Philosophy and Religion
Kenny Traveny

This is a presentation I did for my poetry class on the poem, "Sunday Morning," by Wallace Stevens. It presents my views on Religion and philosophy; in particular, Secular Humanism.

I did my presentation on Sunday Morning by Wallace Stevens. I chose this poem because it incorporates a lot of my interests; poetry, philosophy, and religion. While not a religious person myself, I can identify with this poem as I believe its message is that you don’t need to go to church even be a religious person to see the beauty of life, and one can still have morals without religion. This is evident in lines such as, “Divinity must lie within herself,” which to me means that Christians should be Christ-like, and not just Christian. For instance, to quote comedian Bill Maher in his film Religulous, “if you’re Christian and go against teachings of Jesus, you can’t call yourself Christ’s followers, you’re just fans!”
While religion, as this poem shows, can be a beautiful thing, causing the help and aid of others, it can also be very divisive and has caused many of the major wars. This is mainly from extremists such as Al-Qaeda who take literal meanings from their Holy Books, as all religions have, as the poem states eloquently, “a part of labor and a part of pain, and next in glory to enduring love, not this dividing and indifferent blue.” It’s those kinds of people that turn me personally away from religion, as they look at people who don’t believe the same thing they believe and threaten them with eternal damnation. If we look at the Book of Revelation for instance, that was a time when it was believed only God could end the world, but now man does too; unfortunately before men figured out how to become rational, or peaceful, they figured out how to make nuclear weapons, and pollute on a catastrophic scale, and if it’s one thing I hate more than prophecy, it’s self-fulfilling prophecy. There are so many religions, who’s to say which one is truly right? It’s like the lottery! You can’t get saved if you don’t play! I believe as long as you’re a good person, that’s all that matters; and no one can truly know what the truth is, and what happens after you die.
I believe this poem presents a view of Secular Humanism, as it has the ideology that we can see the joy and beauty of life and have morals without a belief system. “There is no haunt of prophecy, nor any old chimera of the grave,” this is an ideal world to me, and it reminds me of the song “Imagine”, by John Lennon, as it still has a peaceful view on life.
As I said, while not religious myself, I still find this poem beautiful, as I do the Bible. Being an English major, I tend to look at everything as allegory and metaphor, and this poem is full of them, as well as the Holy books, which I also find to be beautiful and present good moral values. I believe we should all get from this poem what I did; to challenge and question our faith, as it’s simply human nature. To end with a quote from the college’s own Dr. Dragani, “Your faith isn’t truly yours unless it is challenged.”
by Kenny Traveny