Walt Whitman continues to impress me as a wildly reasonable (yes, an odd pairing) voice for those who are exploring the wilderness out beyond the supernatural ideologies and theologies of distraction. He is a kind of Freethinker’s Prophet (kind of). Here are a few lines from a remarkable, overlooked or underappreciated section of “Song of Myself” (full text here, stanza 41):
“Magnifying and applying come I, Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters,
Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah, Lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, and Hercules his grandson, Buying drafts of Osiris, Isis, Belus, Brahma, Buddha, In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, the crucifix engraved, With Odin and the hideous-faced Mexitli and every idol and image, Taking them all for what they are worth and not a cent more, Admitting they were alive and did the work of their days, (They bore mites as for unfledg’d birds who have now to rise and fly and sing for themselves), Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better in myself, bestowing them freely on each man and woman I see, Discovering as much or more in a framer framing a house, Putting higher claims for him in there with his roll’d-up sleeves driving the mallet and chisel, Not objecting to special revelations, considering a curl of smoke or a hair on the back of my hand just as curious as any revelation. . .”
and then some of my favorite lines,
“The bull and the bug never worshipp’d half enough, Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream’d, The supernatural of no account, myself waiting my time to be one of the supremes. . .” (not the singers. . .or, maybe?)
Whitman can be a huge help to those who are exiting faith. Anyone who is discovering “other rivers” out beyond the supernatural fictions and fantasies will find in Whitman the most down to earth and “real” wisdom–or at least a good chunk of it.