely related to my life. But here in an interactive about a bit of 300 year old history, was a reenactment of my expulsion.
Are you a witch?
Why do you torture these people?
How do you know you’re not a witch?
We know you’re a witch!
How long have you been a witch?
Don’t deny it! Why won’t you confess?
How long have you been in the snare of the devil?
Why would you laugh? Don’t you see, you’re hurting these people?
You can’t expect peace without a confession!
You would sob, but it’s too much. You stood before your neighbors, your God and your judge and spoke the truth. They saw you, they heard you, and they jailed you.
Now, all of Salem, hungry for drama, seems to have squeezed inside the courthouse…
And on the story goes. Though it’s not precisely accurate, it’s not far from the real proceedings. http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/texts/tei/swp?div_id=n24
The interactive haunted me. For the first time after I’d been thrown out, I had found an incident that was very similar to my own. Here is basically my interaction with the man who threw me out:
I feel in my spirit–you aren’t right! You’re lusting after me.
Don’t argue with the man of God! I know you’re lusting after me, and you won’t destroy my ministry!
If you don’t get right, I’ll throw you out!
I don’t even know if you can be saved.
I knew someone was hindering revival!
You’re hindering revival! You need to repent!
He went on to tell me why he thought I was lusting. He had the spirit of discernment. He felt it in his spirit. I’d made him grab a folding chair I was sitting on and drag it around the room. I’d gone to the store at the same time he and his wife were there….
And so I identify with those tried as witches in Salem.
What happened in Salem, and why did the witch hunts and trials take place? Why were they allowed to go so far? Superstition, lack of knowledge or common sense, emphasis on the devil doing things to people, mass hysteria, toxins in the water or food, boredom, a fear of secret ‘sins’ being discovered, or guilt for those sins still hidden, the power of a few, the jealousy of others… there are many guesses as to what happened in Salem. I think it was a combination. And I think witch hunts still happen today.