[Milton-L] Re: human dignity

Jason Kerr aelfric at gmail.com
Fri Jul 28 17:54:29 EDT 2006

With all respect to Alan Horn, I did not mean to suggest that we all needed
to set aside our Christian beliefs in order to understand an un-Christian
Milton. I think it's safe to say the author of PL, PR, and DDC was Christian
(what precisely "Christian" means in his case is another matter). Rather, I
believe that participation in American society demands a relationship to
Christianity, a relationship that can be characterized in many ways, ranging
from embrace to indifference to repudiation. For better or for worse, I
don't think our society leaves much room for abstention on this issue. Our
politics are just too infused with it.

Perhaps the confusion arose from my use of the word "belief" to encompass
this range of responses. All are beliefs of one sort or another, but I
acknowledge that "belief" tends to imply an embrace of the Christian faith.
I apologize for the lack of clarity.

Milton had the chutzpah throughout his career to take on a wide range of
issues that were important and controversial then and continue to be so
today (witness the present discussion). The humility I wrote of runs
parallel to Michael Bryson's and Steve Fallon's concurrence that so-called
Milton evangelism ought to be avoided. The converse is also true: just as
modern Christians need to abstain from confusing "God" with "Milton's God,"
other moderns need to distinguish between "the Christian God" (however they
may understand it) and "Milton's God." The task for all of us, whatever our
beliefs, is to lay aside whatever personal stake we have (or don't have) in
the issues Milton took up and try to understand what was at stake for him.

Now I do not, I hope, have the chutzpah to accuse anyone on this list,
except myself, of failing to live up to what I realize is a very tall order.
I am a graduate student, a redshirt freshman among Miltonists, and I confess
freely my own difficulties on this issue. However, it seems, at least to me,
that some posters have implied that others are also experiencing
difficulties on this point. In saying what I attempted in my earlier post,
and have hopefully clarified here, I am only trying to put the issue out in
the open so that we, Areopagitica-style, can sort out the good and the bad
of it (and exchange practical advice). If this is chutzpah, please forgive
me; I did not intend it to be so.

Thanks again to all for a lively and fascinating discussion.

All the best,
Jason A. Kerr

"Den som vover mister Fodfæste et Øieblick;
den som ikke vover mister Livet."
                                    -Søren Kierkegaard
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