On this date in 1838, Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered a commencement address to the Harvard Divinity School (books by this author). Emerson had graduated from Harvard Divinity in 1826. Before he graduated, he had given a lecture called “The American Scholar” to the Harvard Phi Beta Kappa society, in which he spoke of his philosophy of transcendentalism. The speech was published that same year. It made Emerson famous, and it brought the ideas of transcendentalism to young men like Henry David Thoreau.
Emerson had been a Unitarian minister, but he had resigned and was becoming very critical of the current practice of Christianity, which he made clear in this commencement address. He said: “The true Christianity — a faith like Christ’s in the infinitude of man — is lost.” Many in the audience were incensed by Emerson’s speech, particularly the older faculty and ministers. It was 30 years before Emerson was invited back to speak at Harvard.
Islam’s holiest month of fasting during days,
broken by iftar community dinners after sunset
and prayers. One Hafiz who has memorized
the Quran recites a segment to all.
Sighting the crescent moon begins the month.
Isis breastfeeding Horus. Mary and baby Jesus.
Mothering Day off from work and fasting.
A mothers day after a Civil War.
The second Sunday of May for all,
but today I celebrate only two, gone.
illustration from Stephen Greenblatt’s piece in The New Yorker about Lucretius
this twenty-first century morning makes me
a Roman meditating a thousand years ago
On the Nature of Things, a universe
It was on this day in 1791 that Vermont became a state. It was the 14th state to join the Union — the first aside from the original 13 colonies.
It vies with New Hampshire for being the least religious state in the union.
Only half of Vermonters say they believe in God, compared with about 70 percent of the rest of the nation. People there attend weekly services at a much lower rate than other Americans, and a much smaller percentage say that religion is important to them.
Vermont also has a disproportionately high number of American converts to Buddhism and there are several Buddhist retreat centers through out the state.
It produces more maple syrup than any other state in America. I’m not sure if there’s a connection.
photo: Camel’s Hump, VT.
Do you sometimes feel the need to center yourself? If so, what does that mean?
It is a term I have…
The Helix Nebula, also known as The Eye of God
Since childhood, I have been a big radio fan.…
Aristotle: “A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand they do less easily move against him believing that he has the gods on his side.”
Seneca: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”
John Adams: “God is an essence we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of there will never be any liberal science in the world”
Thomas Jefferson: “The clergy believe that any power confided in me will be used in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly”
George H. Bush Sr. “I don’t know that atheists should be considered patriots, nor should they be considered citizens.”
James Buchanan: “I have seldom met an intelligent person whose views were not narrowed and distorted by religion”
William Henry Harrison: “We admit of no government by divine right….The only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed”
George Washington: “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle” “The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian Religion.”
Thomas Jefferson –”I do not find in Christianity one redeeming feature.”
Abraham Lincoln: “The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my religion.” “My earlier views on the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and human origin of the scriptures have become clearer and stronger with advancing years, and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them” (in Lincoln’s original letter to J. S. Wakefield)
George W. Bush: “The United States is a Christian nation founded upon Christian principles and beliefs.”
James Madison: “A just government has no need for the clergy or the church.”
John F. Kennedy: “I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end… where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice”
“Fear of things invisible in the natural seed of that which everyone in himself calleth religion. ” — Thomas Hobbes
“A perfect faith is nowhere to be found, so it follows that all of us are partly unbelievers.” ― John Calvin
Peanuts and theology
— Mahatma Gandhi
I take my Ghostbusters quite seriously…
Winston Zeddemore: Hey Ray. Do you believe in God?
Dr Ray Stantz: Never met him.
Winston Zeddemore: Yeah, well, I do. And I love Jesus’s style, you know… Hey Ray. Do you remember something in the bible about the last days when the dead would rise from the grave?
Dr Ray Stantz: I remember Revelations 7:12…?And I looked, and he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake. And the sun became as black as sack cloth, and the moon became as blood.”
Winston Zeddemore: “And the seas boiled and the skies fell.”
Dr Ray Stantz: Judgment day.
Winston Zeddemore: Judgment day.
Dr Ray Stantz: Every ancient religion has its own myth about the end of the world.
Winston Zeddemore: Myth? Ray, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason we’ve been so busy lately is ‘cause the dead HAVE been rising from the grave?
Dr Ray Stantz: [Pause ] How ‘bout a little music?
Winston Zeddemore: Yeah.
Calvin: You know, I don’t think math is a science. I think it’s a religion.
Hobbes: A religion?
Calvin: Yeah. All these equations are like miracles. You take two numbers and when you add them, they magically become one new number! No one can say how it happens. You either believe it or you don’t. This whole book is full of things that have to be accepted on faith! It’s a religion!
— Thomas Jefferson