The Journey to the Mayflower: God’s Outlaws and the Invention of Freedom

Stephen Tomkins
ISBN: 978-1473649101
Hodder and Stoughton 2020
Hardback 384 pp £20.00 
Pastoral Review bookshop £18.00 

Until comparatively recently Catholics in England and Wales were given in Catholic schools a thorough grounding in the sufferings of our forebears in penal times, ‘of dungeon, fire and sword’. This historical narrative has helped to shape the community, even if we probably reflect on it less than in the past; part of the reason for this is ecumenical sensitivity, a gut feeling that dwelling too much on the wounds of the past can impair their healing. The other side of this coin is that those born and bred as Catholics have not been taught very much about the sufferings in the Reformation period and afterwards of other Christians, whom in the past we would have been taught were ‘heretics’; the implication was that in contrast to the glorious martyrdom and heavenly triumph of Catholics, the Protestants killed in the reign of Queen Mary perhaps in some way deserved their fate.  

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