Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Blake, whose later works belie easy identification with any religious system, has been cautiously interpreted as a Gnostic Christian. However, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, an early work, would seem to fit such a label. The very title indicates a quest for mystical unity capable of transcending the apparent dualism of the body and soul, physical and metaphysical worlds. Also, his identification with the devils in the work conforms to the Gnostic belief that a demiurge rather than the transcendent godhead was responsible for creating the material world.

In the work’s second “Memorable Fancy,” Blake “dines” with Ezekial and Isaiah, who sound more like Gnostic seekers than Old Testament prophets. When Blake asks them to explain how God spoke to them, the latter responds: “I saw no God, nor heard any, in a finite organical perception; but my senses discover’d the infinite in everything, and as I was then persuaded, and remain confirm’d, that the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God, I cared not for consequences, but wrote.”

The section ends with a famous epigram later borrowed by Aldous Huxley for the title of his influential book on hallucinatory mescaline and then adopted by the 1960’s rock group The Doors:If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.


(The entire section is 405 words.)