Re: What are *your* religious beliefs?

Eric Crump (wleric@SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU)
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 09:52:59 -0500

Victor wondered:
>__When we write do we serve the devil or the one true God?

There's a difference? ;-)

"one person's heaven is another person's hell" may have achieved the status
of tired old platitude used to support easy relativism precisely because it
so neatly and emblematically represents a complexity so complex we can't
quite apprehend it and therefore call it (depending on our personal
predilections, the day of the week, and the phase of the moon) either devil
or god. Maybe the question could be paraphrased:

__When we write do we dabble with incomensurable complexity? (and does the
writer of this question even know what it means? does the answer to this
second question provide the answer to the first?)


__When we write do we wrap ourselves in chaos?


__When we write do we expose our souls to their maker (devil or god or ....)?


__Are we creating souls as we go(and write)?

>__Do we believe that if we are *not clear* that the god of Clarity will
>get us? in Hell, which of course is a place of a total Lack of Clarity?
>(__Do we believe that Heaven is a place of Total Clarity?)

Clarity might be the name of the devil just as well, eh (or so I fear
sometimes, especially while trying to be very clear)?

The real menace of barbarism is that it tends to be hidden behind a
facade of
respectability, in institutions hwich are so taken for granted that the
very idea
of subjecting them to criticism is received as an intolerable heresy.

--Lionel Rubinoff
_Tradition and Revolution_ (6)

Like the heresy: not all writing needs to be (or *can* be) clear to all
readers or even, maybe, to any readers if some ideal notion of clarity, of
one soul transmitting a pure message to another soul, is what we're
ultimately after.

I like the way John Slatin put it at CCCC last year:

Noise isn't really *noise.* It's extra information.

Heh. Maybe clarity is a trap, an attempt to divert our attention from the
information that doesn't conduct itself with proper decorum! :)

All these 'silly questions' nicely bring the religious nature of what we do
out into the open, much though academic culture wishes to believe its own
myth of secularity, and it ain't just writing but education generally as
well that is very much as religious as any religion. Ivan Illich asserts
it: "Our faith in the saving power of schooling has initiated us into a
univeresal religion" (_Tradition and Revolution_ 31). He goes on to say
that school sort of took the baton from religion when religion became
disestablished a couple of centuries ago. "In the age of Christendom, the
Chruch performed a social role analogous to that of the school of today's
world. The Church provided an independetnly organized and controlled cental
myth-making ritual" (40).

And since most of us learn to write in schools, continue to find our
writing occasions somehow ordered by or provoked by school, Victor's
questions are ingeniusly appropriate since they echo their analogs in moral
behavior that we normally associate with the Church in its function as
guardian (not to mention creator) of good&bad.

--Eric Crump

| Eric Crump
| --and--
| "To the extent that Civilization As We Know It depends on correct
| spelling, Civilization As We Know It ain't worth saving."
| --John Slatin