The recurrent myth—and reality—of civilizational ruin and the Remnant

Thomas Bertonneau writes:

Commentators at View from the Right have recently posed the question, “Why would God intervene to save America when America does not want to be saved,” repeatedly, in different contexts. Since it is a theological question, we must seek the answer in Scripture and the equivalent. God salvaged Noah and his family, and the pairs of animals, from the universal flood. God salvaged Lot and his daughters, but not Lot’s wife, from the Cities of the Plain. In both cases, God saw to the continuity of some good that had once been in the world at large, or in the Cities of the Plain, preserving that good to be the nucleus of a new foundation. Vergil tells a not dissimilar story in the Aeneid.

As the socio-cultural crisis deepens in the West, the myths of catastrophe become increasingly relevant. Plato, too, in his story of Atlantis, suggested that the universe reserves condign punishment for wicked societies that flout nature; and he implied that this nemesis belongs to the structure of reality. But Plato, like the Old Testament or Vergil, also allowed for a delicate thread of continuity from destruction to renewal.

Traditionalists should take a cue from the Bible and from Plato and from Vergil. They should take a cue from the science fiction writers—especially from H. G. Wells, that prophet of calamity—and they should begin to think how they might survive the Deluge, or the cosmic incineration of the Cities, or the sinking of Atlantis, metaphorically speaking. They should begin to contemplate the question: What form will their Ark take? By what stratagem will we preserve the Penates, the household gods, the “degree-zero” of the threatened culture, our Troy?

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Alan M. writes:

Might I suggest that our first step is to make of ourselves an ark worthy of being saved, and then we will be more likely to read the times and seasons properly, see the opportunities, and act appropriately.

At the risk of sounding too much like a recent political slogan, we must first become that which is worth saving.

Kristor writes:

The Essenes, too, considered themselves a Remnant of the true Israel; the last to survive of the old Israel from before the Exile in Babylon. Their library, squirreled away in caves in the cliffs above their monastery at Qumran on the shore of the Dead Sea, has provided us with the oldest versions of Old Testament texts we possess. They speak of themselves as the Children of Light, standing isolate in the desert and persecuted by the corrupt priesthood at Jerusalem.

The Essenes at Qumran apparently hid their library against an oncoming catastrophe, which destroyed their monastery, leaving evidence of fire. Perhaps they foresaw the devastation that Rome was about to visit on Palestine in the First Jewish War, that involved the deaths of millions of Jews.

The Essenes seem to have vanished from history. But there is a strong scholarly argument that they did not—that they survived and are with us today. It may have been lay and priestly Essenes who fled the disaster of the First Jewish War at Jerusalem to take shelter in Pella, who were at bitter odds with the Temple authorities, and who likewise called themselves Children of Light: the Church of Jerusalem.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 25, 2012 01:04 PM | Send

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