c. David Grim
I just finished reading "The Wordy Shipmates" by Sarah Vowell. I had read a couple of her books, and I knew enough to expect her to inject her own personal tangents into the story of the religious squabbles of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Sure she's full of herself, but I suppose this tale would likely be fairly dry in less capable hands.
So I got through it pretty quickly despite my reservations about the rather superficial treatment that Vowell lent the subject. I learned stuff I didn't know about 17th century figures like John Winthrop, Anne Hutchinson, and Roger Williams. For instance I never realized that Williams (the founder of Rhode Island after he was banished from Massachusetts) was actually an early proponent of the separation of church and state. I vaguely knew that he encouraged eccentric oddballs to settle alongside him, but I didn't know that he was ready to defend a citizen's right to atheism.
As far as Hutchinson is concerned- I had heard of her but I couldn't have told you anything about what she stood for. And apparently what she believed was very radical for her milieu. She believed in personal revelation. In other words, she honestly thought that God was speaking to her and through her. This was a dangerous challenge to the authoritarian structure of the early Protestant church leaders in New England.
I'm not particularly religious, but I find myself drawn to the belief that one's God actually dwells within. Why bother with it otherwise if it's not that personal? What good is a god that require human translation?