Thoreau's Journal: 03-May-1857

Up and down the town, men and boys that are under subjection are polishing their shoes and brushing their go-to-meeting clothes. I, a descendant of Northmen who worshipped Thor, spend my time worshipping neither Thor nor Christ; a descendant of Northmen who sacrificed men and horses, sacrifice neither men nor horses. I care not for Thor nor for the Jews. I sympathize not to-day with those who go to church in newest clothes and sit quietly in straight-backed pews. I sympathize rather with the boy who has none to look after him, who borrows a boat and a paddle and in common clothes sets out to explore these temporary vernal lakes. I meet such a boy paddling along under a sunny bank, with bare feet and his pants rolled up to his knees, ready to leap into the water at a moment’s warning. Better for him to read “Robinson Crusoe” than Baxter’s “Saints’ Rest.”


slskenyon said...

I like how he puts this--the idea that "religion" is first, a personal experience, and second, something that must be found--sought, and can be found in nature. Most great thinkers who had any semblence of personal "faith" did not agree with sitting in a church to find himself. I am glad to see Thoreau was among them.

ControlThis said...

No doubt he would see Crusoe as a sort of biographic parallel, validating his own solitary search for God.

If you have little affection for people, it's unlikely you'd find signs of God in them. Church isn't for everybody, that's for sure.

I was worried for that barefoot boy's safety. Alone while everybody else is at church. There's bad preachers everywhere. Huck never got molested, did he?