Presentation on theme: "Dependence on the Divine Jessica Randolph Dr. Olsen English 111 Honors October 8, 2007 Tusculum College How Religion Affected the Daily Lives of American."— Presentation transcript:
Dependence on the Divine Jessica Randolph Dr. Olsen English 111 Honors October 8, 2007 Tusculum College How Religion Affected the Daily Lives of American Citizens in the 19 th Century
Intro to Religion in the Nineteenth Century They were all controlled by religious people. In fact, schools did not start to be taken over by nonbelievers or religiously neutral people until the end of the nineteenth century (Marsden, 442). Articles, published fiction, artwork, and teaching lessons all reinforced this idea of dependence on an otherworldly, divine being. People guided their entire lives by their choice of deity. What did the churches, the schools, and the businesses in the nineteenth century all have in common?
Popular Religions Two main religions dominated America at that time: Christianity and Judaism. As the former is an offshoot of the latter, the two did not have an overly hard time getting along. Who came out on top?
Louis Antoine Godey, Creator of Godey’s Magazine and Lady’s Book Louis Antoine Godey was a native New Yorker. He began working for a newspaper when he turned fifteen, and proceeded to earn enough money to move to Philadelphia after a few years. Only two years thereafter, Godey published his first Godey’s Magazine and Lady’s Book, which at the time was merely a collection of French articles and fashions (Briczinski para 1). It’s clear from reading through a few issues of Godey’s Lady’s Book that Louis Godey wanted to stress the importance of religion in his magazine. Take, for instance, the image on the next page: Starting Young
Christ and the Woman of Samaria Pictures such as this one, titled “Christ and the Woman of Samaria,” which was engraved specifically for the Lady's Book's use, showed the emphasis Godey wished to put on Christianity in his magazine. This engraving most probably depicts the beginning of the well-known tale of the “Woman of Samaria” in the fourth chapter of John in the Christian Bible. In the picture, Jesus Christ reaches out to the nameless woman of Samaria, possibly asking of her, “Give me to drink.” This represents the way in which Christ reaches out to every person's heart, and that the woman looks away from him suggests that she remains uncertain as to whether or not she should speak with him*, as many people also have to decide in their lifetimes. The overall message of this engraving, however, is not present in the picture at all, but rather in the biblical message that lies behind it. The woman of Samaria had been married five times, and at the time of meeting Christ at the well, she was sleeping with a man to whom she was not married. After Christ convinces the woman of his divinity, she brings her entire household to him to attain salvation and quits her sinful ways. I believe Godey meant to impart a powerful message to his readers: that no matter the depth of their sins, or past wrongdoings, or their race and heritage, it is possible to change, to attain salvation and lead a clean and pure life. * Samaritans and Jews were enemies, so to speak, and it was inappropriate for them to interact in any way.
Religion in the Home Environment Along with encouraging an altogether humble and righteous life, Godey published articles encouraging the spiritual growth of the entire household. Since his magazine’s target audience was women, the articles that were published often appealed to their motherly instincts, such as the published essay on the following pages. Life Lived Right
Religious Influences in the Country By Rev. John L. Blake, D.D. A MORE impressive scene is not known in rural life, nor, indeed, anywhere else, than the sight of a whole population, for miles around, on a pleasant Sunday morning in the vernal season, collecting for public worship on the church green. Everything without and everything within conspires to produce the emotions of chastened piety. The noise and bustle of labor were laid aside on the previous evening. Stillness reigns with undisturbed dominion. The realm of nature, as if to join the general homage, is peculiarly lovely. The rich and dense foliage of forests, waving in majesty and beauty; the grass, green and soft, like velvet, in the meadows and upon the roadside; and perfumes of flowers and aromatics everywhere regale the senses, and point upward to the Being that made and governs all. In the midst of this quiet loveliness and overpowering suasion, as far as the eye can reach in varied directions, family after family, each in a group by itself― those near by on foot, those more distant in carriages― is slowly advancing, with pensive air, to mingle in the gathering crowd. With what kind salutations do they greet each other! With what simplicity have they adorned themselves! What a charming contrast between the surrounding verdure and the white robes of the female youth, alike emblematical of unsullied innocence presumed to exist at that period of life, and of the flowing vestures in which the righteous are represented, in their glorified state, to surround the throne of God! Such an election of vestments is a matter of philosophy as well as of good taste. Not absorbing the sun's rays, like black, they of course are much cooler; and they may be supposed to denote those personal ablutions particularly needful after six days' exposure to the dust when freely perspiring, as all will perspire in labor under a summer sun. For these reasons, as well as for their appropriateness in a religious view, it is a paradox that this subject is so little appreciated. In the church, appropriate neatness of costume is a virtue tending to piety itself; whereas, a gaudy and fantastic display of dress and ornament is in bad taste, originating in pride, and tending to the desecration of the forms of religion.
Religious Influences, Cont. However, it is not designed to discuss this subject here. Another one alluded to deserves further consideration in speaking of the religious influences in the country― it is the grouping of families, each family by itself, especially on Sunday. There is around the fireside and the household altar, in these well-defined associations, a melting pathos that cannot fail of touching the heart of the beholder. There is in the relations between parents and children, and all of the same household, a social chord which cannot be touched without sending its vibrations to every human bosom. In all well-organized communities we see much to admire, especially authority and submission, like the different shades of the landscape, so blended into each other that it is difficult to define where either terminates and the other begins. But in the family circle, where authority and submission are modified and made sacred by the laws of consanguinity, where the one and the other is exercised in love, like that which binds divinity and humanity in common fellowship, where all enjoy one inheritance and are bound together by one instinct, we should be wanting in the most precious sensibilities of our nature were we to prescribe limits to our admiration and homage. So deeply engraven on the heart of man are the principles that govern us in estimating this subject, that we gaze with unmeasured delight even on analogous alliances grouped together in the brute creation. Who can fail to experience pleasure on beholding, in all the grades of this creation, the parent with her progeny following their respective instincts, till the latter ceases to need the protection of the former? Who can feel no interest in the feathered songsters of the forest, watching over and feeding their little responsibilities, if possible with more than human assiduity? Who can feel no interest in beholding the female grunter imparting nourishment to her sleek and portly young? And, if the ever faithful barnyard fowl, with her sprightly retinue, is made by the inspired writer an emblem of social fidelity, it surely is not beneath our dignity or the dignity of our subject that we make kindred allusions.
