James Silk Buckingham - 1660, New England, American Colonies - Aerial phenomena to the rescue of Puritanism
Type of Spiritual Experience
Please note that the observation was not by or about Winthrop, but the observation itself has great relevance in the context of the Winthrop entry
A description of the experience
quoted in Wonders In The Sky - Unexplained Aerial Objects From Antiquity To Modern Times - and Their Impact on Human Culture, History, and Beliefs - Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck
Some remarkable phenomena having appeared in the air, one of which is described as "resembling the form of a spear, of which the point was directed towards the setting sun, and which, with slow majestic motion, descended through the upper regions of the air, and gradually disappeared beneath the horizon," (note: possibly the zodiacal light) the magistrates and clergy availed themselves of the deep impression which these signs created, to promote a general reformation of manners among the people.
For this purpose, they published a catalogue of the principal vices of the times, in which were enumerated "a neglect of the education of children, pride displayed in the manner of cutting and curling the hair, excess of finery, immodesty of apparel, negligent carriage at church, failure in due respect to parents, profane swearing, idleness, and frequenting of taverns, and a sordid eagerness of shopkeepers to obtain high prices."
Source: James Silk Buckingham, America, historical statistic, and descriptive (London: Fisher, Son & co., 1841), 259.