Saturday, May 10, 2014


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
The religion of Jesus is the religion of life not death, of forgiveness not retribution, of self annihilation not self righteousness. When Blake looked around himself he saw that man was not the glorious creation he was intended to be, but shrunken and helpless against the powers that limited his development. Jesus had opened the minds and spirits of men to the path of recreating themselves through inner renovation. But the forces of the world closed the gates which led to eternal life by perpetuating oppressive institutions for the benefit of entrenched power. 

In our age the message of Jesus would be the same. As Blake says he would send those who had seen and heard and understood into the world of those who were afflicted by the ills that the rulers of this world inflict on the helpless. The object is to gain release from the mental prisons which cause the simple to react through anger, violence, depression, doubt, and self-hatred.

What solutions does our society have to offer to those who feel lost and abandoned, whose every effort must be devoted to providing basic necessities, who turn to mind altering drugs to escape their depression and doubt, who project their self-hatred in violence and abuse toward others? We offer them what the underprivileged were offered in Blake's day: poor paying jobs, incarceration, exclusion from the churches and schools and medical care which serve the wealthy, ready access to the drugs which condemn them to destitution and mental disease.

Blake assumed the role of the prophet. He saw that the message of Jesus had been buried or distorted or institutionalized. He expressed the wrath and pity he felt because Jesus was not followed. Blake wanted to show as clearly as he could that man could gain release from his prison once he knew what manacles his own mind had forged. 

Jerusalem, PLATE 77, (E 232)                           
                      "To the Christians. 
 I stood among my valleys of the south
And saw a flame of fire, even as a Wheel
Of fire surrounding all the heavens: it went
From west to east against the current of
Creation and devourd all things in its loud                      
Fury & thundering course round heaven & earth
By it the Sun was rolld into an orb:
By it the Moon faded into a globe,
Travelling thro the night: for from its dire
And restless fury, Man himself shrunk up           
Into a little root a fathom long.
And I asked a Watcher & a Holy-One
Its Name? he answerd. It is the Wheel of Religion
I wept & said. Is this the law of Jesus
This terrible devouring sword turning every way    
He answerd; Jesus died because he strove
Against the current of this Wheel: its Name
Is Caiaphas, the dark Preacher of Death
Of sin, of sorrow, & of punishment;
Opposing Nature! It is Natural Religion            
But Jesus is the bright Preacher of Life
Creating Nature from this fiery Law,
By self-denial & forgiveness of Sin.

Go therefore, cast out devils in Christs name
Heal thou the sick of spiritual disease           
Pity the evil, for thou art not sent
To smite with terror & with punishments
Those that are sick, like the Pharisees
Crucifying &,encompassing sea & land
For proselytes to tyranny & wrath,                
But to the Publicans & Harlots go!
Teach them True Happiness, but let no curse
Go forth out of thy mouth to blight their peace
For Hell is opend to heaven; thine eyes beheld
The dungeons burst & the Prisoners set free."    

Matthew 10
[5] These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans,
[6] but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
[7] And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
[8] Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.

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