The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Romanticism and Religion

I’ve been reading Roland Hein’s book The Harmony Within, a study of GMac’s ‘vision.’ Heins provides a list of recommended secondary sources and I recognized one name - Stephen Prickett - and found a used hardback of his “Romanticism and Religion” for a few bucks and have been reading that as well.
The book (R&R) is an interesting study of GMac and some of his peers - Coleridge, Wordsworth, Longfellow, Maurice, Keble and a number of others. If you are into the literature and theology of their times (the Victorian Age, more or less) you will find this to be a stimulating read.
“The idea of poetic ‘creativity’ developed by Coleridge, Wordsworth and their successors in Victorian England, which is usually seen in aesthetic terms, was in fact a re-discovery and a re-application of a much older Judeo-Christian way of thinking about religious experience.…the result in early nineteenth-century England was that the elusive and yet clearly recognisable phenomenon, a ‘change in sensibility’, which makes the period characteristically different from all that had gone into shaping it.
We call that change in sensibility, loosely enough, ‘Romanticism’…the ambiguity of human experience: a sense of the continuing co-existence and conflict of the natural and secular ‘outer’ world with the ‘inner’ world of religious experience, sacred and felt as super-natural.” page 7. My emphasis.

Gmac and others have brought to life that sensibility which imo is drastically lacking in our current worldview; that lack leads to short-sightedness, the reduction of reality from its fulness, and other things.

Still reading.
Coleridge : “…we need not suppose, that the Hebrew Nation set to work a coldblooded carpentry of Terrors like the Bard or the Vision of Judgment. In those times and in that country men reasoned with the organ of Imagination, and vivid Images supplied the place of words, and came more readily than words in language so limited and scanty as the Hebrew.”

Prickett’s comments on the above: “In other words, if the divine power of scripture is to be allowed to speak to men, the Bible must be set neither outside the canons of historical scholarship, nor those of literary criticism, for these are the very MEANS by which it speaks. The Bible is impoverished if it is held to be literally inspired, because such a concentration on the individual words denies the life and unity of the whole, which is organically greater than the parts, and leads to a myopic concentration on tiny fragments unrelated to their context. It is, on the contrary, immeasurably enriched if we see it as a work of the Imagination, in which the various strands, historical, symbolic, and moral, take their place within a single artistic work.”

Yeah, provocative. There appear to be things going on in that Era that we have lost sight of, to our detriment. GMac helps us to recover some of that richness.

I"m just finishing the chapter on Wordworth. GMac was a big fan.
Here is a selection from ‘Tintern Abbey’ by Wordsworth; very illustrative of many themes in his work.

"For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.—And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

GMac called WW a “Christian Pantheist” :open_mouth: approvingly.
Both men envisioned a Christianity that affected the whole man, feelings and intellect. Both men felt the power of Nature; not a naturalism that was basically an inventory of nature, but a living involvement that called forth sensibilities in man that could not be called forth in any other manner. I think of all the kids spending their hours playing violent computer games - missing out of one of the Father’s greatest expressions.

Well I just found this in GMac’s ‘A Dish of Orts’ (from the complete works, available for free online):

Comments are welcomed, by the way :slight_smile:

Children playing violent video games? I guess C.S. Lewis shouldn’t have written the Chronicles of Narnia because of the violence the children and the lion Aslan do against evil creatures when they battle in the stories.

The psychologist Jordan Peterson explains on why being harmless isn’t virtuous. The virtuous person is a controlled monster.

The hero has to be a monster. But a controlled monster. Batman was like that. If your harmless you’re not virtuous. ~~ Psychologist Jordan Peterson

Be caring and compassionate but summon the monster within when you need to. Don’t be harmless.

Oh don’t be silly.
I may listen to Peterson and try to figure out what he’s saying, though.

You cannot be a good person until you know how much evil you contain within you. ~~ Jordan Peterson

We’re a Long way from the thread’s subject Romanticism and Religion, though. :anguished:

Something from today’s Motus Mentis:
" > Focusing on science misses an important historical fact. The Enlightenment ended around 1800, and it was replaced by the Romantic Era. Modern science is a product of the Enlightenment, as is the US Constitution, but the Romantics explicitly rejected reason, science, objectivity for intuition, emotion and submersion in an oceanic experience.

Socialism is a product of Romanticism, and it is the dominant socio-political movement today. Some academics argue that Romanticism has been replaced by Modernism or even Post-Modernism, but listen to the rants of the modern-day youth. There is no trace of Enlightenment there, mere wallowing in emotion and feeling.

But Romanticism cannot be a path back to any sort of Christianity. The Enlightenment and its child Science have irreparably killed off religion. Mere wallowing is all that is possible until this civilization ends."