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Moby Dick Chapter 8 The Pulpit 
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Post Moby Dick Chapter 8 The Pulpit
This chapter and the next one, the Sermon, continue the religious theme.

There is an element of absurdity in having the preacher, Father Mapple, ascend to the pulpit by climbing a rope ladder. This seems to be partly the reason for his popularity among the sailors, reflecting the utility of shipboard compactness. The ladder illustrates that the church focuses on lofty ideals which are well above mundane concerns.

I couldn't tell if Melville was serious or sarcastic in saying the pulpit leads the world. There seems to be some bitter irony in this placement of religion at the prow of culture, given that the church is so backward in its views. The church sometimes presents itself as full of pioneering ideas and courageous vision, when in fact it works resolutely to avoid thinking, and just provides emotional comfort through farcical fantasy, as in the myth of the afterlife.

Chapter Link: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2701/270 ... m#2HCH0008


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Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:57 am
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 8 The Pulpit
I'm sure Melville's thoughts on religion and his own religious nature don't break down along simple lines. 'Conflicted' seems to describe him regarding that topic. About the rev. climbing the rope ladder to the pulpit, whatever symbolism there may be, I again am surprised at how I missed the fun of this book when I first read it. Melville creates a slightly skewed, zany place in New Bedford, but it's one that the reader readily accepts.

I can't see any satire, though, in these three chapters that cover what would have been a prominent part of the community, the church. I had speculated that we'd get Old Testament religion in the book, and indeed we see not a trace of the Christian in Mapple's sermon, just the Judaeo. I sometimes have enjoyed listening to sermons, even though God is not my thing. Sermons are partly performance, and they also can contain a lot of truth within their context of belief. Mapple's is a very good performance, and whether or not we frame the human dilemma in religious terms, we might see something in Mapple's commandment that we must disobey ourselves in order to obey God. There is another voice that we need to listen to, besides the one that directs us to follow our most selfish desires, whatever we conceive its origin to be.

I glanced at a piece of criticism stating that Captain Ahab stands Mapple's prescription on its head, and that this accounts for Ahab's destruction and makes of him a negative moral example. Ahab goes on an obsessive, selfish quest to revenge himself on the Whale. I just mention that; it's too cut-and-dried to be satisfying for me.

So sorry, I realized that I jumped to the next chapter, "The Sermon." These chapters, being so short, don't all lend themselves that well to separate threads.



Last edited by DWill on Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:22 am
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 8 The Pulpit
What could be more full of meaning?- for the pulpit is ever this earth's foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God's quick wrath is first descried, and the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world's a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.

This last paragraph is almost like poetry. In those days, without Television, Radio or Newspapers, I suppose the Pulpit was the earth's foremost part. It would have been where the ideas came from. People would go home from Church on Sundays, having heard the Sermon from the Pulpit and they would have debated what they had heard there.

It would have been influencial in peoples' thinking. It would have influenced how we thought about ourselves. It would have been our Cosmic Consciousness.

We are now influenced by what we view on TV. It becomes how we perceive ourselves. If we watch soap operas wherein the characters are all at odds with one another....we begin to think that is how life is. We identify and think that conflict is what makes us real.

Instead we should be taught that peace, tranquility, love and contentment are OK...ambitions. We don't really need drama. Drama is for soap opera characters...not real.

I think what I am trying to say is that the Television is our Pulpit in this day and age. If you exchange the word 'television', into Melville's word 'pulpit', you get...

for the television is ever this earth's foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the television leads the world.

I am thinking about the competitiveness that the TV invokes, as in 'The Apprentice'; and the behaviour and manners invoked through 'Big Brother'. We don't have to behave in the way these programmes suggest to our suggestible minds.


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Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:56 am
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 8 The Pulpit
Penelope wrote:
What could be more full of meaning?- for the pulpit is ever this earth's foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God's quick wrath is first descried, and the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world's a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.

This last paragraph is almost like poetry.

I think what I am trying to say is that the Television is our Pulpit in this day and age. If you exchange the word 'television', into Melville's word 'pulpit', you get...

I agree there is lots of poetry in Melville's writing. On your point about TV, my reading of these chapters is that the world of seamanship and ships was blended with the Church world, the chapel and the pulpit, blurry lines about who's who, and given the threat to life and limb of whaling, the matter of 'eternity' clearly unites the two. Now that TV (as a technology) is really on its way out, what will be our next 'pulpit' (assuming we don't collectively rediscover the original one)? I heard today that you can buy glasses that connect to the internet and allow you to surf while walking down the street ... or drive? or sit in Church? or .. other stuff? where is this going?



Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:29 am
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 8 The Pulpit
Quote:
giselle wrote:

the world of seamanship and ships was blended with the Church world, the chapel and the pulpit,


Oh, well spotted giselle, I hadn't thought of that. A magnificent hymn goes:

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!


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Only those become weary of angling who bring nothing to it but the idea of catching fish.

He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

Rafael Sabatini


Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:10 pm
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