Negative Aspects of Christianity, as seen by Sherwood Anderson and Joseph Dewey. (1) In his critical essay No God in the Sky and No God in Myself: Godliness and Anderson, Joseph Dewey provides us with the insight on what constitutes the essence of American Protestantism, not as much as religion, but as a style of life, which results in the social alienation of people affected by religious fervour. Author makes a very good point when he suggests that the grotesque properties of Sherwood Andersons Whinesburg, Ohio, as literary piece, especially become apparent in the part Godliness, as such that contains a clue to metaphysical inconsistency of rationalized Christianity. Thus, we can say that the practical application of ideas contained in both, Deweys essay and Andersons novel, have far broader range then it is being traditionally assumed. Apparently, the character of Jesse Bentley personifies the tragedy of an idealistic soul, locked up in ideological cage of materialistic religion. The idealism, as the main trait of ones character, defines the psyche of White person more then anything else does. It is because White people are idealists by nature that allowed them to engage in abstract thinking, which, in its turn, laid foundation for the development of abstract sciences, with which we associate cultural and scientific progress.
Protestantism results in persons idealism becoming directed inwards, which is why, despite the fact that Protestants can be referred to as idealists, they are impotent, in spiritual sense of this word. Jesse Bentley is an embodiment of Christian virtues, which is exactly the reason he cannot attain happiness. Dewey makes a very good point when he suggests that: His (Jesses) raging prayers up and down the Wine Creek Valley capture the desperate (and thoroughly) Puritan condition of man never being at home in however splendid a world he finds, or builds on earth. Jesse’s neat cluster of houses -gives ironic testimony to his homelessness; at heart he feels himself an outcast in a Puritan post-lapsarian landscape (Dewey).
... Bruns 35). James rode with Anderson until he was wounded and sent home in 1865. After Jesse's recovery, he and his ... Not wanting to be left out, Jesse joined a Confederate regiment led by Lieutenant Bloody Bill Anderson. Unlike most other confederate regiments ... , Bloody Bill Anderson's regiment would 'use small gang ...
We can only agree with the author. Jesses life is an example of what happens to an idealistic individual when he chooses in favor of Semitic religion, which is anything but idealistic. Let us provide a short historical retrospective on the issue.
The reason why Christianity, in the form of Catholicism, became so popular among White people in Europe is that they could not read Bible, as it was only available in Latin. In fact, Catholic Church considered translating Bible into secular languages as major sin, because it did not want people to realize good books true message. Jesus was good, Satan was evil and the Saint Mary was the person to pray this is what Catholics needed to know. Protestants, while striving to rid Christianity of Catholic corruption, resorted to Old Testament. The reason why the majority of Native people in America have been slaughtered, upon the arrival of gentle and God-fearing Protestants, is because Protestants considered themselves as people of Israel and that because that they literally took the commandments of Jewish tribal God Jehovah to exterminate pagan nations, to free place for Jews. The most of Protestants were self-efficient people. They only needed God as one of many things to make their lives more comfortable.
The material riches were being considered as the proof of Gods favor. However, some Protestants were just too much of idealists to think of accumulating Earthly possessions as the only purpose of ones existence. Jesse Bentley appears to be such individual. Anderson describes him as a man with conviction that he was destined for something greater than just being a regular farmer: As time passed and he (Jesse) grew to know people better, he began to think of himself as an extraordinary man, one set apart from his fellows. He wanted terribly to make his life a thing of great importance, and as he looked about at his fellow men and saw how like clods they lived it seemed to him that he could not bear to become also such a clod (Anderson).
... in life is seen when the old man reflects on Manolin. When Santiago is at sea and hooks the great fish ... This represents the fact that in life one must move on and put great effort into tasks that are ... own actions.This quote also shows how in life a person ... is similar to how in life one cannot truly know the actions of other people, but one only knows his ...
The existence of ones great destiny implies the existence of greater power, which uses person destined for greatness for its own purposes. Thus, we can say that Jesse did not seek God, simply to be able to serve him, but because he needed God to confirm that he was leading a righteous lifestyle. Such desire reveals just about any person as such that has a growing God within. As intelligent, hardworking and responsible White man, Jesse can be referred to as person who fits perfectly well into the concept of biological evolution, which considers homo sapiens as intermediary link between ape and a super-man. Therefore, instead of looking for God up in the skies, Jesse would have been much better off looking for the God within. Unfortunately, he did not understand this, just as countless people, throughout the history, who became spiritually castrated, because of their belief in Christian nonsense. Dewey understood this fact perfectly well, which is why his essay contains following passage: As the Puritans discovered, Jesse finds his Cod incomprehensible, ominously quiet even at times of greatest need. If, as Perry Miller has suggested, the central drama of the Puritan experiment was the relationship between man and his Cod, it was often a heart-crushing, one-sided communication (Dewey).
Jesses daughter Louise and his grandson David can be thought of within a context of natural biological drives prevailing over the dead dogmatism of Christianity.
Whereas Anderson refers to Jesse as fanatic, thus implying that he is a Christian first and man later, with Louise it is other way around she is a woman who only acts as Christian once a week, when she goes to Church. She often acts in irrational manner, which has always been the case with women, subjected to PMS, throughout the history: She (Louise) flew into half insane fits of temper during which she was sometimes silent, sometimes noisy and quarrelsome. She swore and cried out in her anger. She got a knife from the kitchen and threatened her husband`s life. Once she deliberately set fire to the house, and often she hid herself away for days in her own room and would see no one (Anderson).
