Sunday, July 29, 2012

Faith II

       Every child begins in eternity. Jesus said, "Except you become as little children...." 
Blake knew this better than anyone since Jesus, maybe anyone since Francis. 
He knew it because by a providential dispensation of grace the child in Blake remained alive throughout his life. 

At the age of 34 he wrote those beautiful 'Songs of Innocence', his "happy songs Every child may joy to hear". 'Songs of Innocence' hooked a great many people on Blake originally: transparent goodness transcribed into black type on white paper--somewhat beyond Locke's tabula rasa.

       If life were only like that. If Blake were only like that, he'd have an assured place as one of England's best loved poets, a beloved impractical idealist and a threat to no one. But in 'Songs of Experience' he began to express a more complex reality. 

The Marriage of Heaven and Earth 'represents a healthy beginning in working out the complexities. They have to be worked out, every minute particular in the corrosive burning flame of thought, etching away the surfaces, getting down to bedrock. 

Most of us have refused Blake and his Eternal because we don't want to be bothered with reality; we don't want to take the trouble. We're content with the little sub-realities that inform our lives and values, the simple half truths and prejudices which we call the real world.

       Blake wrote, etched, painted, sang his visions of Eternity throughout a long life time. This chapter systematizes his visions as they address and relate to the general constructs of Christian theology. That enterprise of course violates the spirit of his creative genius, which refused systematization. Nevertheless we systematize in the hope that a coherent picture of his faith may emerge and lead the faithful reader to an encounter with the original, organized in Blake's own inimitable style.

"that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them
and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one."
(John 17)
"Jesus is the only God, and so am I and so are you.
(Blake)
      The theologues of the forties and fifties learned from Paul Tillich that everyone has an ultimate concern, his God. People in Alcoholics Anonymous have told some of their theologically confused members that, lacking any better God, they may worship a 'pot on the mantle', anything at all to break that devotion to the bottle which is actually the worship of a lower form of the self. To remain sober one must believe in a Higher Power of some sort.
      The important thing is that one's Higher Power be not a projection of some lower form of self; that's idolatry. The person seriously interested in ultimate reality engages in a life long search for the most real image he can discover, the image of his God. A person's best image of God nurtures his spirit as he goes through life.
      The Bible contains a multiplicity of images of God. For example we read about the finger of God, the nostrils of God, even the backside of God. All his life Blake maintained a high level of respect for the Bible as vision. Nevertheless he refused to worship other men's visions of God: "I (you!) must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's (Jerusalem, 10.20; E153)". He's saying that we have a choice to adhere to the conventions (whatever conventions may be for us) or to create our own values from our own experience. Blake did this for a lifetime, creating his own myth of meaning, and with his creative works he expressed it over and over again.

2 comments:

Vincent said...

A wonderful little essay!

Larry said...

Thanks, ole buddy.