Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Women in the Hands of . . . ?

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I heard that Jonathan Edwards had writings that would be a lamb compared to the lion that was "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" I just had to see for myself. I looked through the Norton and found myself reading Edwards' tribute to Sarah Pierpont, the woman who would become his wife. I'll post an excerpt here for you all:

"They say there is a young lady in [New Haven] who is beloved of that almighty Being . . . [who] comes to her and fills her mind with exceedingly sweet delight, and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him - that she expects after awhile to be received up where he is, to be raised up out of the world and caught up into heaven; being assured that he loves her too well to let her remain at a distance."

~Jonathan Edwards "On Sarah Pierpont"

Well it looks like we found Edwards' soft side. I was pretty shocked to see that the same God who "holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire" could also be expected to sweep a woman off her feet and bring her right on up to heaven! Obviously the intent behind each writing is very different, but I found the way these two pieces contrast against each other to be intriguing. Can we reconcile a God who is so merciless but also so adoring?

Also, from my recent bouts of insomnia, I've been watching way too much reality TV and couldn't help but think of The Bachelor as I was reading this tribute. Bear with me for a minute here . . . "She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness, and universal benevolence of mind. She will sometimes go about, singing sweetly, from place to [place]; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure." Is it just me or does that sound an awful lot like how those in the fog of reality TV view the people they are falling in love with? As if they are perfect creatures with only pure sweetness to offer the world? Just food for thought.


  1. To avoid being a sinner, I can only respond truthfully: It would be nice if all participants on reality television shows of all kinds would be cast into the pit of hell. Forever.

    Edwards, though. What a dog!

    I think--and some of our class discussions have touched on this point--a lot of this has to do with our ways of interpreting the world. Does Edwards believe that his marriage is destiny? Do we believe the same about our relationships? (The latter question, of course, extends Mer Klein's points about The Bachelor.) How do we see the role of (manifest?) destiny in our lives?

    I could push things a bit here to go back to Hegel, who believed that Spirit (his term, not mine) sort-of ran history, causing it to tumble through that thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectic. How did such a thing happen? What was Spirit? No real answers there. Nevertheless, that was his philosophy of history. Thoughts?

  2. It definitely seems like that is what's connecting Edwards' ode to his wife and contestants' feelings for The Bachelor -- that love is destiny.

    On the other hand, if Sarah Pierpont happened to be a "sinful" or provocative woman, perhaps Edwards wouldn't be so willing to sing her praise. Edwards is happily writing of his destined love because Pierpont conforms (morally and religiously) to everything he believes in. (At least that's what I'm guessing).

    Likewise, each contestant on The Bachelor idealizes the bachelor to be perfect - their one true destined love. I think its all a bit delusional to be honest, but I digress

  3. MM, how wonderful to hear from you! Now what's all this about true love being delusional? I don't remember you being so cynical. Is it that critical theory stuff that did it to you?

  4. Of course not! Granted, critical theory has made my brain hurt at times, it has ultimately changed my life for the better!

    Haha, I actually meant that contestants on The Bachelor seem a bit delusional - not love in general.