Friday, October 23, 2009

common life teems with wonders...

Regular readers of this space know that James Freeman Clarke comes the closest to being the exemplar of the spirit or atmosphere of the Boston Unitarianism that I hope to promote. Conservatively transcendental, liberally Christian, truly accepting of difference, lover of common life lived well, Clarke was, to put it simply, a good man.
This description of one of his literary heroes, Goethe, could just as well apply to him (it comes from John Wesley Thomas' "James Freeman Clarke: Apostle of German Culture to America.

"He received in his cradle the happy birth-gift of an insatiate curiosity, and a firm belief in the significance of all things...he possesses a faith in the deeply marvelous character of the universe, which fits him for the companionship of Plato. There are no words which occur more frequently in his writings than those which express this feeling of the marvelous; such as 'Wunderlich,' Wunderbar," and so on...The chief advantage of studying his writings is, to see in them what a wealth of thought he could find under the surface of our everyday existence, and how to an earnest mind common life teems with wonders..."
(note: the painting is by Sally Dean. See her wonderful blog at

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