Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blake's Faith - Introduction

This blog leads (hopefully to improvement of the website (and book) called Ramhorn'd with Gold. And this post will (hopefully) be inserted in the beginning of Chapter Four, entitled Faith.

I know few (if any) ordained ministers who 'have any time for' William Blake; yet he was such a religious man! He proposed an alternative to the sterile polity of the established church of his day (and also for ours, using the word 'established' in a very general sense.

Ordained ministers, generally speaking, represent what we have called here, the established church, be they Catholic priests or Pentecostal preachers. At best they must consider Blake's religious ideas a threat; hence they're most apt to studiously avoid them.

But a few Blakeans have found Blake's religious ideas creative, even life giving.
"Everything that lives is holy" (end of MHH). That represents Blake's faith in a nutshell.
There were no sinners in Blake's world (which should please Quakers). Like many Quakers Blake's God was an immanent one, not an old gentleman sitting on a throne in the sky. As Quakers say, there is that of God in you (and me, and Everyman.)

Blake was in essence a Christian Universalist, although he likely would have denied the term. he believed that Everyman would work through his errors (not sins) in the end (whatever the end might be).

All of this may lead one to understand why the very religious William Blake was so uniformly ignored by the clergy, and so enthusiastically accepted by many of the alternative culture. The 'flower children' of the sixties greeted Blake with joy (and perhaps unfortunately took up his sexual ideas too enthusiastically, leading to much suffering over the long haul).

You may want to move on at this point to Blake's Faith.


ellie said...

Don't forget Northrop Frye, an ordained minister, did more to foster understanding of Blake than anyone.

Susan J. said...

yikes! yikes! the vast majority of Quakers in the world most certainly know ourselves and humanity as sinners... although perhaps also sharing Blake's vision(s) and experience(s) of glimpsing life without sin... perfection, so to speak....

Susan J. said...

The traditional Quaker "that of God" was that which illuminates the dark corners of our being, bringing our sin to light.... and speaking to "that of God" in someone meant helping them face up their sin...

sorry to pick at the otherwise inspiring and inviting entry... I just recently finished reading the bio of Blake by Michael Bedard. Wonderful!! Thanks so much for suggesting it!

Susan J. said...

but maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by "in Blake's world"... maybe you mean in his world of visions and experience of the divine... a sort of parallel universe... I can see where Friends' experience also enters into such firsthand experience of "life beyond sin" so to speak... having been cleansed of sin... hard to put it to words, that's for sure...

Larry said...

Ellie, pointed taken. I wish there were a hundred Northrup Fryes. Actually like me he seems to have been less and less active in traditional church activities.

As a Quaker I am very parochial; our entire experience with Quakers in the last 25 years has been with FGC Quakers, most of whom simply feel uncomfortable when anyway touches on 'sinners'.
You're certainly right that most Quakers, world wide are evangelical.

Thanks to both of you for the corrections.

Larry said...

Susan, what we call sin Blake speaks of as errors. At the Last Judgement every error is wiped away.

ellie said...

As everyone may have gathered, Blake's concepts are nuanced. The idea of forgiveness is one of his primary interests. Does that imply an interest in sin? Probably not.
Error is his substitute for sin. But error is not the 'man' himself but the state which he is passing through.
Satan is the accuser, he imputes sin. (Blake may even say that it is the Satan within who names our own sins and others sins and God's sins)
"I forgive you, you forgive me
As the dear redeemer said,
This the wine and this the bread."
If sin is not imputed, it is wiped out. Giving and receiving forgiveness is everything: our wine and bread.

Susan J. said...

So.... I suppose Blake might say that we humans ought not accuse one another, or ourselves -- ought not impute sin, thereby joining forces with Satan... lots of food for thought there...

I came across an interesting Bible verse yesterday, where the Greek diabolos (in the plural) is generally translated as "slanderer" or "malicious talkers." 1 Tim 3:11.

If we hope to serve (be "deacons") we ought not be diaboloi - slanderers, accusers.

Thank you both *so* much.

Susan J. said...

Why do you suppose Blake and liberal Christians / Quakers prefer the word "error" to "sin"? It's hard for me not to hear "error" as something not one's fault, something for which one ought not be blamed or held responsible... is there more nuance to it, in your hearing?

ellie said...

I think the issue for Blake hinges on the consequences. The wages of sin is death or some think torture or eternal separation. Blake finds that incompatible with the merciful, forgiving God of Jesus.
The state of error (which includes Satan) is supposed to be temporary. It lasts until the individual can see it as error. Then it is annihilated for that individual although others may enter it.
It may be impossible to see this functioning in the material world because it is in the eternal world, (which is the only real world to Blake) that redemption and regeneration is continually taking place.

ellie said...

1 Timothy 3:11
NEB translates as 'undergo a scrutiny.'Reminds me of Job in the hands of Satan to be tested.

Larry said...

You're right! It's nobody's fault (i.e Dickens, Little Dorrit). Sin is a function of the Accuser (Satan) (the Selfhood); Blake's Last Judgment (personally) occurs when you recognize your error and correct it, which happens when you forgive.

Blake took forgiveness very seriously, as did the Good Lord; people constantly tried to get him to condemn sinners, but He always refused. He didn't know sin; He had no idea what it meant. We read somewhere that He lived without sin, which is say that he had overcome the satanic World.