Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
Excerpt from November Boughs: "Strange as it may sound, Shakespeare and George Fox (think of them! compare them!) were born and bred of similar stock, in much the same surroundings and station in life - from the same England - and at a similar period." Mulling over this observation of Whitman's, I think on their lack of formal education - Shakespeare had "little Latin, less Greek" after all. Both used language in ways that seem to defy formal conventions but yet with considerable power, albeit in very different ways.
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I don't know enough Shakespeare to judge, but I can say that I have hungered to know what George Fox spoke and wrote about. Sometime in the 1980s I had the opportunity to sit in on a few of Richard Foster's classes he was teaching at Friends University. In one particular session where they were studying Fox's Journal, one of the students asked, "Do we have to believe this stuff?" After some moments of reflection Foster answered, "No." I will never know the nuances of deliberation that went into those moments of reflection to arrive at that answer. But for me, that answer was a wasted opportunity. Once you turn aside from believing "that stuff" you lose the benefit of what Fox had to say. You side-step the question of "was Fox sent by God with the commission he stated or not?" If he was sent by God, was he faithful in that commission? If he was sent by God, and if he was faithful then what does that do to all the "stuff" I do believe.
I have never made Shakespeare an object of study, other than the obligatory Literature classes inflicted on students who would much rather be doing math and science stuff. But I do know there are people who get caught up in the power of Shakespeare's use of language. Is this a case of "feeding on words?" I don't know which of the two, Fox or Shakespeare, would come out ahead in regard to the number of words written, but I find substance behind what Fox wrote and Fox directs his readers to feed on the substance. That can only happen if you "believe that stuff."