Tuesday, April 19, 2011

the "Gastric Sayings"...

Our Alliance holds a regular Book Discussion and tomorrow is my yearly contribution. It is one of my favorite things to do and I always look very much forward to it. This year A. Bronson and Louisa May Alcott are my subjects. They have a strong historical connection to our church and are just plain fascinating.
Bronson Alcott was not famous for clear expression and his "Orphic Sayings" published in the Dial and elsewhere, were often ridiculed. One Boston Newspaper compared them to “a train of fifteen railroad cars with one passenger," and another called them the "Gastric Sayings." Though it is not difficult to see why they received such a reception, it is not unrewarding to read and wrestle with them today. Here are a few...


There is neither void in nature, nor death in spirit,—all is vital, nothing Godless.  Both guilt in the soul and pain in the flesh, affirm the divine ubiquity in the all of being.  Shadow apes substance, privation fullness; and nature in atom and whole, in planet and firmament, is charged with the present Deity.


Impious faith! witless philosophy! prisoning God in the head, to gauge his volume or sound his depths, by admeasurements of brain.  Know, man of skulls! that the soul builds her statue perpetually from the dust, and, from within, the spiritual potter globes this golden bowl on which thy sacrilegious finger is laid.  Be wise, fool! and divine cerebral qualities from spiritual laws, and predict organizations from character.


Hope deifies man; it is the apotheosis of the soul; the prophecy and fulfilment of her destinies.  The nobler her aspirations, the sublimer her conceptions of the Godhead.  As the man, so his God: God is his idea of excellence; the complement of his own being.


All life is eternal; there is none other; and all unrest is but the struggle of the soul to reassure herself of her inborn immortality; to recover her lost intuition of the same, by reason of her descent amidst the lusts and worship of the idols of flesh and sense.  Her discomfort reveals her lapse from innocence; her loss of the divine presence and favor.  Fidelity alone shall instaurate the Godhead in her bosom.


God organizes never his attributes fully in single structures.  He is instant, but never extant wholly, in his works.  Nature does not contain, but is contained in him; she is the memoir of his life; man is a nobler scripture, yet fails to outwrite the godhead.  The universe does not reveal, eternities do not publish the mysteries of his being.  He subjects his noblest works to minute and constant revision; his idea ever transcends its form; he moulds anew his own idols; both nature and man are ever making, never made."

All the sayings can, of course, be found easily on the internet...

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