The American Self

American, Religion, faith, freedom, Christianity

Culture and context: they shape our epistemology. This shapes our way of knowing G-d. Our theology. Orthodoxy is not “right knowing” in the sense of pure theology, but a cultural construct of theology.

“The American self is a gnostic self, because it believes, on a deep and abiding level, that authenticity arises from independence, and independence that is at once natural, sovereign, and solitary. When Thomas Jefferson wrote that he had “sworn on the altar of God Almighty eternal hostility against all forms of

 tyranny over the minds of men,” he was articulating the structure of feeling and belief that informs the American self. . . .


We should take seriously Harold Bloom’s willfully heretical argument that the “American Religion” is not Christian, at least in the way that Europe was Christian, but is, rather, Gnostic. Whether finding his evidence in Mormonism, the Baptist Church, or the poetry of Emerson, Bloom describes the core of the American religion as the unshakable conviction that there is something in the self that preceded creation, and that, for all our Whtimanesque desire to merge with groups, we can never fully trust external social institutions to care for the the aboriginal freedom of the solitary spark, with its “personal relationship” to nature or a gnostic Jesus.” ~Erik Davis, Technosis


~ by Brian Shope on June 18, 2013.

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