Gore Vidal secular prophet
I have been thinking about Gore Vidal in these days following his death. He attributed so much that’s wrong with American society to what he thought of as barbaric, patriarchal monotheism. When those “monotheistic” ideas are reshaped into political ideologies they take on a life of their own. He was right about that, at least. But only from a great and haughty distance would one ever bother to think of what I have known as the sacramental life of a community of faith, or the hopes and dreams of the disciples of Jesus, as “monotheists”, worshiping “the sky god” as he liked to put it. He was a high-born intellectual who sometimes roared on behalf of those oppressed by accepted ideologies. He was a grumbler and an intellectual battler. His essays show that he felt under appreciated as a literary artist. He was the bull in the china shop of American assumptions about our origins and our righteousness as a people. He was a secular prophet, in the service of his own ideas, challenging the powerful and the smug with aristocratic venom. His personality overpowered his prose. His vitriol is recalled as his ambitious works of history, art and drama are forgotten. Like fish in the ocean, we find our own level in the water, where our kind live, where we find food, the right temperature, etc. Vidal had no patience for the most gifted of our writers when they occupied themselves with trivial, every day matters. He thought that a country’s intellectual artists should be engaged in the great debates of their day, swim in the deepest water. He resented his peers for political quiescence and for their occupation with details of domestic life.