Thursday, January 07, 2010

Blake's God

Here we go again:
We start of course with the four year old who ran screaming to his mother after seeing an angry God in the window. This certainly suggests exposure to one of the angry preachers who (then and now) project their own misery onto the God they describe for their parishioners. It set for Blake the mode for 25 years of defiance for a God so destructive to the human psyche. Christians through the ages have repressed the anger they feel toward such a God. But Blake did not repress! He let it all out.

By the age of 33 in MHH he had learned to express complete skepticism re the God and the Church that directed the religious life of the multitude. In particular he saw it as a conspiracy of rogues (look again at Plate 11).

Now look again at Milton, plate 37:
"The Monstrous Churches of Beulah, the Gods of Ulro
Twelve monstrous dishumanizd terrors Synagogues of Satan.
A Double Twelve & Thrice Nine: such their divisions:"

Here Blake named twelve (prechristian) "Gods, the Twelve Spectre Sons of the Druid Albion " and twenty-seven "Heavens & their Churches" in three groups: the antediluvian ones, the Judaic ones, and the supposed Christian ones. So he's talking about fallen religion, where many of us attend every Sunday (that would be the church of Luther).

The religious denomination that goes by the name of 'Witnesses' would take great issue with the description that Blake made of Jehovah:

Jehovah was Urizen, even Satan, the Angel of the Divine Presence, the Gnostic demiurge who made a hash of his Creation. So much for that God. He was called everything but 'Loving'.

Blake mentioned Jehovah 64 times; here is a fairly representative

one from his notes on The Last Judgment:

" The Aged Figure with Wings having a writing tablet & taking
account of the numbers who arise is That Angel of the Divine
Presence mentiond in Exodus XIVc 19v & in other Places
this Angelis frequently calld by the Name of Jehovah Elohim The I am of the Oaks of Albion"

Jehovah was too often identified with condemnation:

In the Epilogue to Gates of Paradise we read:
" To The Accuser Who is
The God of This World
Truly My Satan thou art but a Dunce
And dost not know the Garment from the Man
Every Harlot was a Virgin once
Nor canst thou ever change Kate into Nan
Tho thou art Worshipd by the Names Divine
Of Jesus & Jehovah thou art still
The Son of Morn in weary Nights decline
The lost Travellers Dream under the Hill"

The most derogatory figure Blake used for authorities
such as King George or Jehovah is in Nobodaddy, a term
used again in an indelicate doggerel on Erdman 499.

Blake accurately portrayed the leading spirit of the Old Testament in the above discussion.

We come now to the gospel. Blake considered Jesus the only God. In his mind Jesus was largely about forgiveness; many examples of Blake's forgiveness (the forgiveness Jesus taught can be found throughout his poetry.) The most succinct one has
appeared in these posts before: the little unnamed poem
going by the name of My Spectre; here's the end of it:

"And Throughout all Eternity I forgive you; you forgive me.
As the dear Redeemer said, this the Wine and this the Bread."

If you want more on Blake and God, look at the
Spiritual Autobiography, Chapter Five.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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