October 23, 2008

Why Loving the World is a Waste of Time It is not enough to say that we have love. Many would-be reformers of society have claimed a great love for humanity, but their lives tell a different story. Take, for example, the great nineteenth century English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley believed that poets were the “unacknowledged legislators of the world” and that poetry could “push forward the moral progress of civilization.” His poetry lived up to his own high expectations of the art, and most of his works were highly moral and political. He wrote of an uprising against oppression, of the freedom and equality of all human beings, and he imagined a mythical being “leading humanity to utopia on earth.” He called his readers “to join him in his righteous utopia.” Shelley’s personal life, however, was littered with the casualties of the men and women who loved him but whom he eventually destroyed. He was estranged from both parents and his first marriage lasted only three years (producing two children) before he left his wife for another woman. After marrying his mistress, he had other sexual affairs, abandoned an illegitimate child, left his debts unpaid, and fleeced friends and family members for money. In his sobering work, Intellectuals, Paul Johnson writes that Shelley was “capable of feeling for, in the abstract, the whole of suffering humanity, yet finding it manifestly impossible, not once but scores, hundreds of times, to penetrate imaginatively the minds and hearts of all those people with whom he had daily dealings.” Johnson is a fan of Shelley’s poetry, but he summarizes Shelley’s life in this way: "Shelley [was] astonishingly single-minded in the pursuit of his ideals but ruthless and even brutal in disposing of anyone who got in his way. Like Rousseau, he loved humanity in general but was often cruel to human...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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