Sunday, April 3, 2011

A message from Charlotte Bronte

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.

These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is--I repeat it--a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.

The world may not like to see these ideas dissevered, for it has been accustomed to blend them; finding it convenient to make external show pass for sterling worth--to let white-washed walls vouch for clean shrines. It may hate him who dares to scrutinise and expose--to rase the gilding, and show base metal under it--to penetrate the sepulchre, and reveal charnel relics: but hate as it will, it is indebted to him.


  1. Sorry to tell you this, Neal, but you've lost me on this one. I've read it several times and still don't get it.

    But thanks for introducing me to Eli Lieb. That young man is crazy talented. His voice is beautiful, and he's not bad to look at either. Looks like he's making a go of it, on his own terms, but he doesn't have an album out yet. Just a matter of time. He's amazing--no other word for it.

  2. Rick - I just started reading Jane Eyre. This is included in the 'letter to the reader' from Emily Bronte in the second edition. It is perhaps the most powerful writing that I have read in months - concise, and biting, and clear in its intention.

    In having been outed to church just recently, and always being reminded by some of my friends that I no longer attend a church, I read this and felt as though her message, 150 years old, outlines a moral reality that so many people are struggling with now. And it highlights the potential void of morality in the church - in its propensity to hate and prejudge.

    As I am finding out more details from my friend that outed me in her defence of gay people at my church, I am finding out some of the things that were said about gay people. And it has bothered me, because I am hearing them from people that I respected (and still do, to some degree) for their ability to love people...

    I don't know if that actually explains why I have posted this. I found it thought-provoking, and valuable in the discussion about the morality of homosexuality (which, as you have stated before, is not a moral issue). The church is not always a source of morality...

  3. First I thought that you had written this, and I was immediately jealous. I am jealous nonetheless. But jealously is a sin: this piece is inspiring. It has touched my soul.