Cultural Christianity kills. Taking Blake’s Christianity seriously. William on Jesus

An audio version of this talk is at my podcast, Talks and Thoughts, available via podcast feeds.

At one level, Blake is clearly Christian. It’s even trivial to say so. And yet, his identification with Jesus is often sidelined, even written out, of accounts of the poet’s work today.

There are many reasons for this neglect: an understandable disillusionment with Christianity; the replacement of participative Christianity with cultural Christianity and its stress on moral law; the rise of atheism in the 19th century; the colonisation of literary studies with secular assumptions.

But Blake is quite clear: without the divine vision, focused on Jesus the imagination and the centrality of the continual incarnation, the golden string he offers us today, will not lead to heaven’s gate. So what type of Christianity does he champion? How does he communicated it? And why is it still so needed, 200 years on.

This talk was given to the Blake Society.

0:00 Introduction
0:47 The centrality of a continual incarnation
6:00 His links with Orthodoxy and mystical Christianity
9:44 The place of Jesus
11:31 Transfiguration as a foretaste of Eternity
12:34 The divinity of the woman caught in adultery
14:36 Jesus in the poem Jerusalem
16:00 “I have power to raise from death”
18:50 The breath divine or Spirit in Blake
19:58 Union with Jesus
21:25 The purpose of forgiveness
24:00 The meaning of self-annihilation
27:54 Inspired by the Gita
29:31 A commodious Christianity
33:26 The failure of naturalism and the cosmos as a closed system
38:34 The inhumanity of atheistic humanism
40:33 Mystical Christianity and participation with nature
44:09 Ethical Christianity divides: religion hid in war
46:53 “Thy own humanity learn to adore”. Restoring humanism
49:18 “There is a moment in each day”. Blake’s apocalypse is now