Monday, March 22, 2010

Blake's Boehme

All religious bodies are cursed with dissensions, but some more or less than others. Unfortunately all too often they center around doctrine or polity. All such bodies in the course of time become tribes.

A priceless gem came from an ex-Catholic named Joseph Campbell to the effect that everyone belongs to some tribe: the smalll child to the family; students to their peer group; churches to their denomination; doctors to the AMA, etc. A primary characteristic of every tribe is that members are affirmed and others not. All good and pleasant things emanate from the tribe, all negative affect (from dislike to murder) to those outside the tribe. Joseph's dictum applies in some degree to all tribes: families, schools, locations, countries especially-- most especially our country: "America has the best of ......everything!!!" This is called provincialism.

Europe suffered a century of religious wars; with the Enlightenment some level of tolerance took the place of war, but religious controversy remained (even until today!)

Blake addressed this misfortune in Plate 23 of Milton:
"Remember how Calvin and Luther in fury premature sowed War and stern division between Papists and Protestants".

In early days Blake was exposed (like Wesley before him) to Moravian ecumenism and Behmenist mysticism. In a letter to Flaxman he showed that he considered Boehme one of his primary teachers:
"Now my lot in the Heavens is this, Milton lov'd me in
childhood & shew'd me his face. "Ezra came with Isaiah the Prophet, but Shakespeare in riper years gave me his hand;
Paracelsus & Behmen l appear' d to me, terrors appeared
in the Heavens above And in Hell beneath, & a mighty & awful change threatened the Earth."

Just try a sample of Boehme's works to see how closely the religious values and language were of Boehme and his disciple, William Blake.

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