“Cogito ergo sum”


Philosopher Descartes


“I think, therefore I am”   Rene Descartes,  Principles of Philosophy, 1644


It was April 1757.  Overseers at the Darby Meeting of Friends entered a complaint against me for not believing in Christ as the Son of God.  After 13 months of discussion, I was formally disowned.

I was excommunicated for my heresy.  I was thrown out of the membership of Friends in which I had been raised.  I was 59 years old. 

I’ve spent my life passionately dedicated to the belief that God is visible in all we see.  His power is transcendent in his creation and doesn’t require the existence of a junior or a ghostly version. 

Jeffersonian Bible Clippings

I subscribe to Mr. Jefferson’s vision as eventually composited and published as “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.”  My Friends and family took great exception.  They reached their consensus without consulting my own “Observations” 

I was too much noticed in our society.  I had a wide range of notable other friends not within the inner circle of my meeting’s powers.  My sociable ways and my outspoken views were held up against a model of orthodoxy and found severely wanting.  Independence of thought and originality of spirit was too challenging for the group seeking to preserve Penn’s Legacy.

That word—Legacy!—flew into the proceedings like an evil black-winged bird.  I was a challenge to the Legacy of our community. 

I live my life in my garden.  My garden in its entirety includes as many plants as ideas.  Corresponding as I do with some of the world’s most recognized specialists in Botany, Philosophy, Medicine, and Geology, I can respond to these smaller minds with demonstrated facts.  I am not bound by dogma and supernatural effects.  My library has several dozens books!

Mr. Thomas Jefferson John Bartram Friend

Mr. Thomas Jefferson from life


“I cannot live without books!”  Thomas Jefferson.


When I am out in nature, I commune with my God.  His creation has been perfectly and beautifully defined by the new system of Latin nomenclature identified by Carl Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae of 1735.  I regularly correspond with Mr. Linnaeus.  His system defines the world of plants by counting the number of stamens and pistils.  He defines God’s naturally ordered world by an exacting description of a plant’s reproductive parts.

The mere thought was anathema for certain members of my community of Friends.  The smaller the reproductive parts, the smaller the mind.

So I am left outside.  I am officially unorthodox.  I think mostly because I am reputably social and recognizably honest in observation.  I compel recognition that God is alone and to be seen in all things.  My wonderful garden is full of His botany.  Stamens, pistils, genera, species, seeds and selections are all to be understood by His science. 

I exist in the world and God has created it after his singular image.  My plants are found in His nature and live to procreate with his sufferance. 

Over these many intervening years, I have moved beyond my Friends at meeting.  The world changes on a moment to moment basis.  Nothing is immutable.  The variety of shades of green in my world doesn’t discourage me from continuing the search for new, different, unusual, better.  I am caught up in nature’s drama and can’t be concerned with the distractions of those that must define it as tragedy or comedy.

I am officially out of meeting but I am now in attendance of God’s natural world.  I worship in the wild.  I can sing now in the country and shout to the heavens without fear of retribution.  The world is GREEN and I cannot be a happier, God-fearing member of that world than I am.  Let the rest contemplate damnation.

John Bartram in an English-style landscape that utilized all of the plants that he'd introduced to England.

John always finds it odd that "English-style" landscapes in this country utilize almost all of the trees that he introduced to England.

3 responses

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