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Friday, October 14, 2011

The Cult of Republicanism


Very good read:
...What this summer’s debate over the debt ceiling and the straw polls have made clear is that the Republican Party is now involved in a difficult battle over its own orthodoxy.

Take Tertullian. Born in approximately 160 CE in the North African city of Carthage, he was a pagan until middle age when he converted to Christianity. He became more and more emphatic in the faith...

“I believe it because it is absurd… I know it because it is impossible.” With these resonant words, Tertullian announced an entirely new way of making argument convincing, as well as an utterly novel way of imagining religious faith.

It was elegant in its simplicity: first, insist that the most convincing argument hinges on something unbelievable—then there is quite literally nothing left to argue about. In short, Tertullian insisted that the true Christian (of whom he believed there were precious few) must prove his or her bona fides by believing what is literally unbelievable.

As Laderman suggests, we may be witnessing today what a politics of Republicanity grounded in the necessary absurdity of belief will look like. And it is not always a pretty picture. But it’s important to emphasize just how Christian the culture of argument currently embodied in one portion of the GOP appears to be.
Or rather, just how Tertullian a portion of this emerging Republican theology has become. To make one’s argument hinge on absurdity is to escape the need to deal with what the old-school rhetoricians (of whom Tertullian was one, ironically) called “counter-factuals.”

If your faith is intentionally and even proudly absurd, you don’t need to bother with facts...
I used to interpret Tertullian as an advocate of the irrational, the intuitive basis of religious experience, and he was, indeed, but he was also a  bit over the top, as is indicated here.


Baysage said...

Brilliant. I'm going to steal this. Or at least point people this way.

Montag said...

Yes, we forget that our madnesses have all been screamed, yelled, and hypermanicked before.

Someone somewhere has researched intimately our neuroses.