Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sundays with William Blake: Some Thoughts on the Holy Spirit

I think of myself as a Catholic with a strong Unitarian bent.

A bivariate Gaussian distribution, also known as a "bivariate normal distribution."  I often think I can see the reflection of the minds of the mathematicians who study certain fields.  In the case of Gauss (1777-1855) I wonder what Gauss was expressing about himself in his exploration of the normal distribution.  Later the Gaussian distribution would become essential not only for modern statistics but also for understanding modern physics.  For example, Einstein connected the Gaussian distribution to Brownian motion and, therefore, diffusion in 1905.

To me, one of the central portions of my faith is belief in the Holy Spirit, which we recognize from the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed:

"I believe... in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets."

I don't necessarily think other faiths are unholy or evil.  In fact, there's so much truth in other faiths that, like many Unitarians, I tend to believe they too are touched by the Holy Spirit.

In Blake's "All Religions are One," I feel he explores this Unitarian idea.  To me, his "Poetic Genius" is the same creature - or born of the same creature - as the Holy Spirit.

All Religions are One
by William Blake

The Voice of one crying in the Wilderness

The Argument

As the true method of knowledge is experiment the true faculty of knowing must be the faculty which experiences. This faculty I treat of.

That the Poetic Genius is the true Man. and that the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic Genius. Likewise that the forms of all things are derived from their Genius. which by the Ancients was call'd an Angel & Spirit & Demon.

As all men are alike in outward form, So (and with the same infinite variety) all are alike in the Poetic

No man can think write or speak from his heart, but he must intend truth. Thus all sects of Philosophy are from the Poetic Genius adapted to the weaknesses of every individual

As none by traveling over known lands can find out the unknown. So from already acquired knowledge Man could not acquire more. Therefore an universal Poetic Genius exists

The Religions of all Nations are derived from each Nations different reception of the Poetic Genius which is every where call'd the Spirit of Prophecy.

The Jewish & Christian Testaments are An original derivation from the Poetic Genius. this is necessary from the confined nature of bodily sensation

As all men are alike (tho' infinitely various) So all Religions & as all similars have one source

The true Man is the source he being the Poetic Genius


  1. I tried the UUs, and I appreciate their niche, but, for me personally, I found them too...mushy. Actually, tried them them at least twice. The first time was in Schenectady in the late 1970s, and was quickly bored by the argument that the use of candles were too "papist".

  2. I've attended Unitarian services with a friend who is a devout Unitarian. Sounds strange, but she's been every religion from Wicca to Muslim; Unitarian is a good fit for her.

    I never heard them say anything nasty about Catholics, but I've found if you stick around most churches long enough they will blurt out something stupid. For example, at a pizza party, people kept talking about how other religions were "nuts," including Catholics but mostly focusing on Mormons. (In other news, how people around me feel about Mormons might mean Romney doesn't have a prayer.)

    I noticed your ABC Wednesday was early this week - it's Monday (I actually checked the calender.) I didn't know if that was on purpose; I know you schedule them for release, so I didn't know if you entered a date wrong or something.

  3. Oh, and you're right on the "mushy." Or at least the absence of rules. To me, a religion with no rules doesn't make sense.

    Love the thought, though, of a pluralistic religion. Done with a great deal of scholarship, it could be really intense and beautiful.

  4. The notion of the Presense of G-d is pretty universal in the Abrahamic Faiths. Also, the concept obviously does not conflict with a Unitarian understanding of G-d, as it exists within both Judaism and Islam.

  5. It's my understanding - although I'm not certain on this, and would love to learn more - that to Unitarians there's no conflict between the G-d of the Abrahamic faiths, but to the Abrahamic faiths, there would be a conflict with the Unitarian concept of God. That is, Unitarian beliefs appear to conflict with "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me."

    In Christianity, of course, we have the Holy Spirit, which is part of the Triune God. I don't know if "Shekhinah" correlates to Holy Spirit; I don't know if it would be insulting to correlate the two.

  6. In answer to your question, I post ABC Wednesday on Tuesday, unless I have something I'd rather post on that particular day, then I'll go to Monday. My anniversary with my wife trumps ABCW on Tu. Major holiday will. The 26th of the month, when I ALWAYS talk about the Daughter.

    But watch out for my next W post. It's on Saturday, and for a good reason.

  7. How long in advance do you plan your posts? Did you always do it that way?