September 13, 2016
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I think that this is interesting because before during the puritan writings, they hold themselves above everyone else and they are the elect few who will inheret heaven. Paine says he believes in one god and that his religious duties consists of being loving and trying to make his fellow creatures happy. It is a refreshing change from the puritan thought, and I can see the shift in thinking.
I agree with you, while we read the puritan writings it felt as if they did hold themselves to higher standards and almost in a snobby tone spoke down to those who didn’t live life in the sam manner they did. I enjoy reading this and the humbled tone of a man stating his opinion and not forcing his belief but merely stating it and applying a relevance to the audience. most humans would like to believe they want o life a life where they put the good of other before themselves as well as the good fo this earth.
I liked this paragraph in particular. It focuses on individual sovereignty and we see it transition away from absolute sovereignty. This paragraph, although short, gives the idea that people are capable and responsible for thinking and reasoning about not only themselves but others around them, to “make our fellow-creatures happy”. I think rationalism is also apparent in this paragraph. We see that justice begins to play a stronger role in society.
I like that you point out that this paragraph shows people are more or less capable of thinking and feeling for themselves. I see it as out of the goodness of their own hearts and not just to try to be ion Gods grace. It expresses that religions duties go beyond worship and praise and trying to become one of the elect. Everything about this concept of other duties is relieving to read of the tones and attitudes of the other reading in the class. Later he talks about his mind being his church and i love that because it expresses his own self evaluations and thoughts on his religion rather than just conforming and following the crowd as well as taking his beliefs and discrediting anyone who believed any different from him.
This paragraph particularly interested me because it’s so different from the Puritan ideology that we are familiar with. In previous readings, we’ve found that many Puritans follow the Bible extremely closely. Here, Paine is quite literally questioning the Son of God. He states that, “…such a circumstances required a much stronger evidence than their bare word for this, but we have not even this; for neither Joseph nor Mary wrote any such matter themselves” (NAAL 720). The fact that Paine is quite literally saying that he doesn’t quite know if he believes that the Virgin Mary was truly a virgin is not a radical idea but an idea that would even offend or shock Christians today. As the title implies, Paine is, of course, basing his ideas and writing off reason, but he admits that he is doubtful of many Christian ideals simply because he cannot find concrete evidence that they happened. This is a more than radical concept. Paine doubting religion is something that we haven’t seen in this American literature, so it was interesting to read about.
This passage really grabbed me because it is completely opposite than most of our other readings. He is saying that his mind is his church. I take that as he puts all of his faith into himself rather than into a higher power. Saying “I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of.” This is a big statement that many people would have seen threating to religion.
I completely agree with you. It also caught my attention for that reason. It is interesting to see the stark difference between what we have been reading and what this is saying. He has a personal tie to God, instead of going through the church. This is completely different than what puritans thought.
I think that Paine’s choice of words in this passage is very poor. Even in a time of growing rationalism, to say that churches established themselves “by pretending some special mission from God” (721), was a dangerous move simply because religion was still very dear to many. By practically accusing the church of deceiving people through the idea that revelation can only be given to “certain individuals” (721), Paine basically ostracized himself from France, England, and America because of his insensitive approach to a delicate topic.
I kind of disagree with your statement that Paine’s choice of words is poor. I think the claim Paine makes in this passage, “Every national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God” is a clearly bold claim, but it seems that his choice of words isn’t really the problem. My interpretation of this passage is that Paine sees the focus and reasoning of these churches and religions to be faulty. The idolization of certain individuals leads to problems between these religions and churches. I understand your point, but I’m not sure that Paine’s choice of words was poor. Paine has many bold claims throughout this piece, and to act like his claims are less valid because they are dangerous and personally ostracizing seems to miss the point of the text in general.
