Wednesday, December 30, 2009

William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All

I just finished reading William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All by Janet and Geoff Benge, and found this to be an excellent account of the life of William Penn and his work in establishing the Pennsylvania colonies. Penn had a remarkable life, filled with religious persecution, conflicts with his father, the English courts, and numerous struggles over establishing the Pennsylvania colonies, or "the holy experiment", as he referred to it.

The book chronicles Penn's life through his childhood in England, and describes how Penn, at a young age, was affected by hearing an influential Quaker minister speak. Penn himself becomes a Quaker during his lifetime, and experiences firsthand the harsh religious persecution that the Anglican government of England imposed (including unfair convictions, trials and imprisonments.)

Later Penn is given a providentially amazing opportunity to establish the Pennsylvania colonies, and his aim was to establish this land as one of liberty, fairness, and religious freedom. It's a remarkable story and can be a real page-turner during some of the momentous times of Penn's life.

However, William Penn's life wasn't without its troubles. Beyond just the religious persecution that Penn experienced as a Quaker, his family also saw the loss of a number of their own children and, potentially most devastating, was the account of Penn's oldest son who (perhaps from having his father absent so much due to persecution or working on Pennsylvania) turned in much different direction of alcohol addiction and gambling. In fact, the book doesn't go much further into what happened to Penn's son, but this serves as a tragic indicator that Penn, for all his remarkable contributions should have also keep his focus on shepherding his own family with the same level of dedication.

The life of William Penn was an amazing one, and his strong stand for religious freedom, both in England and in the Pennsylvania colonies, serve as an excellent example of a man faithful to God in his life efforts.

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