“a justifying faith is a lust-fighting [not lust-delighting] faith.” Continue reading . . .
In the most recent issue of First Things there is a review by David Nolan of Robert Zaretsky’s new book, Boswell’s Enlightenment (Harvard, 288 pages). James Boswell was born in 1740 and died in 1795. He is most known for his two-volume, Life of Samuel Johnson (published in 1791).
I don’t know much about Boswell. Nor have I read the book by Zaretsky. But something in the review caught my eye. I have no idea whether or not Boswell was born-again, but Zaretsky believes that he was. Zaretsky describes a conversation between Boswell and the enlightenment philosopher Voltaire. Boswell pressed Voltaire about his beliefs concerning immortality and eternal life. Voltaire finally conceded by saying: “I suffer much, but I suffer with Patience & Resignation; not as a Christian – But as a man.”
Zaretsky follows this with an intriguing and rather disturbing statement:
“Boswell himself suffered as a man, especially from the gonorrhea he contracted in the course of a too-active social life. But unlike Voltaire, he also suffered as a Christian. Boswell was riven with contradictions: delighting in lust and analyzing his sexual performances with a variety of women, yet speaking often of virtue; self-analytical to a fault and anxious, yet socially capable and successful; religious from birth, yet attracted to the atheist and deist thinkers of the day” (emphasis mine).
As I said, I don’t know much about Boswell and I’m not familiar with the circumstances that led to his “Christian” profession.
But I’m disturbed, to say the least, that Zaretsky would describe him as “delighting in lust.” According to Boswell&rs