Calvin in America
30 October 2020
In November 1620, the passengers and crew of the Mayflower reached the coast of Massachusetts and established a colony there. Among them were Puritan Reformists who had crossed the ocean to found a community in accordance with their aspirations, firmly rooted in Protestant and Calvinist values.
This was the founding moment for what was to become the United States of America, the future liberator, and the guardian of Europe in the twentieth and twenty-first century. The Constitution of the United States of America (1786) should also change Europe, including Switzerland in the year 1848.
It is lonesome at the top of the democratic world nowadays, however. This vulnerable democracy, including her brilliant Constitution, makes mistakes, but she took and takes her responsibilities, perhaps inspired by the Calvinist background.
The country is the most open democracy of the world, where everything, if not too much, comes out in the open, often by activists and mediocre journalists, (too) often arousing the sentiment and looking for sensation and their scoop and period of short fame.
The event in the International Museum of the Reformation (Musée international du Réformation) in Geneva, Switzerland, offers the possibility to cross the Atlantic in 1620 by a virtual reality experience. A 20-minute loop of various excerpts from famous films produced in North America introduces visitors to how religion permeates culture and has inspired great directors.
A rich collection of 60 documents, memorabilia, statistics, and objects evoke the religious and Protestant identity of the USA from 1620 to today. Famous World War II posters are presented in a sanctuary-like space to highlight the four founding freedoms of America: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
Nine pieces of music inspired by religion in America, from 1773 to today, are on display in the music room and include choir singing, ballads, blues, and jazz. (Source and further information: www.mir.ch).