You know, one of the things I teach is the neo-Platonic end of Christian Humanism, as it appears at that transition between the Renaissance and the Early Modern. One of the assumptions that those folks make is that things in nature, as well as in human events, are signs of God's intent. A beautiful text by Sir Thomas Browne calls nature God's "hieroglyph," and he sets out to read the hieroglyph in order to uncover the meaning of events. As he says, he loves to lose himself in a mystery because, he says, it is a sweeter piece of reason than the materialist kind of knowledge that occupies him as he is a physician. So, he says, if you "read" the fact that the Spanish Armada in 1588 was destroyed by a storm, it's obvious that it's a sign that God favors Protestant England. A similar sort of thing happens in the diary of Samuel Sewall, one of the leaders in the second generation of the Mass Bay Colony. He tells of one afternoon when he, Cotton Mather, and others, were sitting in his house, and a great thunder storm comes up. After the storm they notice that the thunder seems to have struck more houses of ministers than of other citizens, and so they wonder what God intends by that sign.

These folks who say these incredibly stupid things about the murders at the school, or about the hurricane striking NY and NJ, and so on--those folks belong in 1600.


Edited by yoyo52 (12/17/12 08:10 PM)
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MACTECH ubi dolor ibi digitus