31 DAYS: APOCALYPSE, NOW ~ DAY 18 :: UNVEILED VIOLENCE

metalorbburiedfernKCCExtNLNH29Sept2018Welcome to day 18 of 31 Days of Apocalypse, Now, a month of posts about apocalypse, revelation, uncovering what’s been hidden. Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may only peripherally seem related. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.

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Note to those looking for gardening posts: This is not one. This may not be for you.

My thoughts on apocalypse, and my world view in general and thoughts on psychology, sociology, culture, politics, history, and literature specifically, are shaped by mimetic theory and Girardian thought, as articulated by René Girard, James Alison, Paul Nuechterlein, Bob Hamerton-Kelly, and others.

One can get very deep and very heady researching and applying mimetic theory (there are many long books written about it). I want to concentrate as concretely as possible on the concept of apocalypse; but there is a great deal of background to cover to get there.

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When most Western people think about the word “apocalypse,” they think about the book of Revelation in Christian Bible. Gil Bailie, in his book Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads (1995), writes a clear one-paragraph summary of a Girardian view of apocalypse:

The word ‘apocalypse’ means ‘unveiling.’ What, then, is veiled, the unveiling of which can have apocalyptic consequences? The answer is: violence. Veiled violence is violence whose religious or historical justifications still provide it with an aura of respectability and give it a moral and religious monopoly over any ‘unofficial’ violence whose claim to ‘official’ status it preempts. Unveiled violence is apocalyptic violence precisely because, once shorn of its religious and historical justifications, it cannot sufficiently distinguish itself from the counter-violence it opposes. Without benefit of religious and cultural privilege, violence simply does what unveiled violence always doesit incites more violence. In such situations, the scope of violence grows while the ability of its perpetrators to reclaim that religious and moral privilege diminishes. The reciprocities of violence and counter-violence threaten to spin completely out of control.

To go back just a bit and talk about violence from a Girardian perspective, the first thing to say is that humans are made in such a way that our desires are always mediated, that is, called into being by other people. We learn to desire from the very start according to the desire of a social other; desire is wholly dependent on relationship. We think we are individuals but we are entirely interdividuals (Girard’s coinage). We think we have autonomy, spontaneously desiring and acting, but we do not. We spend a lot of energy hanging onto this notion and protecting it, wanting to believe that we originate our own desire. And whether we see ourselves as originals or imitators, both perceptions belie a shoring up of identity based on ‘the other,’ based on relationship with the other … Am I like you or not like you?

Second, our desires are mimetic, i.e., we imitate each other unconsciously or unknowingly, and also consciously and intentionally at times.  We share desires among ourselves and we can either cooperate towards them — this is called love, compassion, generosity, etc., and is related to a sense of abundance — or we can lock into competition, conflict, and rivalry with other desirers — this is called hatred, resentment, envy, and it’s related to an experience of scarcity.

Envy, says Girard (in an 18 Sept  2005 interview with Robert Harrison, transcript available), “is the emotion that plays the greatest role in our society…. The real repression is the repression of envy. … You cannot help imitating your model. It’s the most difficult to acknowledge because it involves your whole being, you know. In a way, envy is a denial of one’s own being, and accepting the fact that you prefer the being of your rival.”

From suppressed envy comes resentment (ressentiment in French, “a psychological state arising from suppressed feelings of envy and hatred that cannot be acted upon, frequently resulting in some form of self-abasement”). When rivals fight (however subtly or outwardly, whether one-on-one or collectively), “one of them may win out over the other and regain his illusion of autonomy; the other will then be humiliated to the point of seeing his adversary as sacred. This attraction-repulsion is at the base of all pathologies of resentment” (Girard, Battling to the End: Conversations with Benoit Chantre, 2010)

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SIDEBAR: Interestingly, Franklin Foer, in an article titled Apocalypse Now: What’s Behind the Volatile Mood of Today’s American — and European — Voters,” a review of Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra in the New York Times (13 Feb. 2017) comments: “The market society, [John Jacques] Rousseau warned, would dangerously unmoor individuals. He saw how humans aspired to surpass one another in wealth and status, which meant they were capable of great cruelty. The modern world weakened religion and the family, the emotional buffers that provided comfort. Without these supports, individuals came to depend on the opinions of others for their sense of self-worth, which inflicted terrible cases of insecurity, envy and self-hatred. This, in Mishra’s argument, remains the nub of the world’s problems: ‘An existential resentment of other people’s being, caused by an intense mix of envy and sense of humiliation and powerlessness, ressentiment, as it lingers and deepens, poisons civil society and undermines political liberty, and is presently making for a global turn to authoritarianism and toxic forms of chauvinism.”