Religious Influences, Cont. Nevertheless, it is on occasions to which we have alluded that the family group appears in more than ordinary loveliness. As with all others in the Christian temple, all the members of the household lay aside all distinctions of ago, of authority, and of rank; and among the most ardent of their aspirations is the one that they may most faithfully and at all times perform the corresponding duties which originate in the family relation. Can parents thus unite in these hallowed services and experience no increased feeling of responsibility for a due regard to the welfare of those by nature and religion made dependent on them? And can children thus unite in them without being the more impressed with their own duties for love and filial submission? And when on their way homewards, and when again collected in their own domicil, does not the passion of love burn with a flame more pure and effulgent than before? And do not fresh smiles and caresses, as if from the inspiration of heaven, reciprocally cheer each other till lulled to midnight rest and repose? Where else can the joint members of the household thus adorn themselves with this social garniture? Where else can they seek for these renewed and invigorated social instincts― a panoply that, like the mantle of divine mercy, will never wax old nor decay?
Religious Influences, Cont. Hence, if we would maintain the excellency of the family relation in all its purity and vigor, let the family, on all convenient occasions, and especially in the house of God, and on the way to and from that sacred place, maintain its distinctive position. An army moving forward to conflict admits of no promiscuous concourse; its beauty and its grandeur depend on each company or portion of it remaining distinct and in its own place, so that there may be no confusion or disorder. Let a well- disciplined and arranged martial band be contrasted with one of tumultuous formation, and how forcibly will our subject be illustrate! As a well-organized corps appears, viewed in relation to its minor organizations, both in is marching and countermarching, as well as when stationary under the review of its commanding general, so let families, on their way to the Christian temple, when there engaged in its divine services, and also on their way homeward, preserve their own associate character in unbroken order. Let families― ten or twenty― be well grouped, each succeeding another, at a discernible distance from each other, as the several companies of a regiment advance, and who can say there is no beauty in going, like the tribes of ancient Israel, to the courts of the Lord?
Analyzing the Article This essay by Reverend John Blake shows the extent to which religion controlled daily life. Almost everything about the home environment could be related back to a religious source, which is just what Blake does in his article. The first paragraph of the previous passage describes an ideal Sunday morning. The article lauds this peaceful scene as being the greatest humans can hope to achieve- it represents the extent to which people cherished and valued their beliefs. Nature, piety, and spirituality appear as “beauty,” “loveliness,” and “innocence,” while those who would disrupt righteousness by wearing “gaudy” outfits that cause pride tend “to the desecration of the forms of religion.” Next, Rev. Blake compares the glory of the religious setting in the first paragraph to a familial situation. He proceeds to note that the authority and submission involved in families “is exercised in love, like that which binds divinity and humanity in common fellowship.” In the third and fourth paragraphs, all connections are made clear. In a Christian home, people should be able to put aside their mortal wants and sins. Rev. Blake says that a family with a strong loving bond to each other appreciate the Divine more, and are better suited to praise and worship in love. If each member of the family upholds his or her duties, then it will march on in “purity and vigor,” “beauty and… grandeur.” In short, the essay communicates that a household forged and raised in love and respect are able to worship in love and respect, because the bond between parent and child is so alike to the bond between God and humanity. Because the religious lesson and the parenting lesson are intertwined, Godey was able to use this article to his magazine’s advantage. Religion in the Home Environment
Crisis of Faith Religion had such an impact on daily life in the nineteenth century that people felt utterly lost without it. For example, Samuel Griswold Goodrich, an American author, wrote in his autobiography, Recollections of a Lifetime: “Ah, how impossible to paint the dark, drear horizon of the mind when it has put out the light of faith: extinguished even the star of hope! The world from that moment became to me a fearful enigma: all its harmony was gone: existence was a nightmare, heaven a fathomless abyss, earth an incomprehensible mystery… Man alone seemed created to live in doubt, and to perish in disappointment. The inferior things of earth were perfect; the conscious lord of creation was a stupendous blunder! Thus seemed the universe; thus seemed man, without God--without religion.” (Goodrich, 423) People who lose their faith in modern times go through similar feelings, no doubt. However, in a society that bases most of its points of view on religion, non- belief left many people feeling stranded. Nineteenth Century Disbelief
Thy Kingdom Come… In the nineteenth century, religion controlled America’s population. What they wore, what they ate, and what they could and could not do were all based on their religious convictions. More surprising is the sheer amount of religious icons, articles, and pictures to be found in the popular magazines of the time. In a society that now tries to remain secular in such venues, it shocks me to find that we used to be very forthcoming with our beliefs. Perhaps one day, we can regain respect for our faiths. And I Am Done
Works Cited Goodrich, Samuel. "Letter XXVI." Recollections of a Lifetime 2(1856) Sept Marsden, George. "The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief." The Journal of Religion July Sept Briczinski, Paul. "Louis Antoine Godey." The Pennsylvania Center for the Book. 10 Oct 2007.