In addition, just as it is the case with all women in general, Louises life is affected by her animalistic instincts to far greater extent then Jesses of Davids lives. Deweys description of Louise provides us with a glimpse into her subconsciousness: Unlike her father, she does not look up but rather around her but not gently or lovingly as George Willard willrather, she looks about like some ravenous animal scouring the landscape for sustenance What Jesse seeks in Cod and what David shows promise of seeking in the imagination, Louise seeks in the sexual act (Dewey).
... divine purpose behind the calamities that had befallen Israel. (Anderson, pg. 269) God wished for his people to despise evil, and love ... mass of people ground into poverty at the bottom. (Anderson, pg. 259) God hated these who oppress the poor, who crush the ... , proclaimed that Yahweh too loathed the whole spectacle. (Anderson, pg. 258) The Lord God demanded obedience to him through the law that ...
The character of Louise is indispensable in Godliness, because author uses her to show the biological failure of Christianity, as religion that does not correspond to the laws of nature. Being a Christian causes Louise a great deal of harm, because she associates her sexual impulses with her psychological inadequacy, which results in her becoming mentally unstable. Being Christian does not suit Louise just as wearing three pieces costume does not suit a cannibal from Papua-New Guinea.
Louises lack of education prevents her from realizing this. The irony lies in the fact that, even though Louise strives to find a psychological comfort in Church, she becomes increasingly attracted to Earthly pleasures as fully efficient way to achieve happiness. Despite the fact that Louise used to refer to Jesse as a role model for her son David, she could not instill him with pathological piousness, because of being quite normal herself. Even though David used to be regarded as somewhat withdrawn kid, he was physically and mentally healthy person, which is why he would get horrified, every time he heard Jesse speaking in tongues. It appears from the context that, throughout his life, David will always have a psychological contempt towards Christianity, ever since the time of his failed initiation in the middle of field with senile Bible thumper Jesse, who had completely lost his marbles by that time. Anderson describes Davids first taste of Christianity as such that will always be associated with mental trauma, on his part: A kind of terror he had never known before took possession of David.
Crouching beneath a tree he watched the man on the ground before him and his own knees began to tremble. It seemed to him that he was in the presence not only of his grandfather but of someone else, someone who might hurt him, someone who was not kindly but dangerous and brutal (Anderson).
... : Enslow Publishers, Inc, 1996. Woodlief, Ann. “Henry David Thoreau.” American Transcendentalism Web. 26 June 2007. 19 May ... Twenty-First Century Books, 2007. Olson, Steven P. Henry David Thoreau American Naturalist, Writer, And Transcendentalists. New York: The Rosen ... generations” (81). After studying in college, Henry David Thoreau tried to teach schools in Concord (Stanley 18). ...
Whatever ironic it might sound, but we can say that Jesse did a big favor to David by exposing the metaphysical insanity of religion of tolerance to his grandson when he was young enough, thus preventing David from embracing Jesus, which could only result in David becoming emotionally unstable person, just as it is the case with all Christians. Whatever the mental shock, associated with witnessing Jesse speaking to God, might have been painful, it appears that it stimulated David intellectually. It is not the pure coincidence that Dewey refers to David as being quite different from Jesse and Jouise from very early stages of his life: As Jesse prepares the lamb for sacrifice, David uses his imagination to invest every action with significance. As Jesse and Louise move into closets of their own fashioning, David, transplanted to the farmhouse, opens up to sounds and sights (Dewey).
Apparently, the spiritual poison of Christianity, when applied to David, did not affect his mind in irreversible manner, just as it was the case with Jesse, but rather served as mental vaccine, which simply strengthened Davids psychological immunity. (2) Deweys essay helps us to understand the essence of ideological messages, contained in Andersons book, because he discusses the psychological complexity of characters as driving force behind their ways of acting. Dewey talks about Godliness as such that has a great ideological significance, because it reveals the mechanics of physically and mentally healthy people being turned into mindless robots by the very same religion that claims to have a beneficiary effect on such people. It is not a secret that the majority of White Americans consider themselves Christians. Moreover, they take pride in this fact, without realizing that, as religion of death, Christianity deprives them of their existential vitality. This is the reason why many whities in America are afraid of taking walk in their own towns, after it gets dark, because they do not want to sustain bodily injuries, as result of celebrating diversity, on the part of immigrants from Third World countries. Just like Jesse in Godliness, they prefer not to notice that their wishful thinking does not correspond to the objective reality.
At the same time, they seriously believe that all the people are equal, because Jesus says so. The numerous reality checks do not change the way they think. Thus, we can say that chapter Godliness and its interpretation by Joseph Dewey, help us to realize why, despite the fact that America is slowly becoming a Third World country itself, the majority of White people are simply too impotent to do anything about it.
... against the giant. During that time, Jesse, the father of David, would often send the young David to the battlefields to bring food ... of jealousy, even plotted several ways to kill David. But David’s trust to God never tainted and his years of loneliness and ... that he successfully surpassed. Likewise, through the story of King David, God shows that how big or small the sin that humans ...
Anderson, Sherwood Winesburg, Ohio. 2006. Bartleby.Com. 20 Apr.
2008. http://www.bartleby.com/156/ Dewey, Joseph No God in the Sky and No God in Myself: Godliness and Anderson. Abstract: This paper discusses Sherwood Andersons chapter Godliness in conjunction with Joseph Deweys essay No God in the Sky and No God in Myself: Godliness and Anderson. Outline: Main part Conclusion.