We are in the season of Easter when we turn our minds to the rebirth of Spring and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And both of these compelling themes can be found commonly is Western literature and the Bible.
For instance Walt Whitman wrote extensively about the physical rebirth of all things dead through both nature and chemistry. In the poem “Song of Self” Whitman tells the reader that after he dies you will find him “under your bootstraps” living in the grasses and the flowers of the field. In the poem entitled “Compost” he writes about the how the actual physical substances of the dead can be found in a lifegiving soil that should make you sick for all the bodies throughout the ages buried in it. He wrote;
Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form’d part of a sick person-
The grass of spring covers the prairies…
The resurrection of wheat appears with pale visage out of it’s graves.
And Whitman goes on to declare, “What chemistry!” marking this as a strictly physical rebirth through the forces of nature and not a spiritual one.
However, there was also the death and rebirth brought about by epiphany as described in the ancient literature of Bible, and it was Jesus that spoke of a spiritual rebirth by being born again “by the Spirit”. This is also a rebirth that follows a kind of a death to oneself when you “deny yourself and take up your cross (an instrument of death} and follow” him. In other words the devotee of Jesus Christ turns away from his old life and is born again through the epiphany of having a sudden change of heart led by the Spirit outside himself, and which is greater than himself. Thus the rebirth for the Christian adherent is a spiritual one and not the physical one which is brought about by natural means which Whitman wrote about, and the actually physical resurrection of the body at the end of the age, according to the teachings of the Bible, is also caused by supernatural means rather than by the natural processes of nature as described by Whitman. Thus, I think Walt Whitman was something akin to a modern day scientist. who only believes in the forces of nature, in that respect.
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