Wednesday, May 15, 2013

John Donne, A Plurality of Worlds, and Mormonism's Take

As you can see from the last post, I am very interested in looking at Mormon theology's connection with previous thought. In fact, I believe that even the most audacious parts of Mormon theology can be found in much earlier sources. One such source is John Donne's Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, published in 1631. Just to provide some historical context: John Donne is one of the most prominent metaphysical and cavalier poets of the 17th century. Because of his wit in public speaking, he was also the Dean of St. Paul's until his death. Several years before his passing, he found himself gravely ill (probably with typhus), leading him to produce a series of devotions that reflected on the illness of his body, as well as his soul.

This excerpt comes from Donne's Devotion 5. Here, he laments on the solitude of illness and then muses how loneliness is against God's methodologies. Rather, God works to propagate the human race, as in the Garden of Eden, he said that "it was not good for man to be alone." Donne then makes an even bolder statement:

"Men that inhere upon nature only, are so far from thinking that there is any thing singular in this world, as that they will scarce think that this world itself is singular, but that every planet, and every star, is another world like this; they find reason to conceive not only a plurality in every species in the world, but a plurality of worlds; so that the abhorrers of solitude are not solitary, for God, and Nature, and Reason concur against it."

While it is not clear whether or not Donne theologically adhered to a "plurality of worlds," his belief that God's working to propagate the species certainly made him consider this idea. Certainly Mormonism's statement is more bold, as we speak of "worlds without number." But worlds beyond ours is hardly an idea that we can solely claim to our own theology.

No comments:

Post a Comment