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Televangelists like Jimmy Swaggert and Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker promise the Christian faith to millions everyday. For the right price, anybody can have something- a.k.a. Christianity, God, and faith- in their lives. On these shows, there is no need to have believed in religion before, as long as there is a need for it now. Religious telecasts asking for money in exchange for faith attract nearly five million people each year. Fifty-five percent of these people are elderly woman; Thirty-five percent are from the desperation pool, the poorest and neediest members of society; The remaining ten percent are those who might be classified as upper-middle class, who want spiritual justification for their greed. Most of us know that the religion professed on these telecasts is not about trusting in God or having a deep belief in his teachings, ideas that aggregate Christianity in society. Instead, the old, the poor, and the rich are buying something to have as their own when they have nothing else, whether it be in the material, social, or emotional sense. So-called faith gives them possession, yet places responsibility in the hands of a higher force. And in that, they are hoping to find freedom in knowing that their lives are less empty and without direction. It may seem that we can hardly relate the televangelist audience of the 20th Century to poetic views on Christianity of the 18th Century, but surprisingly, there lies many similarities between the two.. Both Anne Bradstreet and Phyllis Wheatley appeal to Christianity after their own personal tragedies. These women, like the many viewers who watch Church-TV everyday, have lost everything and are left with nothing. In an attempt to fill the void in their lives, left by Bradstreet s burnt house and Wheatley s treatment as a slave, they turn to the Christian faith that at times seems as empty as the faith that can be commercialized and sold by dramatists on television. In analyzing Here Follows Some Verses Upon the Burning of Our House and On Being Brought from Africa to America, I will consider Christian faith as means of coping with nothingness, rather than a pious way of life. While making references to Anne Bradstreet s similar development of faith, I will contend that Phyllis Wheatley s Christianity seen is sought out for her own purposes in times of feeling nullity rather than a confident belief or trust in God and the acceptance of God s will. Phyllis Wheatley s first appeals to Christianity emerge as she is transported on a slave ship from West Africa to Boston in July 1761, which begins the poem under analysis. In this voyage, she is still indentured into slavery, indicating that she has no material possessions of her own. Slavery has also stripped her of any feelings of self-worth or emotional well-being, through its harsh treatment and totalitarian control. Like a slave master, she views herself as no more than an object, as seen in line one of the poem through the use of the passive brought. Wheatley makes reference to her race throughout the poem, however, I think that because of the way she chooses to identify her race as benighted, diabolic, and needing to be refined, she denigrates it just as the system of slavery does, shaping white skin into the mold for the perfect human being in her mind.. And because she chooses Christianity and European-base ways of life, Wheatley encounters feelings of resentment and isolation from her own people., leaving her with nothing, when she is nothing to anyone. Anne Bradstreet encounters Christianity after the burning of her house in July 1666. Within the body of the poem, she specifically sites material possessions that she has lost: the trunk, that chest, thy table, and the candle. The loss of material goods appears to be a way in which Bradstreet measured the tragedy of the fire, since she made no reference to anything else, such as the value of her family or the importance of her memories. In comparison, though Wheatley has no material belongings, both women share a sense of emptiness caused by loss of all that they have. Because Bradstreet has nothing material, she seems to communicate that her life on earth is insignificant. She cannot be bothered to think of the rest of her life here on earth without her possessions, but looks to God for the promise of a house in eternity, which mirrors the image of Wheatley looking forward to her life of Christianity in America. Christianity then unintentionally becomes a possession for Wheatley, as she seeks to find salvation in faith and looks forward to Christianity in America. In line four of the poem, she refers to redemption as an object which can be equated with what I believe epitomizes her view of Christianity. Since Wheatley has never been able to possess anything because she has always been the possession, she now craves something to own, something to call her own. She fills this void of ownership with Christianity, the only thing accessible in her dire situation. I do not doubt that Wheatley believes in a Christian god, I do, however, believe that her faith was first created to fill a personal emptiness similar to the vacuity filled by the promise of Christian eternity for Bradstreet after the devastation of her home. For both, Christianity becomes something that cannot be taken away by a master or fire as their other possessions have been. It is secure and safe, offering promise of a better tomorrow and placing control in a higher spirit rather than the individual. In Wheatley s case, the prospect of an improved life without having to be responsible for making it happen is appealing. Since both women feel they are nothing and have nothing, they are intimidated by risk, and find assurance in Christianity. Irony exists in that Wheatley finds freedom in the possession of something else. Not until she has Christianity in her life, does she feel autonomous of the dredges of slavery. Christianity creates an idealism in Wheatley s mind that frees her spirit for redemption and allows her to feel independent of her doomed fate. Since most of the slave masters were white and Christian, she may have instinctively correlated freedom with those two attributes, particularly since within the poem she refers to her color as dye as to suggest white skin as a sign of purity. She goes on linking blackness with the sin demonstrated by Cain, and closes with the prospect of black people, such as herself, to be refined. From the beginning of the poem to the end, Wheatley remains a slave, possessing and gaining no more, yet when she turns to Christianity, s

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