Monday, April 23, 2012

Monotheism: An Addendum.  About Jesus of Nazareth much has been written from all sorts of viewpoints.  Since so little is known about his life, it is easy to represent it, with little evidence, as being this way or that.

All the same, I found this quotation from W. A. Auden to be stunning in its obtuseness.

"Jesus convinced me that he was right because what he taught has become consistently more and more the necessary and natural attitude for man as society has developed the way it has, i.e. he forecast our historical evolution correctly. If we reject the Gospels, then we must reject modern life ... Neither the heathen philosophers nor Buddha nor Confucius nor Mahomet showed this historical insight."

Does he really know much about the "heathen philosophers" (Plato and Aristotle, I suppose) or "Mahomet"?  And when did he have a private audience with Jesus, who convinced him?  The mind boggles.


Blogger Richard Simpkins said...

Seriously? W.H. Auden was classically educated at Oxford, mostly likely read the Gospels in the original κοινὴ Greek, and regularly wrote poems in Latin as well as English. Given his time and place, he was at least passingly familiar with the Vulgate, as well. Disagree with him if you like, but don't doubt that he understood as much about Christ as most people could.

He made the above statement long after he "lost his faith" as he put it. So, he was a gay man at the turn of the century who also an atheist. He was no droner of doctrine. He was free of it. So, when he says that Jesus philosophy had such great merit, he wasn't speaking out of slavish piety. It was a perfectly valid sense of philosophic felicity that he felt he had with the man. Anyone who reads the Gospels, attends especially to the red letters, and makes a study of the Beatitudes can see why Auden would come to this conclusion.

Again, I'm not saying you must agree, but Auden makes a solid argument here.

4:29 PM  

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