Jonathan Edwards Sinners in the Hands of Essay

  • Length: 7 pages
  • Subject: Literature
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #37946207

Excerpt from Essay :

Jonathan Edwards "Sinners in the hands of an Angry God"- write about your response to Edward's sermon as a member of his congregation.

(http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/sermons.sinners.html)

Edward's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is fascinating from a historical perspective but absolutely frightening from the perspective of someone who might have been listening to the sermon when it was delivered in 1741. The "fire and brimstone" approach to religious teachings is unpalatable. Religion should engender love and trust in humanity, not fear, anger, and near hatred. Edward seems angry, and is trying to encourage the congregation to join him by cultivating a sense of fear and self-loathing. However, I am reacting with my modern sensibilities. If I were a member of a New England congregation, I might actually be as mad as Edwards was, and receptive to his ideas. I might have come from a religious background that fomented fear of both God and Hell.

The Bible would have been my sole source of guidance; if I could read at all this text would be the only one I turned to. Moreover, I would have developed faith within a community of like-minded individuals. Edwards had a pulpit because Edwards had a large audience. In fact, Edwards' style of preaching is the underpinning of subsequent American evangelical traditions. I would not be alone if I shared the fervent, feverish, fiery spirit of this sermon.

"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" would also have left me convinced that my love for Jesus Christ was real. If I had been raised in a religious community with few other options, I would have agreed with everything that Edwards said on the pulpit. Unless I believe in Christ, I am going to hell. If I had not yet seen "the light" of Christ, then Edwards had a message for me: "The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you."

2. St. Jean De Crevecoeur "Letters from an American Farmer"-- Letter III "What is an American" (http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/CREV/letter03.html) and "Who told you anybody wants to hear from you? you ain't nothing but a black woman" by Hattie Gossett. -write about reactions to his interpretations being an American as well as those of Morales and Gossett.

St. Jean de Crevecoeur writes about what it means to be an American. His ideals still ring true today, and characterize American cultural identity. First, Crevecoeur describes America to a European audience. Many of his readers might have heard rumors about what life in America was like, but Crevecoeur spells it out. He states that the Europeans brought their culture and their arts, but that in the United States the land was much more pristine. One of the most interesting observations the de Crevecoeur makes about America is that its industry is "unfettered and unrestrained, because each person works for himself." He idealizes America compared to Europe, which he believes is too class-conscious and has a rigid social order.

Reading Hattie Gossett and Morales adds more depth to the discussion of what it means to be an American. Being an American is a far cry from what de Crevecoeur describes in his letter. De Crevecoeur's version of what it means to be an American is biased and told from the perspective of a white European settler who is the member of a dominant culture. For de Crevecoeur, diversity in America is nothing more than a "mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes," as he conveniently overlooks African-American and Native Americans because they do not exist as people to him; people of color do not count. This is why Morales and Gossett discuss what it means to be an American from a non-white perspective. Not all Americans are of European decent, and not all have had the idealistic access to self-determination as de Crevecoeur describes. De Crevecoeur had idealized the United States as a place of equality and his complete disregard for non-white people has characterized the American culture and response to diversity ever since he published his letters. "He is either an European, or the descendant of an European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country."

"Self-reliance," "Circles," and "Nature" by Emerson- write about Emerson's concept of the "transparent eyeball" and necessity for constant movement. (http://www.bartleby.com/5/109.html) (http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/emerson/nature-emerson-a.html#Chapter I)

Ralph Waldo Emerson has an appealing worldview. His transcendentalism is philosophically rich, and his respect for nature as the gateway to spiritual understanding is a welcome alternative from religious dogma and fundamentalism. Throughout Emerson's writing, central themes emerge related to freedom, self-reliance, and the development of human potential.

One of Emerson's motifs is that of the transparent eyeball, which the author addresses in the essay "Nature." The transparent eyeball represents the ability of a human being to become one with nature, which is an ideal transcendental state. Yet it is interesting that Emerson uses the eyeball as a literal motif. The transparent eyeball is not just a symbol. Emerson glorifies the human eye, and even writes a whole section about beauty that depends on the medium of sight. Emerson ignores the way the blind perceive beauty, but the author does capture the special nature of vision as a means of communing with the universe. When Emerson writes about the transparent eyeball, it sounds as if he is on a psychedelic drug. "all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God."

Emerson echoes his fascination with the eyeball in "Circle," which he begins by stating, "The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary picture is repeated without end. It is the highest emblem in the cipher of the world." Also in "Circles," Emerson refers to the necessity for constant movement, because it is the natural order of things in the universe. He writes, "Yet this incessant movement and progression which all things partake could never become sensible to us but by contrast to some principle of fixture or stability in the soul."

Chapters 1-9 of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself (Norton Edition)- write why you believe Douglass includes the preface by William Lloyd Garrison and letter by Wendell Phillips before he begins his narrative.

In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave the author includes an introduction or preface by William Lloyd Garrison as well as a letter written by Wendell Phillips. One of the reasons for the inclusion is to give respect, because Garrison encouraged Douglass to write the narrative. Douglass discusses how he met Garrison, who was a political activist and abolitionist, and in the Preface, Garrison states that he knew that there was something special about Frederick Douglas when they met at the Anti-Slavery convention in Nantucket.

In the letter, Wendell Phillips writes about how slave narratives would become important historical documents. Texts like that of Douglass need to be read because they bring the light of truth to Americans who have been in denial of the brutality of slavery. The inclusions of these two elements honors Garrison's and Wendell's contributions of bringing the slave narrative to the public.

Although he is white, Garrison remained committed to true equality. Garrison was also a believer of women's rights. The fact that both Phillips and Garrison are white is important, because it does show that the target reader was white. The white reader might have needed the white "stamp of approval" on the book, as if the words of Frederick Douglass were untrustworthy or not valid on their own.

Douglass Chapters 10-Appendix, "Letter from a Former Slaveholder" by A.C.C. Thompson and "Reply to Thompson's Letter" by Douglass. -write about rationale behind Thompson and Douglass's exchange.

Douglass includes the "Letter from a Former Slaveholder" by A.C.C. Thompson and his "Reply to Thomspon's Letter" for rhetorical reasons. The letter offers Douglass the opportunity to respond to his detractors. Thompson offers the most common and predictable arguments both in favor of slavery and against the authenticity of Douglass's narrative. Thompson demeans the narrative on the grounds that Douglass is exaggerating how bad slaves are treated. This was a common reaction to abolitionism. Moreover, the letter by Thompson actually serves to bolster Douglass's case. The tone and language of Thompson's letter is condescending, which is precisely how many white Americans viewed Blacks.

Therefore, the letter allows Douglass to engage a racist in a Socratic dialogue. The technique is brilliant, which is why Plato used it in his writings. Responding to Thompson allows Douglass to clarify his position, and state his case with a clear audience in mind. The inclusion of Thompson in the dialogue helps…

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