Blog 3 Emerson & Thoreau

The first paragraph I have chosen to discuss is the 25th one down in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Divinity Address. I picked this one because in a way I feel that I can relate to what Emerson is saying in this view/critique of religion. Throughout the paragraph he describes in adamant detail the mundane step by step process of being a religious practitioner. Even in the first sentence “Whenever the pulpit is usurped by a formalist, then is the worshipper defrauded and disconsolate.”, it is obvious he believes that true religious meaning becomes distorted through traditions.  According to Emerson when the people being taught to teach us religion follow this “formalist” approach towards it then the Worshiper’s view could not be correct. I believe it is Emerson’s Perspective in order to fully embody the true meaning of religion an individual must be able to relate. If a person is able to relate it in a way so they are able to fully understand the actual meaning of religion then they take the next step in becoming self-fulfilled. I agree with his view that religion through only this step by step processes in order to understand the true meaning is wrong. I do not think that there is this fine line that is mandatory to follow so a person can become closer to God. I also think it is good to relate with those teaching us religion in order to have a better comprehension, and the leaving of traditions so those who want achieve a higher meaning in their own way can.  Finally I think Emerson indirectly points out the fact that true religious meaning more than likely becomes distorted through the faults of man.


For my second paragraph I have selected a passage from Thoreau’s resistance to civil Government. I feel that his final paragraph is great in summarizing his overall argument towards the idea of having a government. The gist of his argument is that he does not fully oppose government or the idea of government, which is evident when he says “The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I”. He does know that some people are more capable at dealing with the community than himself. Still he is privy to the fact there are those in power who should not be. His ultimate reality, which I am in agreeance with, is one where a government can actually take into consideration the needs of all its people. He uses questions to get his point across of how a “real” government is needed. Finishing his paragraph with a cynical view that such a just government has not come about, where in my opinion it comes back to the fact that when things left in hand of man becomes perverted.

One thought on “Blog 3 Emerson & Thoreau”

  1. Both of these are important quotations, Phillip. And yes, both of these authors are exploring how important institutions can become perverted or used for bad ends!

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