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Saturday, September 20, 2003

Emerson watch.

I'm exhausted from all the Ralph Waldo Emerson bicentennial celebratin', but there's more tonight at Boston's Fanueil Hall. This morning's Boston Globe asks Richard Geldard, one of the speakers at tonight's program, "In a country with so many people belonging to organized religions, wouldn't Emerson's disdain for organized religion and Christianity leave him irrelevant to many Americans?" This answer strikes me as, well, too flattering to be true:

Emerson is a hero to the Unitarians and Universalists, because they have, I think, a more enlightened view of the individual religious experience.

("Emerson's philosophy still resonates." Rich Barlow. Boston Globe 9.20.03: B2)

Update: Or, let me put it this way: The Unitarian Universalist fondness for Emerson is partly — maybe even largely — due to our emphasis on individual religious experience, but I wouldn't say that makes us more enlightened. In Concord, where streets and schools and all manner of things are named "Emerson" and "Thoreau" and "Alcott," but where Transcendentalism has hardly shaken people out of conventionality, we're likely to find at least as prominent a reason for the veneration of Emerson: that's where he's from. A huge reason for the UU love affair with Emerson is that he's the most famous Unitarian. That's not enlightened; it's just human.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 20 September 2003 at 8:39 AM

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