[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Cerling, Lee cerling at marshall.usc.edu
Mon Nov 3 14:26:57 EST 2014

Thanks so much for your kind words!

A few quick responses to your comments below:

1) Re:  On misreading Greg ‹  I may very well be misreading him!  Coming
late to the conversation, and not knowing people or their positions, I am
afraid that it will take me a long time to get a good fix on everyone¹s

2) Re:  contemporary sex crime scandal in the public schools ‹  On short
notice, this is the best I can do.  Here is a collection of links to more
than 60 stories, occurring over the last 75 days, about women sexually
assaulting others 
(http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/?s=%22teach+women+not+to+rape%22).   Not
all of these stories involve the teachers in the public school system
assaulting students‹some are in private schools or colleges, some are not
in school settings, and some are follow-ups on previously reported
stories--but I think the majority of stories are about female teachers in
the public school system assaulting their male or female students.   I
believe that a similar list of stories to male teachers sexually
assaulting students in public schools during the past two and a half
months would be even larger; but even if it is only comparable, I can¹t
imagine, if there were this many stories reporting new and unique
instances of pedophilia in the Catholic Church occurring over the last 75
days, that this would not be a story that was front and center of every
news outlet every day for weeks and even months on end.  We would never
hear the end of it.  But I expect that few Americans have any inkling this
is occurring in the public schools at present. And I think that the fact
that this is not more widely known is evidence that the Public School
System, at least in the view of the American media, has not yet reached
Scapegoat status.

3)  Re:  Catholic and evangelical entelechies:  I strongly agree that
entelechies pose some enormous problems in religious circles, especially
those that are committed either to a coherent systematic theology and/or
carry a lot of cultural/historical baggage(Catholicism); or to those that
rely heavily on some sort of belief in immediate revelation (various
versions of Evangelicalism).  ³Psychotic entelechy,² a new term to me,
seems quite helpful and I am grateful to be introduced to it.  At the same
time, religion frequently requires heroic, apparently non-rational
sacrifice (I.e., see Kierkegaard on Abraham¹s sacrifice of Isaac)‹that is,
what would appear to be ³psychotic entelechy² to non-practictioners‹and
I¹m not sure that an objective line can be drawn separating the
³psychotic² from the non-psychotic.  But it still seems like a very
helpful concept.

4)  Re:  the movement to stop accrediting Christian colleges ‹ An article
published by Peter Conn at U Penn on 6/30/14 in The Chronicle is the first
place I heard of this.  The article is here
http://chronicle.com/article/The-Great-Accreditation-Farce/147425/ , and
he has Wheaton College, by all accounts the most academically rigorous of
all Protestant Christian colleges, in his sights. Perhaps the key
quotation is this:  "By awarding accreditation to religious colleges, the
process confers legitimacy on institutions that systematically undermine
the most fundamental purposes of higher education.²  As you might imagine,
the article created something of a furor; but I haven¹t followed the

Many thanks for your thoughts.

Lee Cerling, Ph.D.

Assoc. Professor of Clinical Management Communication
Center for Management Communication
Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California

On 11/3/14, 3:02 AM, "Edward C Appel" <edwardcappel at frontier.com> wrote:

>Great post!  Powerful.  Eloquent.  No need to apologize for nonexistent
>poor writing skills.  Not that I personally wouldn't want to nuance a few
>of the points you make.  For one, I have trouble with the claim that my
>benign and pacific friend is a votive member of so militant a faith
>community as the "Church" you mention.  But as for your overall
>indictment---I like it.
>A few of your takes I might question further: Is the sex crime "scandal"
>in public school systems greater, or even a match for, that in the
>Catholic Church?  And how respectfully are the public schools of the U.S.
>of A. treated in any case?  In today's rhetorical environment, it seems
>to me, public education vies for Public Enemy Number One, Scapegoat par
>excellence. In addition, I like the new Pope, too, but aren't the
>manifest "entelechies" of Catholicism, still extant in 21st-century
>catechism and papal pronouncements, like those of Evangelical
>Protestantism, of concern for communicants in the Church of Burke?
>Maybe more on these quibbles later.
>One thing I'd like from you as an addendum: some documentation on your
>claim that the doctrinaire "Academics" you reference are attempting to
>de-accredit creedal colleges and universities.  I don't doubt what you
>say.  I'd just like to have a citation handy.
>Again, a welcome contribution, from my standpoint.  Thanks a bunch!
>On Sat, 11/1/14, Cerling, Lee <cerling at marshall.usc.edu> wrote:
> Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever
> To: "Gregory Desilet" <info at gregorydesilet.com>
> Cc: "Ed Appel" <edwardcappel at frontier.com>, "kb at kbjournal.org"
><kb at kbjournal.org>
> Date: Saturday, November 1, 2014, 10:16 PM
> I thank everyone--Ed, Carrol, Greg, Bob--for your
> illuminating comments on this discussion.  Greg, your
> response is excellent, and I think I now perceive the heart
> of what is truly a profound disagreement between us, one
> that I don't know how to bridge.
> Here is my sense of things:  Greg, perhaps I am quite
> mistaken on this point, but your language sounds to me like
> the language of a True Believer in the Church of "the
> Enlightenment²‹a term that itself was created in order
> to contrast the  illumination
>  that we derive from objective reason alone with the
> darkness that supposedly reigned when Divine Revelation was
> given a greater role in human affairs.  As a good member of
> that church, or so I imagine you to be, you wish to continue
> to exorcise the demon of
>  "belief in the supernatural" from the thought and
> policy of societies and government.
> But in my view, the Church of the Enlightenment has
> created its own Authoritarianism, and it is called "the
> University" (an institution which the Enlightenment has
> largely expropriated from the Christian Church, by the way,
> but generally without a word
>  of gratitude or acknowledgment).  The University sanctions
> with its Divine Blessing (a degree) all who would seek
> positions of power or influence in the modern world:
>  doctors, lawyers, judges, journalists, politicians,
> educators, and even theologians and
>  pastors!  (The only exceptions are people like Bill Gates,
> who did not get a degree, but who does have Money; and, much
> more dubiously, Hollywood entertainers, who have Fame.)
>  The reverse does not hold:  people in power do not
> particularly need the Divine
>  Blessing of a religious institution in order to be
> successful, except in the case of politicians in places like
> Utah, where religion still holds considerable sway; or the
> nominal confession of religious belief that Presidents are
> still forced to acknowledge,
>  or perish--to the great chagrin of the true believers in
> the Church of the Enlightenment.
> For the members of the Church of the Enlightenment,
> those who believe in revealed religion are "the
> Enemy," "the Others" who do not follow the
> covenant; who are counter-covenant.  Those who do believe
> in revealed religion are only quite begrudgingly admitted
>  a place in the University (though this is currently a
> source of internal division in the Church of the
> Enlightenment; some academics are now lobbying for all
> institutions that require some sort of creedal belief
> statement in revealed religion to be denied
>  accreditation).  And believers in revealed religion are
> admitted to this Church, the Academy, under one condition:
>  that they keep their sin (of belief in revealed religion)
> very secret, and, whatever they do, they do not let it leak
> out or influence their
>  scholarship.
> The Church of the Enlightenment also has its ritual of
> scapegoating:  the Catholic Church, in particular, is a
> regular target.  Thus, the priestly pedophilia scandals
> uncovered in the early 2000's were an occasion of ritual
> shaming, humiliation, and scapegoating--Orange
>  County alone settled for $100 million to bring an end to
> it.  In this story, pedophilia was a sign of the True
> Nature of the Catholic Church, the Enemy, the Other, that
> must be shamed into public confession of its transgression,
> followed by abject silence
>  on social and moral issues.
> This is quite in contrast to the public school system,
> where sexual  scandals involving teachers and students
> still occur nearly every single day, on a level that quite
> eclipses in number and duration the sins that the Catholic
> Church was publicly excoriated
>  for.  But in the case of the public school system, these
> scandals are not taken as a sign of its True Nature;
> instead, they are treated as tragic, isolated events
> involving a number of rogue individuals whose idiosyncratic
> behavior should not reflect on the
>  beloved Public School System, nor be a reason for it to be
> forced to endure the scapegoating that the Catholic Church
> is regularly subjected to.
> I, on the other hand, am not of the True Faith:  I am
> a Skeptic.  I am doubtful that the story about revealed
> religion told by the Church of the Enlightenment is the True
> Story; in any event, I have a very difficult time believing
> in it.   I don¹t believe
>  your assertion below, for example, that it was Monotheism
> that escalated Authoritarianism by tying it to a divine
> source.  I think that Pharaonic Egypt, Nebuchadnezzarean
> Babylon, and Rome under, say, Nero‹all of which bound
> themselves to claims of divine