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Third, we’re most likely to imitate people who are similar to ourselves, or whom we see as similar to ourselves. We want what they want, and we want to be them, partake of their being, in some way. But rivals experience each other as totally different, as “other,” though to those looking at it from outside, the two antagonists look exactly the same, and the more they hate each other, the more they resemble each other.

Finally, we’re not only acquisitively mimetic — that is, we imitate each other in acquiring what we desire; we are also accusatively mimetic — that is, we band together to accuse another. The first kind of mimesis seems to divide us (we fight over desires), while the second seems to unite us and bring peace because we are all unified in desiring to do away with someone else.

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To prevent the violence that flows from our conflicted desires, cultures establish boundaries, systems of differentiation: “People are given names, body markings, prohibitions, social roles, moral rules, and so on, to keep them from becoming too much alike. … People who are either too much alike for genetic reasons (like identical twins) or too different (like “colored” people) are considered dangerous. Their biological difference threatens to reveal that cultural systems of sacred differentiation are actually artificial.” (Britt Johnston, in “Why Does God Allow Evil?,” 2006)

Bob Hamerton-Kelly (in an essay that’s no longer online and whose title I didn’t record) explained well the origins of religion in violence:

“Human desire is radically imitative; we learn from the other what to desire, thus come to desire the same thing because the other desires it, and so fall into competition that turns violent.” … Because desire is contagious, violence is like a pandemic. In this turmoil of violence, the war of all against all, the social system reaches a culminating level of disorder and then spontaneously mutates back to order. It is a self-regulating, self-healing system, so there is no question of anyone deciding to enter into a contract, rather spontaneously the war of all against all becomes the war of all against one. … Thus the foundation of society is not a social contract, nor a natural affinity and mutual attraction, but a swerve in the symmetry of a self-healing system that throws up a victim, whose death in turn stabilizes the systemSociety is fundamentally the unity of the lynch mob. …

The mob [way back in history] pauses before the body of the first victim and to its astonishment realizes that it has experienced its first moment of peace and unanimity. Violent desire stops {briefly]. From this surprised tranquility flow the fatal misinterpretations.

The first and fundamental misunderstanding is that the victim was the cause of the violent disorder. If by his death he brings peaceful order, in his life he must have caused the violent disorder. He is, therefore, very powerful; he is a god, the creator of the world, in the sense of the order of culture and society.

This misunderstanding [that the victim was the cause of the disorder] unfolds along three lines, all of which are religious.”

Ritual: If one death brings order to the society at last, regular deaths might maintain order. So the sacrificial death is ritually institutionalized. Girard’s central belief about all religion is that it is founded on a particular ritualthe ritual of sacrifice. Sacrifice – the art of making the victim sacred — occurs in a culture as a way to bring peace and unity in the face of conflicts and divisions.

Sacrifice is seen as a non-violent, or less violent, or justifiably violent, way to keep the community from worse violence. Humans make a solid distinction between sacred violence and profane violence, though they are really one and the same — they’re equally violence; but we perceive them to be completely different from each other and in fact we are very attached to the distinction we make between these violences.

Myth: Creation stories that “occlude the primal murder and present the dying creator as either the victim of an accident, or a mysterious tragic destiny, or willing, or deserving of death. Myth never discloses that he died by the hand of the mob and that his death is a disclosure of your violence and mine in and through the mob. We hold our mob innocent and non-violent and transfer all responsibility for violence to the victim. He deserved it, invited it, or it was an accident; we are not to blame. Culture comes into being as a cover-up of our own violence.”

Prohibitions: Remembering that “the erasure of differences caused the violence of unbridled competition, therefore we avoid behavior that threatens to erase distinctions.” We create prohibitions and taboos to prevent too much similarity or seeming similarity.

