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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Day 17: Musings From a Sixth Reading of the Great Book

Updated: Feb 9


Chapter 10: Day 17: A Bosom Friend


I was a good Christian; born and bred in the bosom of the infallible Presbyterian Church. How then could I unite with this wild idolator in worshipping his piece of wood? But what is worship? thought I. Do you suppose now, Ishmael, that the magnanimous God of heaven and earth—pagans and all included—can possibly be jealous of an insignificant bit of black wood? Impossible! But what is worship?—to do the will of God—that is worship. And what is the will of God?—to do to my fellow man what I would have my fellow man to do to me—that is the will of God.”


 

Musings:

More crazy common sense from Ishmael. I certainly see why parts of this chapter would have freaked out the people in Melville’s life. Ishmael, a “good Christian,” is going to worship an idol! But Ishmael gets us to think. What is worship? What a question!


Ishmael speculates that the mighty and loving God we are all taught about has no reason to be jealous of a wood carving. Right? And then Ishmael goes on to say that worship is to do the will of God. And the will of God is to love our fellow man.


This is radical stuff in Melville’s time and, dare I say, in our time as well.


I appreciate so much how Melville uses Ish and Queequeg to show a friendship based on love and respect. I’m ready to read more!

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