[KB] Triumph of the Faction?

Edward C Appel edwardcappel at frontier.com
Fri Jul 21 12:19:01 EDT 2017


Skipping to the end,perhaps, of the soritical series---ellipses being a time-honored Burkean way ofgoing---I’ll change the query to the more generalized, “Triumph of theFaction”? Which side, in fact, won World War II, in terms of East vs. West?Whose forms of thought now dominate global enterprise and relationships? Ergo,are the seemingly less polarized, more or less “comedic,” religions of theEast, like Buddhism and Daoism, in sway, or, as I see it, the redeemed“factionally” tragic drama of historic Christianity? Factionalism remainsintact in the current creed of the Catholic Church (hell is a place of fire;read about it in the R.C. catechism likely on the shelves in your nearby Barnesand Noble) and Evangelical Protestantism. Liberal Mainline Protestantismeschewed those polar dialectics long ago in favor of a broad-based ecumenism.I’ve never heard hell, much less hell-fire, preached in a Mainline ProtestantChurch. It’s not in any of the three 20th century statements offaith in the United Presbyterian Book of Confessions.  The last time I heard daughter Beth preach, atChanceford Presbyterian in York Country, PA, she spoke of “:mistakes” to becorrected, not sins and evils to be punished. It seemed right out of ATH. The kids got pencils with erasersduring the children’s sermonette.

But that persistenttragic factionalism of historic Christian faith has shaped our ideologicallandscape. You’ll find it in the title of Richard Tarnas’s book, “The Passionof the Western Mind.” You’ll find an echo of it in Burke’s assertion, “Anytimeyou see someone straining to do something, look for evidence of the tragicmechanism.” And the West has been mightily “straining” toward the globaldominance it’s manifestly achieved in the industrial age. If the demurrer is,the East is now overtaking us, it’s because the East has been near-thoroughlyWesternized. Note the rhetoric of clothing, prominent enough in Burke’s RM: The dark Western business suit, withtie and dress shirt, has conquered the world.

Christianity had a slimchance of becoming universally tragic. At least one form of “Christian”Gnosticism (Valintinian?) saw the Divine Light trapped in everybody. TheGodhead itself was “fallen” and would remain so until ALL that Divinity wasrestored to heaven, beyond the archons that ruled the planetary realm.Gnosticism died out at the end of the Patristic Age.

The upshot, as I seeit: The impetus of factionally tragic part-doom-and-gloom will be hard tocounter. Burke, the self-described “Manichee,” seemingly turned more morose inhis later stage. The “50-50” chance for humankind he vouchsafed to me in 1987looks more like 55-45, negative, against the backdrop of “Helhaven.” Even hispoem at the conclusion of “Satire” ends up factionally tragic (On Human Nature, pp. 91-95).  Recall, too, Burke’s transition in “logology”from the less manacing notes of the pentad/hexad to the “morbid[ities]” of theguilt-redemption cycle (RR, p. 181).

But why listen to me?I’m a self-confessed “tragic-frame” personality in a comic-frame cult (RR 15-16). As Ann noted in her speech,Burke credits both natural and social “recalcitrance.” Maybe we can add tothose pressures that constrain the psychological.

Miami should startmoving its buildings to higher ground.


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