While studying for my exam on English Renaissance literature, I was baffled to come across a Catholic website which quoted Milton’s work, claiming Paradise Lost promoted a Catholic rhetoric. The priest relayed his favourite passages from the poem and highlighted their biblical foundations. This, of course, shocked me and made me question the validity of the entire website- this priest was either ignorant or more likely, selectively blind…much like the majority of teaching within Catholicism (another rant on religion to come at a later date….).
John Milton was a presbyterian advocate and was disowned by his family for being so. He later denied religion entirely, choosing to serve God in ‘his own way’ and not by the restrictions of the organized church. He wrote pamphlets regarding his strong political beliefs and called for the removal of hierarchal structure in both the Anglican and Catholic church, believing that power only bred corruption. His strongly worded epic also contained a message of hope for humanity and overcoming evil. I am actually considering using a line from PL in my wedding vows…should I ever have the opportunity. This passage will support a ceremony void of any religious undertones but a comment on man kind, love and companionship. This is how Milton wished his work to be remembered and not in support of a religion based on atonement and fear.
But back to the fabricating priest…My apologies to all who have been incorrectly informed by the said website or any other member of the Catholic community. Milton did not support Catholicism and does definitely not want this yahoo (Yes, I quoted Swift) using his words to benefit such a holey (like Swiss cheese, not ‘Godlike’) belief system. Ignorance is not bliss…although if you are Catholic, please ignore that statement entirely.
Peace be with you.