I can still remember the first time I read Thomas Paine (not that it was too terribly long ago) and how wonderfully conflicted it made me then as it makes me now. This passage perfectly captures the reasons as to why Paine’s words are always bittersweet for me. When he says “It is as if he (God) had said to the inhabitants” and goes on to make a kind of quote from God that melds the two worlds of religion and science, it strikes me that Paine is sort of like the flip-side version of Jonathan Edwards. But whereas Edwards was trying to further Puritan ideals, Paine is doing the same for Natural Philosophy. At its heart, each man’s belief system is a message of taking care of their fellow man, “TO BE KIND TO EACH OTHER”. What irritated me the first time I read Paine’s words is no less true for this go around – that even though each side of a religious debate might be that overall we treat one another with love and respect, it doesn’t seem to prevail as often as it should.
When doing my first reading of this entire section, I somehow missed or skimmed the third paragraph wherein Paine asserts that natural philosophy is the “true theology” but I noticed the recurring theme as I continued and made notes. What specifically stood out is Paine’s use of everyday language/imagery/tools that would be easily recognized by his audience, as evidenced in this particular paragraph, and it reminded me strongly of Edward Taylor’s writings. While I don’t understand the concepts exactly, I understand implicitly what he is expressing; that though man may develop or utilize tools to gain understanding it is still God who ultimately designed it. His argument that everything is circular, or as he says “triangular”, is also familiar for it is reminiscent of the Puritanical reflex (also a circular way of understanding) but also brings to mind modern day ideologies of interconnectedness.
Thomas Paine ideas are indeed very different from what I have learned in previous Puritan readings. One of the ideas that caught my attention is the fact that he talks about the concept of Deism as he professes that “his mind is his own church”. Also, he believes that religious institutions are mere human inventions for the whole purpose to “terrify and enslave mankind” He believes in a higher power. However, he questions traditional organized religious ideology and claims that he does not condemn others for doing so. He states, “All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit” (719). He does not feel the need for church association instead he believes that people have the power to make their own decisions to improve their lives through human reason and rationality as essential in everyday life.
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This part of the reading really stuck out to me because of the final sentence “My own mind is my own church”. This part stood out because it is so vastly different from the puritan readings we have read so far. All the writings on spirituality and religion during this time period seem to follow strict guidelines that exemplify God and his absolute sovereignty over man. This snippet shows more individual and original thought, which is a refreshing break from the scripted responses to God that the puritan religion embodies. Here, instead of saying what he perceives God might want him to say, he expresses his own spirituality and thoughts claiming them to be the truth. I like that he doesn’t try to shove his beliefs down others throats, he is just simply expressing himself and his real thoughts.
Good points, Paige. Rationalism, deism, individual sovereignty are all playing significant roles in this passage. The right to believe things based on one’s own individual experience is basic to the new conceptions of of the human condition that we see here and in Jefferson’s draft for the Declaration of Independence. Moreover, Paine is here not just making a rationalist argument but consciously modeling rational inquiry, thinking and writing very straightforwardly with sequential logic that exemplifies an approach to truth. The theme of entitlement here–to one’s own opinions–is repeated rhetorically in other paragraphs such as para 20 below, where Paine strategically concludes his statements with an assertion of the self and of individual rights.
I like how after “dissing” religion in the previous paragraph Paine tries to be politically correct by saying that he’s not trying to be rude to those who are religious. He tries to make his last comment better by explaining why he thinks churches are an invention to enslave humankind.
I took the most away from this particular paragraph because Paine is invoking the idea that God is only the creator of Earth; God doesn’t interfere with human affairs, and he doesn’t control the knowledge the individual gains. It is up to the individual to learn, and to “be kind to each other”. I do also find it interesting (especially with the previous conversation in class that posed the question: is the root of religion present in all things?) that Paine feels like he must “be kind”. He is still trying to do good by others, and himself. There is a shift among piety that his taking place here instead of piety that is rooted in religion, it is now piety that is rooted in country and people involved in country. This passage is very relevant to today: we are all in control of ourselves, and in most cases, kindness is held at a value that religious piety was in previous readings.
[Man cannot make principles, he can only discover them.]
