Throughout the centuries Christianity provided consolation and religious moorages to 1000000s of people who found populating in G-d’s image fulfilling. In the Southern American slaveholding provinces in the nineteenth century. Christianity the dominant faith. was meant to be a moral compass and add lucidity of intent to one’s life. Slaves did non see Christianity as a faith advancing good workss. In Frederick Douglass’ Narrative. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. he puts away the thesis that Christian slave proprietors espoused values of generousness.
clemency. and moral erectness. which were non applied to their ain slaves. In other words these Christians had a dual criterion when using their spiritual values. Though Douglass himself became a spiritual adult male once he escaped bondage. he believed that one could non believe in both Christianity and bondage at the same clip. Douglass observed that bondage in the South destroyed and transformed Christian values. and created merciless Masterss. In what follows I demonstrate that Douglass believes that Southern Christian values are influenced and corrupted by the societal values of the times.
which leads to spiritual lip service.
In the appendix to his narrative Douglass distinguishes between two different types of Christianity. “Christianity of Christ” and “Christianity of this land. ” ( 147 ) . “Christianity of Christ” reflects a God fearing Christian. who treats all people every bit and mercifully. where as “Christianity of this land” refers to the exclusions in moral tenet made when applied to slaves in the South. Douglass juxtaposes both signifiers of Christianity to convey the implicit in lip service of the ointment proprietors. The concluding consequence is non merely a spiritual or traditionally Christian expounding of the immoralities of human bondage. but a blazing political statement about how ideals can be easy corrupted to suit the opinion category. An illustration of this transmutation from “Christianity of Christ” to the “Christianity of the land” is the drastic metabolism of Sophia Auld. When Douglass arrives in her service. he is shocked by how good his new Mistress is handling him. and is everlastingly thankful for the fatal error she made in learning him how to read. Douglass describes her as a adult female with “heavenly smilings. and her voice of placid music. ” ( 55 ) therefore confering upon her angel like qualities.
After being rebuked by her hubby for holding taught the immature slave how to read. her transition is about eldritch. Suddenly the angel in Douglass’ life takes a malicious bend. He describes how her “cheerful oculus. under the influence of bondage. shortly became ruddy with fury ; that voice made all of sweet agreement. changed to one harsh and horrid strife ; and that beatific face gave topographic point to that of a devil ( 56 ) . With the debut to what bondage truly was. her Christian beliefs displacement from what Douglass considers true Christian rules. to the Christian rules of her clip and her land. Her good natured Christian values of assisting those who are less fortunate. drastically revert to malevolence. motivating Douglass to modify his comparing of his Mistress from an angel into a Satan. Douglass subsequently expresses how Mrs. Auld shortly became “even more violent in her resistance than her hubby himself” ( 56 ) . This former slave mourns her soul’s mutiny of the true Christian values. and uses his old Mistress. Sophia Auld. as his enduring illustration of how bondage influenced one’s behaviour. Douglass’ narrative depicts other cases where Christian values and bondage seem at odds. Douglass describes his maestro Captain Thomas Auld as a “slave holder without the ability to keep slaves” ( 79 ) . because he was a weak proprietor. who enjoyed the ferociousness of floging a slave. but did non hold the house control and power of a maestro.
Interestingly. when he attended a Methodist cantonment run intoing his slaves hoped that his better apprehension of the Bible would play in their behalf. and gave his slaves “faint hope that this transition would take him to liberate his slaves. ” ( 80 ) or would at least “make him more sort and humane” ( 81 ) . Quite the opposite took topographic point – Captain Auld seemed to happen cogent evidence in the Bible which supported his corruption. In malice of the instructions of good will that Christianity promotes. bondage seemed to be exempt from these guidelines. turn outing Douglass’ thought of Southern Christian lip service. As farther cogent evidence Douglass tells a narrative: while Captain Auld whipped his halt slave Henny. he would declaim a specific line from Bible: “He that knoweth his master’s will. and doeth it non. shall be beaten with many stripes’’ ( 81 ) . This transition from Bible doesn’t to warrant force as a method of censuring slaves. nevertheless. since those ideals were applicable to slavery. it was used as godly cogent evidence. formalizing his ugly actions. Mr. Covey was besides guilty of flexing Christian values in order to warrant his intervention of slaves. Covey’s ill-famed repute is for “breaking slaves” and in making so he has mastered the art of misrepresentation.
Though Covey was a devout Christian he excessively became a merchandise of his environment and allowed the immoral societal values of his clip to leach into his spiritual rules. Douglass explains how “everything he possessed in the form of larning or faith. he made conform to his temperament to lead on. ” ( 88 ) . Covey was the ultimate illustration of Southern Christian lip service to Douglass. Though he considered himself a really god-fearing Christian. he was “guilty of obliging his adult female slave to perpetrate the wickedness of adultery” ( 89 ) . an act which was forbidden by both societal and spiritual tenet. Douglass finally believed that Covey “deceived himself into the grave belief. that he was a sincere believer of the most high God. ” ( 89 ) . Douglass is puzzled by the paradox of Covey’s behaviour. On one manus. Covey works the land himself and understands the physical adversities this entails.
On the other manus he displays consistent inhuman treatment toward his rented slaves. even surpassing their ain Masterss ferociousness. Therefore Covey is an first-class illustration of Douglass’ impression: in the South during the nineteenth century even devout Christians did non use their righteous and moral values to their intervention of black slaves. The spiritual determined belief in kindness. clemency. and good will did non look pertinent in the context of bondage. In decision. it is clear that Douglass believes that the Christian patterns upheld by Southern slave owners are hypocritical. Douglass uses the appendix of his narrative to clear up his ain Christian ideals that merely stress the disparity in the Christian tenet as the Bible proselytizes and the 1s he was subjected to in his yearss as a slave. However. the differentiation between the two sets of Christian values is rather clear. and that both types of Christian values can non be at the same clip. Overall Religion is at the nucleus of Douglas’ narrative and he concludes that moral and Christian values can be corrupted by the prevailing political and societal norms of a coevals. a historical lesson valuable throughout clip.
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