Tuesday, July 08, 2014

On Internet Trolls, Etc. (1933)

The great T.S. Eliot summed it up perfectly in After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy (pp. 11-12):

"In such matters, as perhaps in everything, I must depend upon some good-will on the part of the reader.  I do not wish to preach only to the converted, but primarily to those who, never having applied moral principles to literature quite explicitly - perhaps even having conscientiously believed that they ought not to apply them in this way to 'works of art' - are possibly convertible.  I am not arguing or reasoning, or engaging in controversy with those whose views are radically opposed to such as mine.  In our time, controversy seems to me, on really fundamental matters, to be futile.  It can only usefully be practised where there is common understanding.  It requires common assumptions; and perhaps the assumptions that are only felt are more important than those that can be formulated.  The acrimony which accompanies much debate is a symptom of differences so large that there is nothing to argue about.  We experience such profound differences with some of our contemporaries, that the nearest parallel is the difference between the mentality of one epoch and another.  In a society like ours, worm-eaten with Liberalism, the only thing possible for a person with strong convictions is to state a point of view and leave it at that."

1 comment:

Michael L. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D said...

The "et cetera" of the title extends to embrace intra-Synodical turmoil, something of greater consequence than the works of electronic tofte.

There seems to be a "common assumption" by the antagonists about one faith, one Lord and one baptism; but the cordiality profoundly breaks down, when it comes to how best to genuinely express a faithfulness towards the one Lord, and His Body.

But I don't believe that juggling and salesmanship skills, seen now as something virtuous and necessary to the expansion of God's kingdom, are compatible with an awareness of the Presence of God in the sanctuary. The Presence ... coming to us truly in Word and Sacrament ... does not require the stirrings of the human breast, or the human anything, to establish its reality. There is no need to cut the throat and have the heart race, as did the Ba'alists of old, in order to urge a far-away false god to show himself/herself ... or propel us to heaven, to meet him or her. And further, there is no cause to amputate the brethren saints and angels from our gatherings, by scorning the practices they swore by, and indeed observe now (the hopefully common assumption being, that Revelation has it spot on).

Ceremonies which fail to fearfully and reverently teach about the Presence, and the reality of the Church catholic which unites living and the dead, can only lead to eventual trouble. The Lutheran Confessions admirably and boldly contend that this is the purpose of ceremony. Our age, speaking generally, is no more literate in Scriptural truths than was the German peasant of the 16th century. Accordingly, ceremonies of any sort have impact; they have influence; and they will come to shape the spirit, for better or for worse.

There will be consequences.

Eventually, one side will be told by the King, "I never knew you." You see, the horrific irony of the "sheep and goats" warning of Christ ... the one known as Immanuel ("God-with-us") ... is that all the participants sincerely addressed Him as "Lord."