This reading is an appropriate segue from the Puritanical sermons of Edwards towards the works of Jefferson. Here Paine offers the most grounded perception of God that we have read to date. Paine agrees with and recognizes the power and influence of the Puritan God, who’s absolute sovereignty controls everything, and balances that with the rationalizations of natural philosophy. Paine here agrees with the newfound sciences of Newton’s such as gravity as he goes on to mention, but presents the ideas and concepts of science as having been created by God himself. Through Paine’s eyes the laws of science were created by God and our understand of them comes through the powers of understanding that have been bestowed upon us by God only.
I believe that Paine makes some points and gives reason to why religion is unrealistic. However, he doesn’t seem to have any hard evidence about religion not being real. He doesn’t use strong language nor makes a convincing argument. It seems more like spouting off his own opinion in hopes of other people with just take his word for it. He uses this example, saying they all got the word of God from different sources to sway people away from the Word of God. These sources seem to overlap; Moses, divine inspiration and an angel can all be true. This piece is very different from the others we have read in class.
Out of the many paragraphs in this narrative, this one seemed to grab my attention on my initial read-through. It mentions the term “mythology” quite a bit but in relation to the story of Jesus Christ. Usually when religious stories are talked about in a religious setting, they are not talked about as “myths” but as true events that happened. I grew up in a very religious setting so I am able to say I understand this first hand. In this paragraph, It explains the story and the mythology behind it giving way to the understanding that is how it came to be but is a much different story than one usually hears in a religious setting. This paragraph allows readers to understand this version of the mythology and the one that is taught in church’s by people of faith. Which is the true version, one may never know.
Data Visualization for Paine.
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March 15, 2018 at 11:24 pm
See in context
March 6, 2018 at 7:48 am
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April 30, 2018 at 10:35 pm
In Charles Brockden Brown’s article, “The Difference between History and Romance” he writes about the novel, Wieland, and the relationship that the novel has between history and romance. He explains how history and romance are intertwined and how imperfections of man are part of our future, present, and past. In this paragraph, Clara is overtaken by her senses of this man, “I count among the most extraordinary incidents of my life”. Clara is an irrational character taken over by romantic ideas. Her history and her future are based on her emotional decisions. There is no separation between the two. Brockden Brown writes, “when busy in assigning motives to actions, are not historians but romancers.” Which relates directly to what is happening to Clara in this passage. When talking about history, it is the “noting and recording of the actions of men” which I think is very important because mankind is often if not always driven by passion and emotion. This also plays well with the strong theme of passion and emotion that is current throughout Wieland and all the characters.
Barnard, Philip, and Stephen Shapiro, editors. “The Difference Between History and Romance.” Wieland or the Transformation, with Related Texts, by Charles Brockden Brown, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, pp. 195–198.
April 27, 2018 at 11:10 pm
This passage is very focused on individualism, Franklin seems to be looking at the better things in his life instead of focusing on the negative. He doesn’t dwell on the idea that he wish he lived life without committing fault instead he touches on it and shifts into how he’s basically glad with how he’s lived life. In “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” Steven Forde presents the idea that Franklin Autobiography should be used as a model of developing good character and morals. Franklin states, “conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection”, but soon realizes that he had, “undertaken a task of more difficulty than he had imagined.” Forde believes, “each of the loopholes… is deliberate”. The loopholes represent another idea, that being that when striving for greater morality the individual must also take all aspects of life in consideration and be reasonable. Forbes introduces another idea, “If Franklin had viewed virtue more strictly, he might have been forced to give up on it”.
Forde, Steven. “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 86, no. 2, 1992, pp. 357–368. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1964225.
April 27, 2018 at 4:40 pm
In her article “What’s Wrong With Charlotte Temple” Marion Rust addresses Charlotte’s passions as well as her inability to make decisions and relates it to her overall fall from her position in society. Rust uses this paragraph as an example of Charlotte’s indecisiveness. Here it is exemplified that Charlotte can’t even make a simple decision on her own. She has to reach out to her mentor in order to decide what to even do with something as simple as a written letter. Rust catapults off this point by claiming that Charlotte’s future will continue to be unguided and spiral downward farther than she already has. Rust bases this claim on the idea that Charlotte will not be able to support herself because she is always looking to some one outside herself to guide her through obstacles.
Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3491497.
April 27, 2018 at 4:16 pm
Andrew Scheiber’s article “The Arm Lifted against Me”: Love, Terror and the Construction of Gender in “Wieland” explores Clara’s gendered role in Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland. Scheiber points to patterns of Clara’s marginalization and enclosure throughout the story, specifically in relation to her role in the context of the familial structure of the story’s plot. Scheiber explains that, “though the Age of Reason invites her to identify herself with the life of the mind, Clara is barred by her womanhood from fully achieving such an identification, since the gender ideology of the times defines the intellect as secondary rather than primary, to the essence of “feminine” nature” (Schieber 178) which is an interesting perspective considering the emphasis on reason and intellect throughout the story, and the fact that Clara is the primary protagonist of the story. Schieber claims that when Clara questions the audience, “was I not likewise transformed from rational and human into a creature of nameless and fearful attributes” (Brown 137) that she is exposing her “self-condemnation” that is born out of the gendered system that relates “rational” and “human” on the masculine side of gender axis, and the negation of those qualities to the feminine side of the axis.
Brown, Charles Brockden, Philip Barnard, and Stephen Shapiro. Wieland ; or the Transformation. An American Tale with Related Texts. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2009. Print.
Scheiber, Andrew J. “‘The Arm Lifted against Me’: Love, Terror, and the Construction of Gender in ‘Wieland.’” Early American Literature, vol. 26, no. 2, 1991, pp. 173–194.
April 27, 2018 at 4:07 pm
In his article, entitled ‘Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in American Culture’, scholar Robert A. Ferguson examines the character of Rip Van Winkle in depth and identifies some of the key flaws that keep this iconic figure of early American Folklore in conversation to this day. One of the flaws identified in Ferguson’s article is the issue of drink, which is brought up in the selected paragraph. Ferguson argues that Rip’s problems with being a “naturally thirsty soul” can be attributed to and explain his lack of success in life: “Habitual drinking keeps him from the steady application that every good farm requires” (533). This explanation of Rip’s tendency to ‘bum around’ aligns to the events of the story, as well as illuminating a reason why he continues to be a influential character in American literature. According to Ferguson, “We value Rip most of all because we find something of our own foibles in him, not because we worry about drink or because we fear an encounter with Heinrich Hudson when we enter the Kaatskill Mountains. Rip’s faults…are our own bad habits carried to extremes. Irving keeps to the lighter side of these extremes” (533-534). Through the relatable aspects and complexities of Rip’s character, readers throughout the years are enabled, through Irving’s lighthearted storytelling, to return to this original American folktale with as timeless a perspective as the readers who scanned the first print-warmed lines of this work.
Ferguson, Robert A. “Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in American Culture.” Early American Literature, vol. 40, no. 3, 2005, pp. 529–544. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25057421.
April 27, 2018 at 3:46 pm
In “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity” by Blythe Forcey, it is said that the motherly affection of the narrator is what really makes this story relatable. I found this article to be interesting because I think that it very true. I think the way that the narrator acts in a motherly way really helps the story along. Forcey states, “Early American readers were able, as they read this novel, to live through a nightmare of dislocation, alienation, and abandonment that mapped their worst fears. But, guided by the careful and caring narrative of Mrs. Rowson, they emerged safe and unscathed, with all troubling ambiguities and terrors temporarily put to rest” (227-228). I think this is a very important quote because it makes you, as the reader, realize just how good of an author Susana Rowson truly was. To be able to make her readers feel safe even during a scary time, all due to the way this story is narrated. Forcey also states, “The motherly character of Rowson’s narrative voice is evident from her first addresses to the reader… Thus she offers, quite explicitly, to stand in for those ‘natural friends’ that the reader might have lost and to protect them from the horrors of the world” (228). I think this is a very important statement as well. Forcey makes it clear that even from the very first sentence of this story, Susana Rowson manages to take our hand and make us feel safe.
