Review of 2016

A New Year, A New Self, A New Politics

Thank you to everyone who’s followed the posts this year, left comments, suggested ideas, and supported thehumandivine project in its first year. Over the last twelve months we’ve posted a new blog each week, covering everything from Kabbalah and Brexit to neuroscience and the sexuality of God – all united by an approach rooted in William Blake’s imaginative and radical take on God. We hope this will be a useful resource for anyone wanting to explore Blake’s alternative vision and its relevance for today.

blake7-xmas-1But in 2017 thehumandivine is changing! From January the site is going to develop in new and exciting ways: instead of weekly articles there’ll be more in-depth monthly posts exploring key passages from the Bible (Book of Job, Ezekiel, etc) from a radical Blakean perspective, to help illuminate them and also to suggest their relevance to what’s happening today, and how these narratives and thought systems continue to shape both our inner and outer lives.

Blake read the Bible not as “the word of God” to be followed literally but as a profound record of the psychological evolution of humanity – its terrifying psychic splits and dissections, its self-alienation and state of “exile”, its fall into “division”, its capacity for forgiveness, and its longing for integration and wholeness.

We’re also hoping to develop the themes of the website in practical ways: there are plans to organise a conference next summer to explore the implications of Blake for contemporary theology and to see if the Church can be shifted more in a Blakean direction. The theme of the conference will be Blake’s observation: “The Vision of Christ that thou dost see Is my Vision’s Greatest Enemy” – and what he means by this. Watch this space!

 

Here’s a selection of some of the highlights from 2016:

tumblr_inline_mn9yw5yacg1qz4rgpNICK CAVE: The Flesh Made Word: A Poetic Interpretation

1-brexit-1ROD TWEEDY: William Blake, Brexit and the Re-Awakening of Albion

this-screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-22-12-40IAIN McGILCHRIST: William Blake and the Divided Brain

558386_440269706046483_367614937_nSHAMS TABRIZI: The 40 Rules of Love

ecstasy-1PETER ANDERSON: Poetry & Madness: Blake, Eigen & the Psychotic God

blake-a1-1-bigCHRISTOPHER Z. HOBSON: Anarchism and William Blake’s Idea of Jesus

image142-1ERIC PYLE: Blake’s Illustrations of Dante’s Hell

The Ghost of a Flea c.1819-20 by William Blake 1757-1827E.M. NOTENBOOM: From Hell: Alan Moore and William Blake

milton_pic-1ANDREI BURKE: The Secret World and Sexual Rebellion of William Blake

theatre2-jpeg-3SUSANNE M. SKLAR: Blake’s Jerusalem as Visionary Theatre

 

Happy Christmas!!

 

The Genius of Blake, by Philip Pullman

Keeping the Divine Vision in Time of Trouble

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There was no one like William Blake. There had been no one like him before and there has been no one like him since. He’s unique not only among English poets but among writers and artists from anywhere in the world. Poets and critics of his own time were unsure whether he was mad; Wordsworth thought he undoubtedly was but said there was something in Blake’s madness that interested him more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott.

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William Blake and the Divided Brain, by Iain McGilchrist

The Infinite Brain and the Narrow Circle

The Blake Society Annual Lecture was this year given by Iain McGilchrist, whose remarkable book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World is widely regarded as one of the most important texts of the twenty-first century.

His extraordinary talk on William Blake shows how a profound understanding of contemporary neuroscience and hemispheric difference can illuminate and reveal hidden dimensions of Blake’s thought, a writer and thinker so at home with contraries, asymmetries, and the deep processes of the human brain. It is quite simply the best talk on Blake that has ever been given or is ever likely to be given. Prepare to have your hemispheres altered!

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The Political Meaning of the Nativity, by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan

The Longing for Peace and Liberation from Contemporary Domination Systems

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Because of the importance of Christmas, how we understand the stories of Jesus’s birth matters. What we think they’re about – how we hear them, read them, interpret them – matters. They are often sentimentalised. And, of course, there is emotional power in them. But the stories of Jesus’s birth are more than sentimental. The stories of the first Christmas are both personal and political. They speak of personal and political transformation. Set in the first-century context, they are comprehensive and passionate visions of another way of seeing life and of living our lives.

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“they are about a different way of seeing”

They challenge the common life, the status quo, of most times and places. Even as they are tidings of comfort and joy, they are edgy and challenging. They confront “normalcy”, what we call “the normalcy of civilisation” – the way most societies, most human cultures, have been and are organised. The personal and political meanings can be distinguished but not separated without betraying one or the other. They are about us – our hopes and fears. And they are about a different kind of world. God’s dream for us is not simply peace of mind, but peace on earth.

 

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