— Theodore Dwight Weld, “The Cost of Reform.” An unpublished manuscript in the Weld-Grimké Papers at the Ciements Library, Ann Arbor, MI
— Horace Bushnell, Nature and the Supernatural: As Together Constituting the One System of God,p. 491
Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love, 1847.
John Henry Newman Apologia Pro Vita Sua, 1864 (Norton Critical Edition, p. 63-4)
The way that Newman both commends theology done on the run, or as he puts it “in stormy times,” while also insisting on the necessity of a synthetic, synoptic interpretation in the interest of wisdom is most striking. It is also super-interesting to see that he doesn’t rate “genius” very highly in the long scheme of things. Perhaps he’s more for genealogy than for Great Men.
What if good institutions were in fact the product of good intentions? What if the cynicism that is supposed to be rigor and the acquisitiveness that is supposed to be realism are making us forget the origins of the greatness we lay claim to—power and wealth as secondary consequences of the progress of freedom, or, as Whitman would prefer, Democracy?
After all, these things rose together. The air is thick now with “the people,” a phrase that is meant to give authority to the claims and the grievances of those who use it. That it is often invoked in good faith one may doubt, but the fact that resort is had to it so insistently means that we are still good enough democrats to feel that ultimately authority and reason do and should lie with the people. Then the old impulse that lay behind the dissemination of information and learning, the will to ensure that the public will be competent to make the weightiest decisions and to conform society to its best sense of the possible should be as powerful as it has ever been, and more powerful because of the fragility of the contemporary world. Instead we have slack and underfinanced journalism and the ebbing away of resources from our universities, libraries, and schools. The liberation of the human individual as a social value required optimism, which it also amply justified. This loyalty to democracy is the American value I fear we are gravely in danger of losing."
Excerpted from Marilynne Robinson’s preface to her new collection of essays When I Was A Child I Read Books. Her questions, and the ideas that undergird them, are by turns elegant, beautiful, and pugilistic — invoking a way of life we have known, one that we seem to be forgetting, and one that we must learn how to fight for.
Marina Tsvetaeva, 1919-1920, in Poetry, March 2012, p. 555.
You should probably subscribe to this magazine. A student subscription is $17.50 USD and…well…you get lots and lots of poetry.
— Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Chapter 28.