Tragedy

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From Frances Young’s Construing The Cross: “So in theatre, the “invisible becomes visible”; we find liberation from our ordinary everyday selves. This is what makes “the theatre a holy place in which a greater reality could be found,” often in the paradox of a loss which is also gain. Great tragedy probes for the meaning behind it all. It exposes the truth about the human condition so that it may be faced and ritually dealt with. So what I now want to suggest is that the cross functions like tragedy. The drama exposes the reality of human sin, the insoluble conflicts that so often lead to the suffering of the innocent, the banishment and destruction of what is good, the mobilization of the political and religious structures to eliminate change or challenge. Christ is thrust outside the camp, banished like the scapegoat. All humanity is involved in the shame of it. Yet the story of the cross is redemptive. For the things we fear, the taboos of blood and death, the curse of the most cruel and despicable punishment devised by humanity, these are sacralized—put in a positive context in which they can be faced and dealt with. The drama effects an exposure of the truth. It becomes a universal narrative, a story told by an inspired poet, not a mere chronicler or historian. As Aristotle put it, “poetry is both more philosophical and more serious than history, since poetry speaks of universals, history of particulars.” The terrible truth of human complicity in evil, of goodness snuffed out, of God’s abandonment, is exposed and faced, faced as in a ritual context: the thing that is taboo is turned into something holy, the sin we cannot bear to face is redeemed, the pollution we usually fail to observe is revealed, and katharsis , in the sense of purification or atonement, is effected.”

Roger

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