Sunday, March 10, 2013





Thinking as I do that the Creator
of this world is a cruel being, and
being a worshipper of Christ, I have to
say: "the Son! oh how unlike the Father":
First God Almighty comes with a thump on
the head; then J.C. comes with a balm
to heal it.
(Comments on A Vision of the Last Judgment [Erdman 565])

To put it shortly the epigraph says it all. An esoteric alternative Protestantism nurtured Blake
as a child. But what he said above aptly expresses the feelings of enormous numbers of people
in our society today. "I don't care for the O.T. The N.T. suits me better": there is the understated
 strong consensus of many today, so extravagantly stated here by William Blake.

We might trace the development of 'God-thought' in the Thinker through the years of his spiritual

 The materialistic psychology dominant in Blake's age as well as our own portrays the real and the
imaginative as opposites. But in truth there are only images of reality; all reality is mental, that is,
mediated into consciousness by the mind. Our immediate experience is a chaos of sense perception
from which we all create our own visions of reality. Like Blake "[we] must create our own system or
be enslaved by another man's" Jerusalem plate 10, line 21). An authentic person consciously creates
his own vision of reality. He chooses to be who he is rather than to borrow his identity from a group
or from a charismatic figure.

Each person's ultimate reality is his God. There is no known objective God (the Russian cosmonauts
assured us of that many years ago); there are only images of God. Some of the outstanding images of
God that have shaped the life of the world came to us from Moses, Isaiah, Buddha, and Mohammid.
Finally we have the vision of Jesus, whom Christians consider to be an incarnation of God. But
perhaps equally influential upon the course of history have been the visions of Alexander, Napoleon,
and Stalin. Their common vision of the dominion of power is near the opposite pole from that of the
gentle Galilean.

Blake was a total and confirmed visionary, and he evisioned all of the images of God listed above
and quite a few others as well. He did this by pursuing his imaginative experience wherever it led.
The uncanny freedom with which he followed "the wind where it listeth" led him on a strange and
fascinating spiritual journey through some remarkable byways and paths, described in his poetry. At
the end of his pilgrimage he came to a definite vision of God as Jesus, the Forgiveness. After almost
two centuries it remains one of the highest and best visions of God that Christians have for their

Full understanding of Blake's vision of God depends upon a grasp of his concepts of time and
eternity. For Blake the eternal is the realm of the real, while time is the dimension of Plato's mortal 
cave of phantasmal dreams. Although the eternal is immortal, it does not refer simply to the
hereafter; that would be just a phantasmal portion of time stretched out indefinitely. The eternal is
the Mental, the Imaginative, the world to which a man may awaken as soon as he realizes that the
corporeal, temporal, materialistic framework of reality is an illusion.

The rationalists of Blake's day with their radical materialism had closed themselves off from the
eternal. They had imprisoned themselves in what he called the mundane egg (Milton plate 17 line
16ff). They were exclusively this worldly. Blake perceived that they worshipped the God of this 
World, no matter what they called him. They had most often called him Jehovah or Jesus. As a
young man Blake renamed him Urizen . He spent half a lifetime studying this God of the timebound
so he could cast him off and replace him with a more authentic image. Eventually he came to realize
that this god's truest name is Satan. He also referred to him as the Selfhood (Jerusalem 5:21-23) and
the Spectre.

Blake tells us that radical materialism with its worship of the God of this World is a state of mind
from which a man may awaken at any moment into a realization of the infinite and of his kinship
with the Divine Man, Jesus. So these two Gods, the Satan of the World and the Jesus of Eternity
remain in continuous opposition in men's minds, and they are best understood in contrast to one

Jesus is the Lord of the Eternal realm, which is imaginative, creative, non-violent, gracious, and
above all forgiving and uniting into life. Satan is God of this World, of power, might, law, man
against man, separation, finally death. One is Lord of Life, the other the Lord of Death. Satan is
actually not a person but a state and will eventually go to his own place, which is a way of saying
that Jesus will eventually get him off our backs. This happens at the Last Judgment when all Error is
burnt up.

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