Creation Unveiled: The Implications Of Girardian Therory for Environmental And Animal Issues

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  1. Violence and the Kingdom of God
  2. Bulletin 61 – August
  3. Danger Ahead
  4. Topic: Delta Issues

What God did do is raise Jesus to life. Girard says: It is, of course, the Risen Jesus who re-gathered the disciples and gave them this power. The Resurrection is responsible for this change, of course, but even this most amazing miracle would not have sufficed to transform these men so completely if it had been an isolated wonder rather than the first manifestation of the redemptive power of the Cross.

In his anthropological approach, Girard does not try to tackle ontological questions. In short, the the acts of Jesus are the acts of God.

Mimesis and Jesus Jesus himself modeled for us the right way to embody the human quality of mimesis. Jesus carried out the works his father had given him to carry out. It was the Father, living in him who was doing the work. One image was that of a powerful warrior appearing from Heaven to avenge all of the enemies of God with violent wrath. The other image was derived from the Songs of the Suffering Servant in Deutero-Isaiah, which stressed the suffering of the Son of Man at the hands of the people.

It was the latter model that Jesus chose to follow. Schwager, Raymund. Now translated into English under the title: Jesus in the Drama of Salvation. No wonder Peter had trouble allowing Jesus to wash his feet! Girard insists on retaining the traditional translation of skandalon as stumbling block.

Violence and the Kingdom of God

It is, of course, the model of non-violent suffering that is offered to all who would be followers of Jesus and accept the Kingdom Jesus proclaimed. I n the famous hymn in Philippians, St. Paul stresses the importance of being an example for others. James Alison suggests that the more an infant receives a sense of life as a gift from its parents, the less need the infant has to grasp at life in a competitive way. Alison, James. That is the model revealed by Jesus Christ. The Intelligence of the Victim The collective violence of all-against-one requires the avoidance of truth. For this violence to succeed in holding society together, the society must project its violence on the victim in the name of God.

It is no accident that the pacifistic verses in the Sermon on the Mount are accompanied by solemn cautions against projection. That is, it is not God who inflicts violence on humanity as a punitive measure for being bad.

Rather it is humans who inflict violence on other human violence as a sign of a collective rejection of God. When we insist on choosing to act in this way, God delivers us over to our own passions and allows us to live with the result. You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Likewise, Schwager points out, although the listeners of the parable of the wicked servants in the vineyard said that these servants would come to a bad end, the risen Jesus did not, in fact, come to destroy those who had crucified him.

Rather, the Risen Jesus restrained himself from any show of strength against those who killed him or forsook him. By offering forgiveness and the strength to imitate the lamb of God in word and deed, the Risen Jesus definitively counters the worldly tendency to resolve human issues through the competitive use of power.

Bulletin 61 – August

Schwager, , p. Knowing Jesus. Springfield, Ill. It follows that any act or even any thought of making a victim of another casts a veil over the truth. It also follows that only the voice of the victim can reveal the truth. Jesus demonstrated that by commending his life to his heavenly Father, he received life from his heavenly Father There is no question that the example of Jesus has triggered an enormous amount of sympathy for victims, from the hospitals for lepers that sprouted in the early Christian centuries to the extensive ministry to those suffering from AIDS in our own time.

Unfortunately, the notorious examples of sacred violence committed by Christians are too many and too well known to need enumerating in this essay. As an example, Girard begins his book The Scapegoat with an analysis of a document by the 14th-century poet Guillaume de Machaut, which explains why the Jews are entirely to blame for the Black Death plague and, on that account, were worthy of the collective violence that was inflicted upon them.

An Introduction to René Girard Part 1: Memetic Desire

Such examples should caution us against being quick to assume that possession of the Gospel saves us from perpetrating sacred violence. It stands to reason, then, that Christian tradition would develop over time. As the example of King Josiah reminds us, there is always a danger that we will defend victims at the cost of creating victims. Another danger is that we can focus so intently on certain victims that the impact of our actions on other victims is not be noticed.

Worse, a victim may claim entitlement to vindictive behavior that keeps the cycle of violence going. Alison writes: If you know the crucified and risen victim, you know that you are not yourself the victim. Alision, , p.

Danger Ahead

Many of us feel that we are living in a precarious time. Girard argues that this perception is true, and that the reason this is so is because Jesus has destroyed the mechanism of sacred violence once and for all. The old ways of stabilizing society can only fail now that Jesus has blown the cover on sacred violence. When we try them anyway, we fragment society splintering into small groups, each united around one victim or group of victims. Instead of one victim providing the centerpiece of a society, we have several victims providing several centers, which is to say there is no center at all.

Add the tendency of reform-minded people to defend victims in ways that create more victims, and we have the perfect recipe for social chaos. The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, is our Advocate, our lawyer for the defense. God does not exclude anybody from the Kingdom. We can exclude ourselves, however, by excluding others. We return to the mimetic quality of our desires. A Girardian analysis of human behavior suggests that when the desires of two or more people become enmeshed in one another, conflict is the usual result.

This conflict is not absolutely inevitable, however. It was possible for Jonathan to desire the kingship for David rather than for himself.

Topic: Delta Issues

The more our human desires are enmeshed in the desires of Christ, the more we desire that the life God offers each of us be given to all other people. Then, and only then, do we have the courage to model ourselves on Jesus who laid down his life in the faith that the heavenly father desired, not death, but only life abundantly. This is a fascinating article!

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Thanks for taking such an in depth look at the subject of violence in Scripture. I know many Christians including myself have real difficulty grappling with the violence in the Bible and that sometimes makes it harder for us to share the Gospel with others.

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I look forward to learning more! Peace be with you Ian. You can also explore this with other authors mentioned in my book. Thank you for your response and your book recommendations! I am enjoying exploring your blog and I look forward to following it. Pingback: Victims, Syria and the Contagion of Violence. You are commenting using your WordPress.