Mimesis and School Shootings

I think Michael Hardin at Preaching Peace has it right, both in his comments on the most recent school shooting at Northern Illinois Univ. (where by early accounts the shooter was not obviously ‘socially aberrant’ though there were mental health concerns) and in his plea that we look at our own desires, our own imitation of others and the desires of others’, the war in our own heads.

“According to the mimetic theory, culture is breaking down because of the proclamation of the gospel.  Our tendency to valorize violence, in video games, movies, sports, politics and national conflicts (John McCain “we must bring our troops home with honor”) are sure indications that we are reaping what we have sown.

“But before culture can break down in its external form, it breaks down in its internal form, in the minds of those who have been real or perceived victims of violence.  These are the demoniacs of the gospel tradition, the ‘crazy’ people locked up in institutions, the socially aberrant so well described by Michel Foucault and others.

“Getting out of the war in Iraq is real big these days, especially among our progressive Christian friends. Getting the war out of our heads ought to be as high a priority. The reason we war in our heads, create rivalries that escalate out of control is because we have not dealt with the more primary component, viz., imitated desire. We still laud the ‘free market economy’ that urges us to think more is better, commercials and advertisements tease us with a Platonic dream of wanting and having more as though our needs would or could be met by things. Our right as Americans to ‘pursue happiness’ is bringing us to our knees, we were not meant for this lifestyle as creatures made in the image of God.

So do not be surprised my friends when citizens among us (who are really expressions of our inner selves and not distinct from us) break down and utilize violence as the solution to their problems. “


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