Saturday, November 8, 2008

Readings: Final Irony

I concluded my post of November 3, 2008 by stating:

In my next post, I will discuss briefly how Erikson demonstrates this paradoxical effect on both organized religion and society-at-large to be mirrored, or foreshadowed in the personality of Luther himself, in so much as he represents a type which Erikson calls the “homo religiosus.”

Well, this has turned out not to be “my next post.” That said, I no longer feel the inspiration to go into another lengthy exposition on the topic of Luther. This is, it seems, a different, perhaps “Post-Obama” world, in which such considerations no longer matter. (I’m kidding.)

What I think I will do, instead of scrapping the two excerpts about the homo religiosus upon which I was planning to build this post, is just let it be a kind of extended Quote du Jour. Anybody who read the November 3rd post can make the connections to the following for himself:

[A homo religiosus] is always older, or in early years suddenly becomes older, than his playmates or even his parents and teachers… Because he experiences a breakthrough to the last problems so early in his life maybe such a man had better become a martyr and seal his message with an early death; or else become a hermit in a solitude which anticipates the Beyond. We know little of Jesus of Nazareth as a young man, but we certainly cannot even begin to imagine him as middle-aged.

This brings to mind the following lines from the early Bob Dylan lyric, “My Back Pages”:

In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I'd become my enemy
In the instant that I preach

Erikson also wrote:

No wonder that [the homo religiosus] is something of an old man (a philosophus, and a sad one) when his age-mates are young, or that he remains something of a child when they age with finality. The name Lao-Tse, I understand, means just that.

And Dylan’s refrain in “My Back Pages” is, of course:

Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.

Feel free to contemplate Dylan as a modern-day homo religiosus cast from the same mold as Luther. Or not.