I just got back from a vacation, during which I enjoyed revisiting Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. I found so many parallels to my own religious experience:
1. ON VIRTUE - Many believed that only fear of punishment would support human virtue (p. 45).
2. ON JOY - Hester (the adulteress) rejected most joys as sin (p. 70).
3. ON GUILT - Mr. Dimmesdale "attributed all his presentiments" to his own sin. In other words, he blamed his dislike and distrust for Hester's husband on his own guilt and shame, refusing to believe that the other truly harbored him any ill-will (p. 117).
3b. Hester tended to explain away (justify) the sins of others, or take the blame upon herself (blame for her daughter's wildness, her husband's consuming hate, her lover's self-destruction) (p. 140).
4. ON SELF-CONCEPT - Mr. Dimmesdale tended to view others as saintly, and himself as depraved. Hester too is continually self-denigrating, accepts and even encourages the holier-than-thou condescension of others as deserved.
5. ON REVELATION - There was a tendency for persons to find plenty of individualized revelations in nature (p. 128).
Good, thought-provoking stuff.