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The Voegelin community is a puzzling one.

To an outsider (i.e., to me), it seems insular but enthusiastic. It's like they're on their own island and eagerly invite others to the island but with one requirement: the others already be on the island.

And what does it mean to be on the island already?

It means you're insular in your ways and well-read in Voegelin.

Until recently, it also meant that you're an academic, but VoegelinView is doing a lot to change that. I have long maintained that Voegelin needs more vulgarizers, but I think such a thing requires a three-step (probably four-step) distillation process:

  1. Someone who is willing to write for a mass audience (the vulgarizer) needs to read Voegelin. That's hard. That's like asking someone who wants to run an ice cream parlor to be dedicated to eating vegetables. Impossible? Not at all, but they're things that run in opposite directions.
  2. The vulgarizer will then need to read academics who make Voegelin more accessible.
  3. The vulgarizer then needs to read well-read writers/thinkers who make the Voegelin academic more accessible.
  4. The vulgarizer then needs to figure out how to make it relevant or interesting to a mass audience who thinks the New York Times represents the height of erudition.

Ellis Sandoz was one of the best in the second distillation. I first read the main Voegelin corpus (New Science of PoliticsScience, Politics, and Gnosticism; and the Order and History) and understood, perhaps, half of it. I then read Ellis Sandoz' The Voegelinian Revolution, which was enormously helpful but still very confusing. When I heard he died, I pulled it off the shelf and was surprised at the enormous amounts of underlining (an implication that I understood more than I remember understanding . . . if that makes sense).

In any event, the man has died and deserves to be remembered. David Walsh has written a fine biographical tribute.