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Guess when!

February 11, 2012

When was this written?

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. (…) Men too often confound them. They should not be confounded. Appearance should not be mistaken for truth. Narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ.

To me, the ideas sound fairly modern. My guess would have been that this was written maybe fifty years ago, by a young Christian of a revolutionary bent, on a collision course with the church establishment. It could even have been taken from a modern blog devoted to criticizing the US religious right from a Christian perspective.

Actually, the passage quoted above is from the author’s preface to the second edition of Jane Eyre, written in December 1847. (To be fair, I modernized the punctuation when quoting. The original colons and semicolons gave the game away.)

It is a special feeling to find seemingly recent ideas or conflicts in old sources. It gives me a jolt and a sense of temporal displacement. I get directly pulled into the world of 1847, so different from the one I live in, but appearently also with great likenesses. It also gives me a firm hope for humanity. If people back then already struggled with a problem we have today, and it has not destroyed us yet, it is hardly likely to do so in the near future.

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