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Ruskin, John - Extracts from Letters to the Clergy

Identifier

005131

Type of spiritual experience

Background

In one of the more ironic events in Ruskin's life, he was asked by the Christian church council to first speak to their council in what might have ben a sort of debate and then when he declined because of his poor health, to at least write a few letters stating his views. 

He agreed to a few letters and these resulting letters make wonderful reading.  Their contents provoked reams and reams of comment from the council itself none of which is worth including as they appear to have both not understood and ignored what he said and worse to have used it to push their own views.  This rather leads one to suspect the motive of those wanting Ruskin's views and leads to the suspicion that the whole exercise was a sort of failed publicity stunt by the established Church.  One that in the end did not quite turn out as planned

Most of the following is about hypocrisy and 'sin'

A description of the experience

Extracts From Letters to the clergy.

 ………… the foulest oaths of the thief and the street-walker are, in the ears of God, sinless as the hawk's cry, or the gnat's murmur, compared to the responses in the Church service, on the lips of the usurer and the adulterer, who have destroyed, not their own souls only, but those of the outcast ones whom they have made their victims.  It is for the meeting of Clergymen themselves - not for a layman addressing them - to ask further, how much the name of God may be taken in vain, and profaned instead of hallowed in the pulpit, as well as under it.

……..Without dwelling on the possibility….of an honest clergyman's being able actually to prevent the entrance among his congregation of persons leading openly ‘wicked’ lives, could any subject be more vital …than the difference between the present and the probable state of the Christian Church which would result, (were it more the effort of zealous parish priests), instead of getting wicked poor people to come to church, to get wicked rich ones to stay out of it?…………..

…….I was reading the second chapter of Malachi this morning by chance, and wondering how many clergymen ever read it, and took to heart the "commandment for them."  For they are always ready enough to call themselves priests (though they know themselves to be nothing of the sort), whenever there is any dignity to be got out of the title; but, whenever there is any good, hot scolding or unpleasant advice given them by the prophets, in that self-assumed character of theirs, they are as ready to quit it as ever Dionysus his lion-skin, when he finds the character of Herakles inconvenient.  "Ye have wearied the Lord with your words;" (yes, and some of His people too, in your time).

The source of the experience

Ruskin, John

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

 

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