This week in English clsss, we focused a lot on Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance.” The essay is, more or less, an advertisement by Emerson about transcendentalism and, more specifically his own personal spiritual beliefs. It seems that Emerson’s spiritual beliefs are quite different from what many and most people believe today. Emerson felt that for everyone, their “god” was whatever they wanted, because whatever they wanted or felt was valid and correct for the simple reason that they felt or wanted it. It seems rather backwards for a lot of us because, as Orthodox Christians, one of our fundamental practices is self denial when it comes to sins or passions.
Which nicely segways us into our next topic. In “What Is a ‘Selfie?'” Fr. Steven Kostoff discusses everyone’s seeming recent obsession with the self. This recent trend to be completely consumed in oneself seems to branch directly from Emerson’s beliefs. One quotation that I really liked from this article was:
Either the self is grounded and stabilized in God, or it is grounded in “nothing.”
I think this is a really important point. Many people today are too concerned with themselves to even think once about God, who literally loves them to death and only wants the best for them. If your self isn’t based on God, and is based on nothingness, there’s no possible way your self can be the best that it can be. This goes against Emerson’s beliefs that ones self has to be grounded in ones self so that it is valid because you say it is… actually Emerson makes no sense whatsoever when you look at it in this light.
The discussions in class also seem to point to the lack of sense in Emerson’s beliefs. Although it sounds fine at first, looking at it critically and comparing it to other spiritualities and religions shows that it simply can’t lead anywhere good, or even near that.