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Roads to Divinity

Roads to Divinity douglas r. anderson Southern Illinois University Carbondale not long before he died, Henry David Thoreau was asked by a friend where religion was to be found in his writings. Thoreau responded by saying that his religiosity pervaded his works but that no one noticed it. This result was enabled by the cultural belief that religiosity entailed formal religion, creeds, fixed rituals, and overt discussions of God or gods. Thoreau's point--a development of Emerson's "Divinity School Address"--was to show the mistakenness of this compartmentalization of one's religious life. For Thoreau, genuine religiosity pervades and marks every aspect of one's being--body and soul. "Our life," Thoreau wrote in his journal in 1840, "is but the Soul made known by its fruits, the body."1 Living religiously was Thoreau's life's aim, and in fulfilling this aim, he well exemplified William James's notion of saintliness. For James, saints "are impregnators of the world, vivifiers and animaters of potentialities of goodness which but for them would lie dormant forever."2 Living religiously for Thoreau entailed one's engaging an element of wildness to resist the satisfactions and comforts of "fitting in" that tend to overwhelm us in life. As he suggested in his late essay "Walking," http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Pluralist University of Illinois Press

Roads to Divinity

The Pluralist , Volume 9 (1) – Mar 1, 2014

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1944-6489
Publisher site
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Abstract

douglas r. anderson Southern Illinois University Carbondale not long before he died, Henry David Thoreau was asked by a friend where religion was to be found in his writings. Thoreau responded by saying that his religiosity pervaded his works but that no one noticed it. This result was enabled by the cultural belief that religiosity entailed formal religion, creeds, fixed rituals, and overt discussions of God or gods. Thoreau's point--a development of Emerson's "Divinity School Address"--was to show the mistakenness of this compartmentalization of one's religious life. For Thoreau, genuine religiosity pervades and marks every aspect of one's being--body and soul. "Our life," Thoreau wrote in his journal in 1840, "is but the Soul made known by its fruits, the body."1 Living religiously was Thoreau's life's aim, and in fulfilling this aim, he well exemplified William James's notion of saintliness. For James, saints "are impregnators of the world, vivifiers and animaters of potentialities of goodness which but for them would lie dormant forever."2 Living religiously for Thoreau entailed one's engaging an element of wildness to resist the satisfactions and comforts of "fitting in" that tend to overwhelm us in life. As he suggested in his late essay "Walking,"

Journal

The PluralistUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Mar 1, 2014

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