Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Transcendentalist Quote

From Sermon CLXII "The Lord's Supper" by Ralph Waldo Emerson as printed in Transcendentalism: A Reader, edited by Joel Myerson. Emerson resigned from his ministry with this sermon.

Having recently paid particular attention to this subject, I was led to the conclusion that Jesus did not intend to establish an institution for perpetual observance when he ate the passover with his disciples; and further to the opinion that it is not expedient to celebrate it as we do.

The rest of the sermon is a well-defined logical argument against requiring Holy Communion in the church or with performing it with a sense of authority -- all new to me since I had never thought of the subject before. Some of it relates to High Church and Low Church, although he doesn't use the terms. I learned about those in a couple of classes at Wash U, particularly one that made the case for High Church. Emerson makes the case for Low Church, while granting that those who find meaning in the forms of High Church should continue to participate in them.

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