February 12, 2013

By their fruits

A few weeks back, I scored a major find at a local library. It was, and, yes, this does show what a geek I am, a 24 part lecture series on Transcendentalism and I was totally jazzed. I was all over it and regretted when it came to an end.

I'm not sure still what to make of Transcendentalism, that name for a diverse and fractious movement of writers, poets, dreamers, cranks and crazies that came spinning out of New England in the mid 1800s. And what a mixed lot they were, ranging from brilliant to batty.

But still, for all the amorphous verbosity, this was a movement or a trend in American thought that spread far beyond this continent and it had a largely beneficial influence, as its ripples were felt in the anti-slavery movement, support for the Union cause and abolition in the Civil War, the early women's movement, environmentalism, the utopian community movement,spiritual egalitarianism and other social reforms.

You could make a good case that one of these guys (Thoreau) accidentally laid the foundations for the theory of nonviolent action, which did great things during the Civil Rights movement and in many other circumstances..

People like Emerson and Thoreau were also among the earliest cultural bridges, promoting respect for other religions. No history of Buddhism's migration to the West or of the dawning appreciation in this country of such Indian classics as the Bhagavad Gita would be complete without a nod to this movement.

Jesus said "by their fruits shall you know them" and I try to make it a point to avoid sharp disagreements with him. By that standard, as loopy as some of the Transcendentalists were, they did pretty good.

Much more on Ralphie to come.

LATEST RANT. Here's my call for WV Governor Tomblin to expand Medicaid coverage to working West Virginians.


IT HAS BEEN WAY TOO LONG since I ran something about zombies.


No comments: