I've been reading an interesting book about the Puritans "church" experience in New England in the 1600's. It's an eye opening account on multiple levels. At the most obvious level, it is fascinating to read about the risks that every day life entailed. But their muscular response to risk, and their determination to take risks to be part of a Christian assembly are painfully relevant and current to our moment. Here's a snippet from Sabbath in Puritan New England by Alice Morse Earle:
In 1640 it was ordered in Massachusetts that in every township the attendants at church should carry a “competent number of peeces, fixed and compleat with powder and shot and swords every Lords-day to the meeting-house;” one armed man from each household was then thought advisable and necessary for public safety. In 1642 six men with muskets and powder and shot were thought sufficient for protection for each church. In Connecticut similar mandates were issued, and as the orders were neglected “by divers persones,” a law was passed in 1643 that each offender should forfeit twelve pence for each offence. In 1644 a fourth part of the “trayned hand” was obliged to come armed each Sabbath, and the sentinels were ordered to keep their matches constantly lighted for use in their match-locks. They were also commanded to wear armor, which consisted of “coats basted with cotton-wool, and thus made defensive against Indian arrows.” In 1650 so much dread and fear were felt of Sunday attacks from the red men that the Sabbath-Day guard was doubled in number. In 1692, the Connecticut Legislature ordered one fifth of the soldiers in each town to come armed to each meeting, and that nowhere should be present as a guard at time of public worship fewer than eight soldiers and a sergeant. In Hadley the guard was allowed annually from the public treasury a pound of lead and a pound of powder to each soldier.
Their primary concern was the imminent possibility of attack by Indians. But a secondary concern was the aggressive wolves that populated the area. (They were more troubled by wolves than by bears which were also numerous and a problem from time to time.)
Lots of interesting things to ponder and some lessons to learn I think.