I wonder how many others, like me, thought of William Morris’s News from Nowhere and its representation of communal joy, fellowship, and delight in work and nature in reading Nussbaum’s article. Indeed, Chp. 18 of News from Nowhere explicitly takes up the topic of “The Religion of Humanity”:
‘More akin to our way of looking at life was the spirit of the Middle Ages to whom heaven and the life of the next world was such a reality, that it became to them a part of the life upon the earth….now, where is the difficulty in accepting the religion of humanity, when the men and women who go to make up humanity are free, happy, and energetic at least, and most commonly beautiful of body also, and surrounded by beautiful things of their own fashioning, and a nature bettered and not worsened by contact with mankind?’
Indeed, the last chapter of News from Nowhere involves the “haysel” feast, a communal celebration held in a medieval church that is “gaily dressed up for this latter-day festival, with festoons of flowers from arch to arch” (Chp. 32).
Perhaps other Morriseans will know whether Morris exerted any direct influence on Tagore; my sole knowledge of a connection is the mention of Morris in 1 or 2 letters from Sir William Rothenstein to Tagore. In any case I hope that Martha Nussbaum will reconsider Morris’s own role in creating an important paradigm of civic religion founded in creativity, inclusion, and social justice.