[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Gregory Desilet info at gregorydesilet.com
Mon Nov 10 20:37:34 EST 2014

Stan—wow! Thanks for your response. I see how you have been reading me much better now when you say the following:

“I guess I just had the feeling that the tone of your argument hoped to dismiss everyone on the ‘religious’ side of the divide by equating them all with those who held authoritarian interpretations of scripture.  I thought I saw in your tone an attempt to delegitimize sacred texts and move them all into a category that could only be interpreted as literature (open to unlimited interpretations).

So, yes, what you say above is not what I’m suggesting. However, I do think you put your finger on the weakest link in my line of thinking when you say, for example, this:

“I agree . . .with Ed that those who see a God element in the texts are still religious. I just wanted to make internal distinctions among those who interpret the Bible as a divinely inspired text, rather than have everyone in that category painted with a broad brush.”

I can see how you have concerns here based on part of what I said in a previous post in response to Lee, which is as follows:

“I don’t believe such texts [sacred texts] are the sole source or perhaps even the primary source of motivation for authoritarianism. But I do believe that as soon as a group of people believes a text to be the word of God it amounts to stepping on a banana peel and initiates a skid straight into authoritarianism. And there may also be a bundle of motivations involved in believing a text to be divinely inspired, but one clear consequence is authoritarianism—even where the text in question may claim to be, as you [Lee] claim for the New Testament, anti-authoritarian.”

Here, I’m clearly lumping into one category those who believe a text to be divinely inspired—and I’m claiming this belief leads to authoritarianism. Stan suspects I might have gone too far here and he could be right. Frankly, (I’m ‘fessing up here) there is a side of me that wants to place all texts even remotely considered to be “God communication” into one category and consider them all to be on the road to fascism. Another side of me wants to acknowledge that every time we step on a banana peel we don’t necessarily do a complete pratfall into 1984. Sometimes we may skid a little and then catch ourselves and maintain balance.

So it occurs to me there may be groups of religious folks who believe their religious text to be divinely inspired but who also do NOT consider its message or messages to be sufficiently univocal and clear to permit unquestioned interpretation and obedience and who allow for multiple readings and inquiry into the text. This seems to be what Stan is getting at and, if so, I admit the point is debatable. A side of me wants to foreclose this possibility but this may be nothing more than my manifestation of what Nietzsche calls the “mendacity of a systematizer.” I see this category as an unstable category and I want to push it into some kind of stability—by either naming such religious folks as essentially secularists and thereby “philosophers” or as deceivers or self-deceivers who are at bottom deceptively authoritarian. 

But maybe I need to allow for the possibility of an unstable category of “non-authoritarian believers in divinely inspired texts.” Granting as much, I do continue to feel a strong inclination to think of such folks as really philosophers who believe in what Ed calls the “Great Potential” rather than “religious” folks, but I need to pull back and ponder it for a while. Perhaps it will lead to a better understanding of what it means to be religious.

Thanks to all for, as Wayne Brockriede used to say, helping me conduct my education in public.



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