Monday, May 13, 2013

Herman Melville's Religious Journey

"Moby Dick was the Da Vinci Code of Melville's time."


And Melville, it seems, was a Unitarian.

Unitarians are Trinitarians without the trinity (father, son, holy ghost bundle). It's not the father, it's not the son, and it's not the holy ghost. It's almost Buddhist! What do Unitarians do at Xmas and Easter? Do they 'do' Holly and Lilies? I wonder...

Unitarianism is a reaction to Calvinism in the same way Buddhism is a reaction to Brahmanism. There is that nasty Michael Servetus affair for Calvinists to deal with. It was SO 12th century to behave in this way. I am not JUDGING Calvin - his sadistic actions speak louder than his feeble words. Calvin had chronic pulmonary tuberculosis. It was, in his view, predestined by god. He was not the kind of guy you would invite over for coffee - or a hot bottle of sake.

And THAT makes "Herman Melville's Religious Journey" worth reading!

Melville's mother was a Calvinist (Dutch Reformed Church). And his dad was a Unitarian.

From his writings, it was obvious that Melville was poking fun at FUNDIES.

The American Revolution was as much 'against the church' as it was 'against royalty.' And this brief book describes the turf of Melville's day.

Melville's life followed the doubt, analysis, reflection, awareness path that is so rare in the west.

This book is quite remarkable in pointing out this little detail - call it the satori** of Herman Melville.

The novelette 'Billy Budd, Sailor' is the first book by Melville that you should read (even before Moby Dick). Billy Budd is about more than law and ethics. Billy Budd is not merely about good and evil in the microcosm of a ship but rather about Melville himself - not understood by the general public because he - in the perception of the unwashed masses - was tongue tied. Therefore Melville was a commercial failure in his own day. What he wanted to say, he could not say. What his readers gathered from his works was NOT the message he was trying to convey! Yet, today he is generally recognized - because of the three-dimensional depth of Moby Dick - as the greatest author in the history of American English literature. It is unfair to think the average high school student can gain much from Moby Dick. Indeed, only the able among the college crowd gain much.

*Five United States presidents were Unitarians