Saturday, December 6, 2014

Noxious Exaggerations

Jesus Christ belonged to the true race of prophets. He saw with open eye the mystery of the soul. Drawn by its severe harmony, ravished with its beauty he lived in it, and had his being there. Alone in all history, he estimated the greatness of man. One man was true to what is in you and me. He saw that God incarnates himself in man, and evermore goes forth anew to take possession of his world. He said, in this jubilee of sublime emotion, ‘I am divine. Through me, God acts; through me, God speaks. Would you see God see me; or, see thee, when thou also thinkest as I now think.’

But what a distortion did his doctrine and memory suffer in the same, in the next, and the following ages! There is no doctrine of the Reason that will bear to be taught by the Understanding. The understanding caught this high chant from the poet’s lips and said in the next age, ‘This was Jehovah comedown out of heaven. I will kill you if you say he was a man.’ The idioms of his language, and the figures of his rhetoric, have usurped the place of his truth; and churches are not built on his principles, but on his tropes.

In thus contemplating Jesus, we become very sensible of the first defect of historical Christianity. Historical Christianity has fallen into the error that corrupts all attempts to communicate religion. As it appears to us and as it has appeared for ages, it is not the doctrine of the soul, but an exaggeration of the personal, the positive, the ritual. It has dwelt; it dwells, with noxious exaggeration about the person of Jesus. The soul knows no persons. It invites every man to expand to the full circle of the universe and will have no preferences, but those of spontaneous love.

Ralph Waldo Emerson the Boston minister, poet and essayist, wrote those thoughts in his controversial 1838 Divinity School Address. Emerson got down and dirty in that address. He talked about how an innate message is distorted by narrow-minded fanatics that want to control the ignorant. We are ignorant when it comes to understanding the nature of the soul and the consciousness within and around it. We worship falsehoods and allow ritualistic fantasies to control what we believe. For years, in the name of what is right, we have overpowered the weak and punish the awakened in order to prove we can follow instead of lead.

But we don’t call our noxious exaggerations of truth and complete lack of understanding, wrong. We call it blessed. We are blessed by the thoughts of a God who judges, condemns, retaliates and chooses how the God in us should act. No God who see himself as God would think the way we think of the God within us now.

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