Sunday, April 25, 2010

Harold Bloom's American religion

Harold Bloom's The American Religion suggests that the dominant religion in the United States is not Christianity, but Gnosticism. It has, he believes, three fundamental principles:

The first is that what is best and oldest in us goes back well before Creation, and so is no part of Creation. The second is that what makes us free is knowledge, a history of facts and events, rather than a belief founded upon mere assent. The third is that this freedom has a solitary element in it, an element imbued by the loneliness of belated American time, and the American experience of the abyss of space. What holds these principles together is the American persuasion, however muted or obscured, that we are mortal gods, destined to find ourselves again in worlds as yet undiscovered.


This is powerfully resonant of the boy and his fire in The Road, of Ed Tom's dream in No Country, of John Grady's and Billy Parham's restlessness in the trilogy. And also, perhaps, of Huck Finn? It's in the blood.

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