>  authority‹were every bit as Authoritarian as anything
> created by monotheism.
> At any rate, I think it is the Academy which today is
> most confident in, as you say, ³the certainty of the
> rightness of its dictates.²  One may find a Jerry Falwell
> here or a Pope there whose dictates have a certain following
> among the benighted religious.
>   But at least in the West, it is the Academy and its
> co-religionists in Science and Government that decree how we
> are all to live and whose Divine Imprimatur we must seek.
>  It is irksome to this group that anyone still listens to
> the Pope.  
> But I kind of like the Pope.  And I know I like the
> Bible, and its story of the possibility of love and hope and
> beauty, better than I like, say, Darwin and his grim story
> of brutal, purposeless, competitive aggression.  And if I
> were forced into an argument
>  about it, I would say:  Yes, revealed religion did provide
> the rhetorical and other resources necessary for Luther to
> de-legitimize the Authoritarianism of the then-reigning
> Pope; and he didn't merely replace one Authoritarianism
> by another; but rather, through
>  his rhetorical efforts and those of like-minded
> Protestants, and relying on the resources of texts they
> believed to be divinely inspired, an idea of religious
> Authoritarianism was decisively broken in Christendom.
>  (But that idea of religious Authoritarianism
>  still exists in Islam.)
> And one of the key texts for doing so was the text you
> and I both referenced:  Jesus¹ disciples were arguing
> precisely for the institution of an authoritarian,
> hierarchical model, arguing amongst themselves as to which
> of them should be considered ³the
>  greatest.²  And Jesus replied, ³You know how the
> Gentiles and their rulers lord it over one another.  But it
> shall not be so among you.  Instead, whoever would be first
> must be last; whoever would be greatest must be the servant
> of all.²  And Luther used that
>  language, and similar language, to skewer and de-legitimize
> not only the Pope, but the very way of thinking about
> religious authority that the Pope had come to represent.
> So our disagreement, I think, stems from two
> fundamentally different historiographies:  one that
> valorizes the Enlightenment¹s attitudinal stance of scorn
> for revealed religion, and one that regards that stance as
> mistaken in some important respects.  And
>  that is why I think we view texts with a claim to divine
> inspiration differently.  What do you think?  Is that a
> genuine disagreement that we have, and an accurate reading
> of its source, or not?
> Many thanks for a helpful discussion; and my sincere
> apologies for being so unskilled a writer as to be unable to
> make my point more concisely.
> Lee
> Sent from my iPad
> On Oct 31, 2014, at 6:08 PM, Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com>
> wrote:
> Good response, Lee. You raise an
> insightful question here: ³In your approach to these
> religious texts that you believe authorize Authoritarianism,
> is there room to acknowledge the ways in which they may, in
>  actual historical practice, provide the means to resist and
> de-legitimize Authoritarianism?²
> The examples you give from the
> Biblical tradition seem to be on point but I find them
> troubling when viewed in the broader context of a cycle.
> Certainly divine communications, as you say, can inspire
> resistance
>  to Authoritarianism, but there are many ways to resist
> authority and I would view the Biblical examples you give as
> examples of Authoritarianism vs. Authoritarianism. It is
> more like a way of combating authority with a ³higher²
> authority, like fighting fire
>  with a greater fire. Or to borrow Lee¹s citing of the
> Biblical phrase, ³lording it over other people.² My God
> is stronger than your God.
> But the fire used to fight fire can
> also spin out of control and end up burning those it was
> initially meant to save. This was perhaps the import of a
> lyric from a famous 60s song: ³New revolution same as
>  the old revolution.² The revolutions just keep revolving
> with no real change in the structure of authority. And I
> would argue, as many have, that it is the structure of
> authority that is the real problem. When we invest too much
> authority at the top and make
>  it unaccountable, we are creating the potential for a
> wildfire. And this is exactly what has happened in the great
> religious traditions.
> Furthermore, as the expression
> ³lording it over others² suggests, Authoritarianism, in
> the certainty of the rightness of its dictates, opens a
> structure creating the role of ³the enemy²‹the one who
> in Burke¹s
>  parlance is ³counter-covenant.² The ³enemy² becomes
> the ³others² who do not follow the covenant, deny the
> covenant, or who are not of the same essence as those of the
> covenant. This structure brings into play all of the themes
> developed by Burke relating to
>  order, secret, sin, guilt, redemption, sacrifice,
> scapegoating, victimage, etc.
> In support of what I¹m saying
> about Authoritarianism vs. Authoritarianism, Burke argues in
> RoR that no other structure, essentially different from
> this, is possible for human community. The only way to go
>  forward peacefully, in Burke¹s view, is to work through
> the human ³cult of the kill² tendency by re-directing it
> through symbolic scapegoating rather than real
> bloodletting. 
> So in answer to Lee¹s question I
> would respond that, yes, religions and religious texts can
> and do provide ways to resist Authoritarianism but they most
> certainly do not, on Burke¹s account and in my opinion,
>  provide a means for de-legitimizing it. In fact, religion
> provides the means for escalating the legitimizing process
> of Authoritarian structure by tying it to a divine source.
> Monotheism perhaps escalated this process to the nth level,
> in the all-powerful,
>  all-knowing unitary Godhead. But as Lee points out,
> Authoritarianism can grow in many different soils and does
> not require this divine source for its legitimization.
> Instead, it can be tied to ideas or ideals, in name only,
> such as Justice, Equality, Freedom‹which
>  were clarion calls for Authoritarian political regimes such
> as 20th
> century fascism, communism, and totalitarianism.
> Greg

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