I was struck by one of the questions recently posed in class discussion: “If ‘all religions are one,’ then why was Blake a Christian?” Blake’s short piece argues that all religions, because they each stem from the same “universal” Poetic Genius, “have one source.” If our religion depends only on our “Nation’s different reception of the Poetic Genius,” what is the point of abiding by a particular religion at all, or what advises against being a member of several religions?

I believe there are two primary reasons Blake gives for his adherence to Christianity. One, he believes man should abide by the particular faith of his countrymen. Blake’s prophecy and revolutionary ideas are largely, though not entirely, centered around England, and I believe he felt a special kinship to his home and its national faith, which was not only a religious but also a cultural and social experience. (Clearly England sensed Blake’s attachment to her, as seen by the inclusion of the incorrectly-interpreted “Jerusalem” in the royal wedding.) He ties faith to “nation” – indicating his belief that one should abide by, or at least that there is nothing wrong with following, the faith of one’s country. Two, he believes there is a unique feature of Christianity that makes it more attuned to the “Poetic Genius,” which he says is the source of any connection with God. At the end of “There is No Natural Religion,” Blake writes, “Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is.” I think this is a specific reference to Christianity and to its tenet that God became flesh in the figure of Jesus Christ, an idea that is specific to Christianity. Blake’s interpretation of Christ’s incarnation as man is that Christ is the ultimate poet or artist, for “the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic Genius” (“All Religions Are One”). Christ’s Poetic Genius is God’s Poetic Genius, and thus his outward human image is not only derived from that internal spirit but also mirrors that of mortal man. Christ becomes the figure we can emulate and “become as he is,” for he has “become…as we are.” The products of His Poetic Genius are available to man. I believe it is this allure that kept Blake solidly moored in Christianity.

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