Thursday, March 24, 2011

Enantiodromia, continued

One of the tendencies of our age is to use the suffering of children to discredit the goodness of God, and once you have discredited His goodness, you are done with Him... Ivan Karamozov cannot believe, as long as one child is in torment; Camus' hero cannot accept the divinity of Christ, because of the massacre of the innocents.

In this popular pity, we mark our gain in sensibility and our loss in vision. If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw with the blind, prophetical, unsentimental eye of acceptance, which is to say faith. In the absence of this faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is a tenderness which, long since cut off from the person of Christ, is wrapped in theory.

When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced-labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber. 

Flannery O'Connor
Mystery and Manners

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ivan K. 'believes' (as the devil 'believes' acc to letter from James), but he refuses his entrance ticket to real presence at the banquet since he won't-can't accept karmic complicity in the abuse of the "child" (à la Those who walk away from Omelas, by Ursula Le Guin).

Alyosha agrees that he too can't accept real presence, and commends belief in the One who can accept the guilt karma transfer.

In any case, Ivan K sees no problem in participation in routine evils, unPickwickian slaughter of unPickwickian innocents — the forced-labour camps, the gulag, the liquidation of kulaks and their children, as Flannery refers to.

Ordinary atrocities and whatnot incur no difficult karmic penalty, especially if they were done for a good cause (sc had leftwing thus well-intention'd rationales). Real presence at the banquet is the toughie.

Too bad Flannery O'Connor doesn't read as well as she writes! ... But she prefer'd the doctrine-less daimonic presences in Southern Prot "Gothic" Culture, and only read Aquinas to put her self to sleep at night.

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