UU Minute #102

The Divinity School Address, part 2

One thing Emerson did in his Divinity School Address was criticize the style of preaching of his day. And because it is a style liable to creep into any era, Emerson’s words on this point are taught to every Unitarian ministerial student to this day. Through Emerson we are given to understand that to be called to ministry means being called to deal out to the people our lives, passed through the fire of thought.

In this famous passage in the Divinity School Address, Emerson describes attending a Unitarian service. Emerson said:
A snow storm was falling around us. The snow storm was real; the preacher merely spectral; and the eye felt the sad contrast in looking at him, and then out of the window behind him, into the beautiful meteor of the snow. He had lived in vain. He had no one word intimating that he had laughed or wept, was married or in love, had been commended, or cheated, or chagrined. If he had ever lived and acted, we were none the wiser for it. The capital secret of his profession, namely, to convert life into truth, he had not learned. Not one fact in all his experience, had he yet imported into his doctrine. This man had ploughed, and planted, and talked, and bought, and sold; he had read books; he had eaten and drunken; his head aches; his heart throbs; he smiles and suffers; yet was there not a surmise, a hint, in all the discourse, that he had ever lived at all. Not a line did he draw out of real history. The true preacher can be known by this, that he deals out to the people his life, — life passed through the fire of thought.

NEXT: Transcendentalism and Unitarianism

No comments:

Post a Comment