Salon today has a long, interesting interview with Neal Stephenson, whose new novel The Confusion was published earlier this month. The conversation features plenty of quotable bits, but this is probably my favorite:
Q: You're remarkably sympathetic to the Puritans, too, which is unusual these days.
A: I have a perverse weakness for past generations that are universally reviled today. The Victorians have a real bad name, and the word "Puritan" is never used except in a highly pejorative way, despite the fact that there are very strong Victorian and Puritan threads in our society today, and despite the fact that the Victorians and Puritans built the countries that we live in. The other one, by the way, is the '50s. Someday I'll have to write a '50s novel.
The reason why people are so vituperative about those generations is not because they know anything about the history, but because they're really talking about splits within our culture today that they're worried about.