George Bush

No, not that one. There is an under-appreciated connexion between the Islam that must have been floating around various circles in nineteenth-century America and Mormonism, I think, but I wonder what effect it had on the foremost American Hebraist, and the author of the first American biography of the prophet Muhammad. Studying both the Tanakh and the Koran seems to have turned the originally rational George Bush--for 'twas he, in the mid nineteenth century--into something of an occultist. He converted to Swedenborgianism and Mesmerism. Here're some of his papers for the mid-nineteenth century scholars amongst you (you know who you are).

There you are. George Bush, Mesmerist and Occultist. Just, well, not that one, before conservative cabbie strikes me off his blogroll. To be fair, I have mentioned him before.

I'm fascinated by the religions that America created. To an extent, American Catholicism is a thing built by Bishops and synthesis, but because the Bishops owned the churches rather than lay committees, I guess that it avoided becoming a sort of Voodoo pose, outside of Joan Walsh and Martha Coakley's heads. That the Church there is currently being eaten by lawyers because of the way the monumental horror of paedophilia was covered over grieves me, somewhat--I feel that I have to write that.

Still, one day, I would have liked to have written a comparison of the relationship of faith and the narcissism of the American creed. Mormonism, the Nation of Islam, and the sort of Renaissance-style Catholicism that could include both McCarthy, Kennedy, Fulton Sheen, and William Buckley would do for a start.

You look at the Irish in Ireland, and you sometimes think of Jansenism; you look at people from the same pool in America, and you see Innocent X staring out at his mistresses and Irish arms sales. I like Innocent X, by the way. Fantastic Pope, top hole. That's him in Reni's picture at the top of the blog, being trampled by St Michael just like Satan is in that sculpture on the way to Harlem, I think outside the episcopalian cathedral of St John the Divine. Now there's a work of art, so nutty that if it were a woman I'd be attracted. I remember looking at it one cold morning long ago. It has DNA, giraffes, and a peace plaque built in too.

It's pleasant to come across papers like the ones above, and the connections that they inspire in the mind. Isn't the internet a great thing? Well, I write great. If you type in 'Jansenism', you get wikipedia, a bunch of holocaust-denying fascists disguised as some mutation of the Church, and an invented country that sounds suspiciously like a Begonia. Begonias are partly named after 'Le Grand Begon', a former Governor of Haiti.

Swedenborgianism, by the way, was all the rage at one point in New England. Like many American religions, it regenerated and rebuilt an old idea, in this case amilleniallism, and held that the Last Judgment had already happened, on the spiritual plane. In consequence, it was the New Church, and the embodiment of Christ reborn. I think that Augustine and St Thomas, at least, musing on how time must not have been a constraint to God but how the Christ event changed everything before or after instantaneously must have come close to it. But, well, shorn of the whacky Mesmerists, it just doesn't compare to Rome.

My girlfriend is away this weekend. I have been eating Scotch Beef burgers, charred on the outside but otherwise very rare, sunk a few beers, watched The Shield, given tutorials on the conflict of laws and Tort limitation periods, and used the washing machine. If she doesn't come back soon, I will be writing more blogs like this. You've been warned.

Here's Richard Nixon on the piano. The joke he cracks, by the way, is a passive aggressive dig at Harry Truman, who hated him back.


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