I remember the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride, Following me in the wilderness, in a land unsown.
I brought you into the garden land to eat its fine fruits, But you entered and defiled my land, you turned my heritage into an abomination.
Jeremiah, 2:2, 2:7
About the Jeremiad
The jeremiad as a uniquely American literary form of self-admonishment, modeled by the Old Testament prophets, shaped by the Puritans, extended by Jonathan Edwards, incorporated into the vocal rhythms of slave spirituals, and realized in perhaps its purest conventional form – as a reminder of how far we have fallen as a people – in the second inaugural address of Abraham Lincoln.
As a traditional sermonic genre, the jeremiad served to reconnect the people to God and to each other by reminding them of their weakness as individuals and their dependence upon each other and upon God for survival. The jeremiad also served to restore awareness of the providential mechanics of our lives – that we do not hold our destiny in our hands.
Jeremiadus is a website devoted to criticism classically conceived – not simply as pungent pejoration, but as metaphysical examination of everything that concerns us as moral creatures. This kind of criticism is essentially prophesy. The “critic” lives on the margins of society, which allows him to see it whole. All of the gears and rods and pistons as they mesh (or not). All of history as its wheels turn. What is the idea of America? How does it bind us? The voice of the critic calls us back to these claims upon us, and in so doing calls us back to ourselves.
The jeremiad always begins from a simple, unifying premise – that sin, pride, and weakness are the conditions of our existence, consuming us (as Henry Adams believed) with no possibility of redemption. That premise is the lens for seeing whole, for perceiving the deep dynamics of politics, technology, literature, music, film, sports, media, science, technology, war, and religion. As a marginal persona (non grata), the critic grasps the pure meaning of the jeremiad, applies that meaning to his society in all of its manifestations, and locates the seeds for our survival (no more, no less) in the commitments to each other that we make and unmake and remake daily.
Old Testament Prophets
Jeremiads and Conversion Narratives
Secondary Bibliography on Puritanism in New England
A Brief Recognition of New England’s Errand into the Wilderness
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
Dese Bones Gwine Rise Again
Second Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln
Contemporary Analysis and Applications
Puritan Metaphysics of Ass-Kicking (or, How to Live Righteously When Mayhem Ensues)
Nassim Nicholas Taleb and the Modern Jeremiah
Scaling Risk and Political Decline – Or the Triumph of the Dark Lord Sauron
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Donnie Darko, and the Meaning of History
For publishing inquiries, please contact Mitchell S. Waters at Curtis Brown, LTD, Ten Astor Place, New York, NY 10003.