Heretical Quote of the Day: I Will Live Then From The Devil

I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued adviser, who was wont to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. On my saying, What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? my friend suggested, — “But these impulses may be from below, not from above.” I replied, “They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil’s child, I will live then from the Devil.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self Reliance”

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About Kullervo

Thirtysomething Christian, husband, father and lawyer; interested in the Bible, country music, southern lit, guitars, gardening, beer, running, nature, rock and roll, wargaming, southern food, Calvinism, the Crusades, the Protesant Reformation and the Civil War.
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8 Responses to Heretical Quote of the Day: I Will Live Then From The Devil

  1. Jared C says:

    Self Reliance should be read at least once a year, just as a wake-up call.

  2. Kullervo says:

    I was reading it instead of working the other day.

  3. Where is this from? Was this something you said, Kullervo?

    I tried to make essentially this point to some Jehovah’s Witnesses who came by the other day. If we follow our conscience to cherry pick the parts of our religious heritage that we feel are worthwhile, why do we need to cede our autonomy to the Bible?

  4. Kullervo says:

    Where is this from? Was this something you said, Kullervo?

    Ha, I wish. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self Reliance.” Read it; it is insanely awesome. It’s old enough to be in the public domain so you can just google it.

    I tried to make essentially this point to some Jehovah’s Witnesses who came by the other day. If we follow our conscience to cherry pick the parts of our religious heritage that we feel are worthwhile, why do we need to cede our autonomy to the Bible?

    Well, it’s a conscious decision either way. The mistake is in assuming that using the Bible is somehow inherently more reliable, when you yourself had to evaluate the Bible and make the decision as a moral agent how much, if any, you accept.

    If you can make decisions on your own, you can also make the decision to follow other people’s good decisions. “Ceding autonomy” is illusory.

  5. Excellent. Similar in tone and content to my favorite portion of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, wherein Huck decides that if not turning Jim in as a runaway means he’ll go to Hell, “Well, then, I’ll go Hell.”

  6. I wish there was a way to respond to Diana Hurlburt above referencing the best line ever of the greatest book ever: “All right then, I’ll go to hell.” Huck, having been taught his whole life that slavery was Christian and that in aiding Jim he would be doomed to an eternity in hell, he did what his soul taught and made the decision to free Jim, though it cost him his soul.
    All around me know those 7 words well: “All right then, I’ll go to hell.” When I speak them it means I’m ready to do the hard thing, or the trouble-causing thing, but always the right thing. Or what I strongly believe to be the right thing.

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