So, to recap, as Cynthia Havens writes in her recent biography of René Girard, Evolution of Desire (2018), Girard “overturned three widespread assumptions about the nature of desire and violence: first, that our desire is authentic and our own; second, that we fight from our differences, rather than our sameness; and third, that religion is the cause of violence, rather than an archaic solution for controlling violence within a society, as he would assert.”

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Cultures (as well as individuals and allied groups) elude responsibility for their violence by sacralizing it, ritualizing it, and justifying it as a sacred act — as Paul Nuechterlein writes, “Sacrificial violence is a sacred, sanctioned violence that comes into place in order to keep in check the fearsome profane, random violence” — and to do this the culture requires itself to perpetually misunderstand what it’s doing (Girard uses the French word ‘méconnaissance’ for this necessary misapprehension.)

In his essay titled “Sacrifice and the Sacred,” Matthew Becklo at Strange Notions summarises the situation: “According to Girard, ancient human societies were destabilized by mimetic conflicts: two parties who desired the same object would start to imitate each other’s desire until the rivalry erupted into a kind of contagion which threatened to destroy the whole community. Then, a hidden mechanism was triggered which transferred the blame onto a third party, one that was either uniquely strong (e.g., a mighty king) or uniquely feeble (e.g., a decrepit itinerant). The collective sacrifice and sacralization of this figure, enshrined in religion, was a sort of release valve that restored peace and order in the community.”

Almost all ancient cultures regularly performed ritual religious sacrifices. At least 5000 years ago in Europe, “Danish farmers sacrificed their stone axes and flint tools, their amber jewellery and their food, by depositing them in pots, together with human offerings, in bogs. Probably the earliest case in the world is that of two girls found at Sigersdal near Copenhagen, killed about 3500 BC. One was about 16 while the other, who was about 18, still had a cord around her neck.”

During the Iron Age in Europe ( c.750 BC to AD 43),

many bodies have been found completely preserved in peat bogs” and in places “where people had made offerings to an afterworld [in Denmark, Germany, Holland]. It seems clear that these were not murders, but deliberate, socially sanctioned, killings. Writing much later, in the first century AD, the Roman historian Tacitus tells us that these Germanic peoples executed their social outcasts — cowards, shirkers and those of disrepute — by pressing them down into bogs,” where they also made inanimate offerings.  Human sacrifice was practised in China, Egypt, Rome, and in the Americas; “Aztec priests believed that the sacrifices they performed in the temples on top of pyramids — cutting out the still-beating heart of their victims with the blood flowing down the steps of the pyramid — were necessary to keep the sun on its daily path. … Within the Inca empire of South America, children and teenagers were sacrificed to the sun god, bestowing considerable prestige on the child’s parents and on their local community.

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And now we come to the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Girard’s contention (and James Alison’s, quoted below) is that the Jewish texts, starting with the story of Cain and Abel, “gradually dissociate the divinity from participation in violence until, in the NT, God is entirely set free from participation in our violence — the victim is entirely innocent and hated without cause — and indeed God is revealed not as the one who expels us, but the One whom we expel, and who allowed himself to be expelled so as to make of his expulsion a revelation of what he is really like, and of what we really, typically do to each other, so that we can begin to learn to get beyond this.” (James Alison, “Girard’s Breakthrough,” 1996) The scapegoat is the focus of many a Bible story, and the victim is revealed as such over and over again, though not every time. The Hebrew Scriptures show how tough it is for us to kick the idolatry habit, even to come to monotheism.

The Hebrew scriptures are “texts in travail” — struggling to finally, clearly give voice to the victim. Even in the story of Cain and Abel, Abel’s blood cries out from the ground and is heard. Jesus’s death at the hands of his accusers reveals the vacuous power of such expelling violence. His death represents an act of “righteous” violence — i.e., an act of violence justified by one of our violent gods (whom we are deluded in seeing as God). His death reveals our enslavement to violence and reveals God’s righteousness as non-violence, radical non-retaliation, forgiveness of enemies, not vengeance.

