Sunday, October 15

A quote from Emerson

I came across this speech by Ralph Waldo Emerson from 1838, and while it's too late tonight to slog through the whole thing, I loved this excerpt:

Jesus Christ belonged to the true race of prophets. He saw with open eye the mystery of the soul. Drawn by its severe harmony, ravished with its beauty, he lived in it, and had his being there. Alone in all history, he estimated the greatness of man. One man was true to what is in you and me. He saw that God incarnates himself in man, and evermore goes forth anew to take possession of his world. He said, in this jubilee of sublime emotion, `I am divine. Through me, God acts; through me, speaks. Would you see God, see me; or, see thee, when thou also thinkest as I now think.' But what a distortion did his doctrine and memory suffer in the same, in the next, and the following ages! There is no doctrine of the Reason which will bear to be taught by the Understanding. The understanding caught this high chant from the poet's lips, and said, in the next age, `This was Jehovah come down out of heaven. I will kill you, if you say he was a man.' The idioms of his language, and the figures of his rhetoric, have usurped the place of his truth; and churches are not built on his principles, but on his tropes. ...

Let me admonish you, first of all, to go alone; to refuse the good models, even those which are sacred in the imagination of men, and dare to love God without mediator or veil.

Shorter Emerson: Yo. Jesus wasn't God, wasn't saying he was God. He was just high on being, for all of us. And the church fucked. it. up. big time, primarily to suit their own sense of self perpetuation. Screw "The Church" and start over.

Emerson was one radical dude. But it's okay to just take my word for it. I'll get some real panties up tomorrow.


  1. not to mention that jesus wasn't a conservative. nope. the conservatives just really want to believe he was. hate to tell them to actually read the damned bible- but hey.

  2. Anonymous11:52 PM

    Jesus talks about social and economic justice many, many times, and bashes the religious authorities as hypocrites, but really only talks about sexual morality once, and then to denounce the hypocrisy of the lynch mob that has gathered to stone the "adulterous" woman. He never mentions the estate tax, gay marriage, or abortion. Now, given that the Bible says that Jesus did and said lots of things that aren't transcribed therein, can we not assume that what IS in the Bible, written down by the divinely-inspired authors of the Gospels, is the most important? So what does that tell us?

  3. this pretty much sums it up for me.

    Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.


  4. boy, your lack of results with Googling Ralph Waldo Emerson panties definitely shows Google shouldn't get complacent. I'm looking at my copy of the Library of America complete edition of the Sage of Panties'(as he was known in the day..) Essays and Lectures, because I'm pretty certain he wrote extensively on this subject. Or not.

  5. And for the sake of some of the UUs in the house, I mention that nowhere did Mr. Emerson say that it was okay to hate other people happen to believe that Mr. of Nazareth was in fact Mr. Christ.

    I don't think he was the son of G_d but that doesn't give me the right to put down those people who do.

    Just don't use Jesus to justify your own moral agenda, k?

  6. Wow. Emerson, Jesus, and underwear, all in one post.

    Only Blue Gal could pull that together.

  7. Thanks for the nice piece. Emerson's sentiments are good ones. In fact if our country started to have a culture where the arts, particularly poetry, was lauded as a great goal in life....rather than the most expedient way to make the most money, perhaps we could indeed see some improvements that we'd all like.

    As for Comrade Kevin's comments against the UUs in the house. I don't know where that came from. I grew up as a UU and if anyone would be 'using Jesus to justify a moral agenda', it would NOT be the UU.


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