21 December 2005

Temper and Mood in Blogging

I have yet to satisfy myself that I have struck the right tone in my writing. Many of the blogs that I otherwise enjoy often adopt an impatient and confrontational aspect that makes me uncomfortable. Perhaps I am archaic, but I think Kant would say that a world of such voices would be an unhappy place, and devoid of pleasant dinner conversation.

Still, there are times when intemperance is appropriate. I recently read Cotton Mather’s sermon, A Man of Reason, in which he argues that “a World of Evil would be prevented in the World, if Men would once become so Reasonable.” Of course, Reason supports Faith in his view, but the argument is well made. And in addressing what he calls “a very unreasonable Thing to put me upon the Proof of this Assertion; Or, demand of me a Reason, why a Man should hearken to Reason,” Mather includes a defense of the sarcastical and satirical response to foolishness:
The Man who does not Hearken to Reason, does the part of a Brute, yea, he does worse than a Brute, that is destitute of Reason. We read of Bruitish Men; and of those who are, Jude 10. As Brute Beasts: Men, who as far as they can, quit the order of Men, & rank themselves with Brutes. Verily, A Man who does not Hearken to Reason, so far Unmans himself; Transforms himself so far into a Brute. It is a Bruitish Thing, to refuse the direction of Reason. A Man who abandons the Rules of Reason in what he does, – Pardon me, wretch, that I miscall’d thee, A Man; I will Recall it – such a Brute is worthy to be addressed with nothing but Sarcasm, and Satyr; Go, Thou Brute, Get a little more Hair, and crawl upon all Four, and come not among the Children of Reason any more.

I believe that this sermon was preached in 1709. It is in the anthology American Sermons.


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