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SIDEBAR: I highly recommend Kelly Thompson’s interview in Guernica, “Lacy M. Johnson: Moving the Conversation Toward Justice,” 17 Oct. 2018, in which Johnson says, “our narratives [of redemptive justice] are not necessarily serving us from the perspective of building real justice in the world.” Johnson was kidnapped, held in a soundproofed room, and raped by someone who had been her boyfriend when she was in her 20s:

Everybody assumed I would want him not only punished, but killed, and that was so surprising to me. I was shocked by it. It bothered me so much. I started thinking, and wondering, What’s with that? Where does that come from? But it’s a very ancient impulse, older than the Bible even, the sort of eye for an eye that we find in Leviticus. And it goes all the way back to the Code of Hammurabi, written laws dating back to about 1754 BC, which, interestingly, meant to put an upper limit on vengeance rather than to suggest that vengeance or retribution should be a mandate.

Perhaps it’s an innate instinctual impulse to want to harm the person who harmed you, not just the way that they harmed you, but to completely destroy them as a way to get even. We feel like there would be pleasure in that, or that it is a natural desire. I just wanted to put some pressure on that idea, and see if there are in fact other ways of being, and also to think about what kind of harm we perpetuate by insisting on that mode of justice, if it is justice at all.

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Jesus’s death continues the process of progressive unveiling of sanctioned violence, showing it to be simply violence. It does so because the victim’s perspective is actually available to challenge the perpetrators’ false interpretation. But — this unveiling removes our bulwark against apocalyptic mimetic violence; the only other bulwark against it is to live God’s desire, which is love and pacific mimesis, giving up all claims to difference.

So, in the Girardian construction, Jesus’s death was not a substitutionary atonement — i.e., God killing Jesus instead of us, letting Jesus take the rap for our sin. It’s we who are the killers, not God. Jesus doesn’t win our salvation but launches it through revealing the nature of reality and the nature of human culture. It’s not our sins that put Jesus on the cross. It’s the Satanic sin par excellence of scapegoating: i.e., of accusing, judging, and executing, and lying to ourselves about how blameless we are.

This is radically different from the usual Christian way of understanding Jesus’s death and resurrection.

Mark Heim in Saved from Sacrifice (2006), directly addresses the role of violence in the Bible:

“What is violence doing in the Bible? It is telling us the truth, the truth about our human condition, about the fundamental dynamics that lead to human bloodshed, and most particularly, the truth about the integral connection between religion and violence. …

It is showing us the nature of the mimetic conflict that threatens to destroy human community. It is showing us the religious dynamic of scapegoating sacrifice that arises to allay such crisis. It is letting us hear the voices of the persecuted victims and their pleas for revenge and vindication. It is showing God’s judgment (even violent judgment) against violence, and most particularly, God’s siding with the outcast victims of scapegoating persecution. The Old Testament is an antimyth. It is thick with bodies, the voices of victims and threatened victims. This landscape is either the product of an idiosyncratic, bloodthirsty imagination or the actual landscape of history and religion. If the latter, then what is remarkable is not that the scriptures describe it, but that we should think it normal not to.

Girard says in Evolution and Conversion that “[i]deologies are not violent per se, rather it is man who is violent. Ideologies provide the grand narrative which covers up our victimary tendency. They are mythical happy endings to our histories of persecution.”

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We who live post-Bible, post-Resurrection, we “moderns,” have been in the process of desacralizing violence, of coming to see it for what it is (just violence), a gradual but inevitable process begun when the veil was lifted from our eyes by the Judeo-Christian revelation. Some would say that the Enlightenment got us where we are today, that “[w]e’re growing up out of our superstitious, childish beginnings. For this desacralized modern society, we no longer have recourse, then, to violence sanctioned by the gods. It is simply our own sanctioned violence working to contain the unsanctioned (i.e., profane) violence. The question is whether or not a humanly sanctioned violence is transcendent enough to work. Or will we eventually end up in a sacrificial crisis with no new solutions of sanctioned, sacrificial violence? Enlightenment humanism offers us the truth of desacralization. … But that leaves us with only human possibilities to arrive at the solutions to our violence. [Humanists] are correct to reject the sacralized solutions offered by the false gods. But does this position also preclude the fact that the true God might be trying to offer us a wholly different alternative?” (Paul Nuechterlein, Opening Comments on Apocalyptic)