Forcey, Blythe. “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity.” American Literature, vol. 63, no. 2, 1991, pp. 225–241. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2927163.
April 27, 2018 at 3:45 pm
I also really loved this line. The Earth is the beginning and the end of the cycle of life, and that gets so overlooked in our day to day struggles. Nature and death are like you said, both important parts of the cycle of life. The connection being made in these two lines applies to most of what we have studied through the semester in this class. Even the puritans had themes of nature as a part of their beliefs. Nature and death are the two things that connect humanity because no human on Earth can avoid either one of these things. We will all die and become a part of nature once more, because that is how we began the cycle.
April 27, 2018 at 3:12 pm
Within this passage, we witness the first instance of Charlotte beginning to distrust her own instincts. While at the party she was led to believe would be fun and entertaining, she realizes that being obedient and staying home would have been better than sneaking out with La Rue. As the story progresses we see Charlotte trust those instincts less and, according to Marion Rust’s article “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple'”, her behavior becomes increasingly described as some “form of collapse, in which her future direction is determined by nothing more deliberate than her center of gravity.” This continual falling down that Charlotte experiences effectively acts to demonstrate Rowson’s commentary on the unreliability of young women’s own moral character and how they are insufficiently able to stand up to the force of external moral corruption.
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Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118.
April 27, 2018 at 2:25 pm
Throughout her essay, “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself”, Cath N. Davidson expresses the aspects which make the text so significant. She explains the strength of emotion that is brought because the narrative is told from Equiano himself. She also expresses that the non-traditional storytelling is what makes it interesting and evokes emotion throughout. Davidson ultimately points out that, “Many aspects of the text make it significant, but especially impressive is it expansive reach” (19). His story is told in many parts of the world and allows readers to feel this narrative from place to place based on his narrating abilities. For example, Equiano himself states “in the preceding chapter I have set before the reader a few of those many instances of oppression, extortion, and cruelty, which I have been a witness to in the West Indies”. As readers have been taken from place to place Equiano stops to show the places he’s been and the things he’s seen. Davidson also points out the emotion-evoking tones and voice used by Equiano. Addressing the many aspects of the text Davidson writes, The text combines (in unequal parts) slave narrative, sea yarn, military adventure, ethnographic reportage, historical fiction, travelogue, picaresque saga, sentimental novel, allegory, tall tale, pastoral origins myth, gothic romance, conversion tale, and abolitionist tract, with different features coming to the fore at different times, and the mood vacillating accordingly” (20). His slave trade journey was terrible and cruel; as readers see Equiano journey from place to place they empathize with him more and begin to realize the terrible conditions in which he was under. The narrative of Equiano become more and more effective for readers because of the places Equiano takes us and the voice he uses to evoke that emotion out of readers.
Davidson, Cathy N. “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself.” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, vol. 40, no. 1/2, 2006, pp. 18–51. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40267683.
April 27, 2018 at 1:26 pm
According to William Pencak, author of “Benjamin Franklin’s Biography, Cotton Mather, and a Puritan God,” in this paragraph, Franklin is defending the stakes on which he wrote his autobiography, as well as defending his own morality. Franklin was very dedicated to his moral standing with himself and God and went through extreme measures to ensure that he would end up on the ‘right’ side of things. This particular passage is about the ‘justification of his book’ which ‘illustrates an important philosophical point: the need for ideal principles, realized in practice, to subdue “Natural Inclination,” as well as the bad effects of, “Custom and Company” (Pencak 8). The ‘artifice’ that Franklin describes represents the civilization of people that he is surrounded by and he believes that they should be informed of his knowledge, life, and commitment to God. Franklin didn’t believe that being religious meant attending church, donating to pastors, or things alike. It was about believing in God, Praying honestly, and being virtuous. Throughout this autobiography, Franklin defends and justifies his beliefs and morality.
Pencak, William. “BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, COTTON MATHER, AND A PURITAN GOD.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, vol. 53, no. 1, 1986, pp. 1–25. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27773087.
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