Spirited Hearts by Stephen Muse

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Spirited Hearts

Stephen Muse on Why Men Without Chests Are Not Free & Do Not Love

William Blake once asked a companion what he saw when he looked at the sun. His friend replied, "I see a yellow orb, approximately such-and-such a shape and distance from the earth." Blake responded something like, "I see the Hosts of Heaven coming on chariots of fire proclaiming 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Art Thou O Lord!'" Did the two men see the same sun? Or were they just talking about it differently? And what does it really matter?

C. S Lewis, in The Abolition of Man, describes a textbook used to teach the ways of the King's English to British youth. He points out a subtle philosophical sleight-of-hand that the author hid behind the guise of teaching boys rhetoric. An example was given of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was visiting a waterfall with two tourists. One called the waterfall "sublime" while the other said it was "pretty." Coleridge endorsed the first judgment and rejected the second with disgust. The textbook author used this incident to teach that when the one man said, "This is sublime," he only appeared to be making a remark about the waterfall. Actually, his remark was not about the waterfall at all, but only about his own emotions in response to it.

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Stephen Muse is a pastoral psychotherapist and deacon serving in the Greek Orthodox Church. His most recent books are When Hearts Become Flame and Being Bread (Orthodox Research Institute Press). The Peddler and the Disenchanted Mirror is currently in press with Parrisia Editions.

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