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Here’s where we finally make a return to the idea — and the likelihood — of Apocalypse. The veil has been lifted: we are coming more and more to recognise that sacred violence, religious violence, justified violence, is in fact, just violence. We can’t whitewash and smokescreen our true motives like we used to be able to do, in pre-modern times. That’s good, and bad:

As more and more people come to see the revelation (apocalypse in the Greek) of sacred violence, however, it also means the increasing ineffectiveness of the sacrificial institutions to contain mimetic violence. The times of sacrificial crises increasingly come closer together, and what looms on the horizon is the possibility of a truly apocalyptic violence: a sacrificial crisis in which a new sacrificial solution cannot assert itself because the revelation of the cross has finally made such solutions impossible. In short, the Apocalypse would be a sacrificial crisis that doesn’t result in a new sacrificial solution — no sanctioned violence to contain the random, mimetic violence.  … Girard contends that this is why the New Testament is realistic about the possibility of apocalyptic violence — because it is the Gospel itself which disarms the powers of sacred violence.

The frightening alternative to enlightenment humanism has been the desperate attempts at sacred violence in the past century, resulting in genocides. Nazism is still the most infamous but, unfortunately isn’t the only one. In our current attempts to wipe out terrorism, how desperate will our sacred violence become?” (Paul Nuechterlein, Opening Comments on Apocalyptic)

It seems to me that this what Girardian anthropology would predict: As humans more and more see (because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, and what it reveals through the intelligence of the victim of the societal mechanism for creating so-called peace) that violence is simply and completely violence — that there is no true distinction between sanctioned violence and any other kind of violence — and as we struggle at the same time to come to terms with our own relational and personal violence — still sometimes attributing our violent acts as imitation of a sacredly violent God, sometimes believing there is no god and that we have to save ourselves from violence and war through meditation, affirmation, good deeds, enlightened thought, and so on — and often fail in controlling our violence impulses, we need an explanation for this cognitive dissonance, a reason why we don’t seem to act on what we believe … OK, so far, that’s just simple psychology, the cognitive dissonance thing, but the explanation we seem most comfortable with is what seems Girardian to me: I have to do this little bit of violence, nasty though I know it to be (maybe), to keep much, much worse violence from happening.

In other words, it’s the same explanation cultures have offered for centuries. It’s how we comfort ourselves as we destroy.

I wrote this in Jan. 2006:

What if human civilisation is entirely founded and maintained upon the entrenched and largely unquestioned belief that the way to live in peace is to kill, expel, destroy, blame, marginalise, root out, get rid of, cut off, exorcise, seek vengeance against, weed out, tune out, slander and libel, speak against, make an example of, mock, attack, go to war against … and in any other way do anything but embrace the other? And what if each of us can see others doing it, but not ourselves, because our own actions seem justified and maybe even sanctified in our own eyes?

This, I think, is our plight as humans. And even when we’re aware of this mechanism, it’s hard to recognise in ourselves in the moment. And when we do recognise it in ourselves, it’s almost but not quite impossible to act differently.

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I was reading recently about how Jews were blamed and killed for the Black Death in Europe in the mid-1300s (almost 600 years before the rise of Hitler). The formulation then for rationalising their extermination was something like this: We’re not persecuting Jews because they’re Jewish and weird (they’re not like us) and somewhat wealthier as a whole than we Christians, and because we envy, loathe, and fear them as “other;” no, it’s not persecution of an enemy at all but simply protecting God-fearing Christians from disease, and in fact have you noticed that many fewer Jews are dying of the Plague [probably due to their sanitary rituals]? Why should that be … unless they are causing it, by poisoning our water and wells, because they hate us and want to eradicate us?

Once the Jews were accused of poisoning the wells, a wave of pogroms ensued. In January 1349, the entire Jewish community in the city of Basel was burned at the stake. The Jewish communities of Freiburg, Augsburg, Nurnberg, Munich, Konigsberg, Regensburg, and other centers, all were either exiled or burned. In Worms, in March 1349, the entire Jewish community committed suicide. In Cologne, the Jews were forced to flee.

In Mainz, which had the largest Jewish community in Europe, the Jews defended themselves against the mob and killed over 200 Christians. Then the Christians came to take revenge. On one day alone, on August 24, 1349, they killed 6,000 Jews in Mainz.

