Thursday, July 22, 2004

More on Rene Girard's cultural anthropology

I stumbled across an excellent site called Preaching Peace whose opening paragraphs I want to quote in full:
"Greetings! is a website dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For almost 2,000 years clergy have sought to bear witness to the revelation of God in Christ, sensing therein, something distinctive, something different, something good. At the beginning of the twenty first century, the world is need of this something different, something good. It is in need of Jesus.
The twentieth century has seen enormous advance in all manner of technology and science. The same is true of the science of theology. It is almost impossible to stand back from the trees to see the forest. The sheer mass of information, data, theses, hypotheses and theories in biblical studies, theology, church history, dogma, liturgy, philosophy as well as other important areas overwhelms us at times. It is often difficult to know which direction to turn or down which road to go. We have had the opportunity to travel broadly and widely and wish to share our insights with you. is our ‘travel guidebook.’
We believe that it is a time for stock-taking, evaluating and sifting for Christian theology and the church. We also believe that the good gospel of God in Jesus Christ has been obscured and often times completely covered over, hidden away by the very Church given the task of sharing it.
Our writing has been informed by many different writers of many different places and times. All in all, we see certain threads being woven throughout the history of Christian thought and life and those threads when viewed together form a tapestry of thought. It is this tapestry or portrait of Jesus that we wish to share here. This site has been informed by the theory of mimetic scapegoating proposed by Rene Girard and worked out in an inter-disciplinary manner by members and friends of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion. Girard’s hypothesis is an anthropological one, so in this sense it is no threat to Christian theology, but it is an anthropological theory that has profound consequences for Christian theology.
Like you, we too are on a journey to discern the will of God for us in our world today. We are seeking to discern that will on both a macro and a micro level, on both an objective and a subjective plane. In short, we seek wholeness (shalom), the peace that is ours in the gospel of the God of Peace revealed in the Prince of Peace."

This is as good a place as any to explore Rene Girard's theories on mimetic contagion and how Christ's sacrifice is a New Thing in the World whose similarities to myth is a deliberate remedy to how traditional mythologies function in human culture. His thought is not only an excellent remedy to the romanticization of myth that we've seen due to folks like Joseph Campbell but also a transformative way of looking at what, exactly, Christ's sacrifice brought to the world of human violence.  

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