Our Man in the Pews: The Long Tail of the Rattlesnake



Gone are the days of field research when a renegade ethnographer would pile his hefty recording instruments into the trunk of his car and set out on the back roads of the American South in search of that region’s authentic music. This was the method famously employed by the Lomaxes, John…

Several months ago, Ms Odradek posted a section from Auerbach’s “Mimesis” about Francis of Assisi performing acts that were always “impressive, graphic, and indeed scenic.” Shortly after his performances, the Franciscan Order would adopt the act as a liturgy to practice regularly, often turning it into a grotesque or farce. Our Man in the Pew’s article makes it seem like in our age the farce is returning back to an authentic practice.

The great chiasm of time always returns to authenticity?

Our Man in the Pews: The Long Tail of the Rattlesnake

There’s already a soul-repair role here for friends and family, a big one. Karl Marlantes went to Vietnam, won the kind of medals that get him free drinks, and came home haunted by some of the lives he took. In his 2011 memoir, What It Is Like to Go to War, he argued for the end our chirpy, parade approach to veterans, which he compared to clapping for a surgeon who has just amputated a leg.

“This ain’t a football game,” he explained by phone. “We’re talking about killing people here.”

He wants “a solemn parade,” a recognition of the moral damage we all suffer when we send our fellow citizens into battle, and a willingness to talk about it—good, bad, and ugly. But instead most of us offer wan thanks, pushing veterans away from us and inside themselves, until their world narrows into a binary choice: go to war and maybe die, or stay at home and feel dead already. It’s no choice at all.

Tony Dokoupil. A New Theory of PTSD and Veterans: Moral Injury. The Daily Beast. Dec. 3, 2012.

A few weeks ago, I posted about the need for a “sacrament of confession”  (here) for the communities surrounding returning veterans. A few people around the Internets pointed me in the direction of some articles on Moral Injury, or what might have been called in different times a “shadow on the soul”. This article in the Daily Beast I think is fantastic, especially in the section about the Hero Summit recently held in Washington D.C. It seems as though the veterans who seem to be coping are the ones who have been allowed – encouraged – to confess to their communities.