Of the 3,000 Jews in Erfurt, none survived the attack of the Christian mobs. By 1350, those Jews that survived the Black Death itself were destroyed by the ravages of the mobs. The Jewish communities in Antwerp and Brussels were entirely exterminated in 1350. There were almost no Jews left in Germany or the Low Countries by 1351. (Source)

This, despite that the official Church position on Jews was that they should be protected; the Christian people (the mob) by and large didn’t agree.

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So, to a greater or lesser extent,  we no longer quite believe our own lies about why we expel others, indeed why we are so intent on demonizing “others” (who resemble us in many ways, in fact who may demonize us for exactly the same reason), and about why we do violence to each other on an interpersonal, societal, international level. We don’t think we can restore order, bring peace, allay existential anxiety, solve the contagion of all-against-all conflict by scapegoating the king or the diseased or the demonic or by sacrificing the pure — though we still try, over and over, in small and enormous ways over the centuries, but in modern times in almost all cultures around the world, there are always those who would, by refusing to do violence, shame us for this, who shudder in compassion at our injustice, who would call us out on our scapegoating. No one wants their scapegoats revealed to them. It’s hard to really enjoy that temporary feeling of tranquility and pseudo-order that the ritual of sacrifice lent a society, when increasingly the society is noticing a sort of pattern of “violence to cure violence” and wondering where that will end.

sacrificial crisis … occurs when the effectiveness of the sacrificial institutions is waning such that the sacrificial violence loses its effectiveness in containing profane violence. If a new sacrificial solution does not come into play, then the profane violence grows into apocalyptic violence. Throughout human history we see cycles of being on the verge of such violence and then new sacrificial solutions come into play to again bring relative peace. During the sacrificial crises, there are often cries of the Final Apocalypse, a violence that will finally consume us. And in sacralized settings, this apocalyptic violence is attributed to the deity: the gods will bring a resounding judgment that will punish the wicked and reward the just. To the mind under the influence of the Sacred, apocalyptic violence is the ultimately divine sacred violence.

But Girard argues that the continuing effect of the Gospel in history is to desacralize, i.e., to make it clear to us that violence is not of the true God; violence is ours alone. (Paul Nuechterlein, Opening Comments on Apocalyptic)

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An apocalypse, as we’ve said, is an unveiling, a revelation, a seeing. When our own violence is unveiled, it has ‘apocalyptic’ consequences. Before the unveiling, our own violence seemed respectable and justified; afterwards, we see it for the violence, hatred, rivalry, and envy that it is.

Girard writes extensively about apocalypse in “On War and Apocalypse” in the Aug/Sept 2009 issue of First Things, including this:

… [D]emystification, which is good in the absolute, has proven bad in the relative, for we were not prepared to shoulder its consequences. We are not Christian enough.

The paradox can be put in a different way: Christianity is the only religion that has foreseen its own failure. This prescience is known as the apocalypse. Indeed, it is in the apocalyptic texts that the word of God is most forceful, repudiating mistakes that are entirely the fault of humans, who are less and less inclined to acknowledge the mechanisms of their violence. The longer we persist in our error, the stronger God’s voice will emerge from the devastation. …

A scapegoat remains effective as long as we believe in its guiltHaving a scapegoat means not knowing that we have one. Learning that we have a scapegoat is to lose it forever and to expose ourselves to mimetic conflicts with no possible resolution. This is the implacable law of the trend to extremes. The protective system of scapegoats is finally destroyed by the Crucifixion narratives as they reveal Jesus’ innocence and, little by little, that of all analogous victims. The process of education away from violent sacrifice thus got underway, but it moved very slowly, making advances that were almost always unconscious. It is only today that it has had increasingly remarkable results in terms of our comfort — and at the same time proved ever more dangerous for the future of life on Earth.

To make the revelation wholly good and not threatening at all, humans have only to adopt the behavior recommended by Christ: Abstain completely from retaliation and renounce the trend to extremes. Indeed, if the trend to extremes continues, it will lead straight to the extinction of all life on the planet.

Girard writes in Battling to the End that “Christ took away humanity’s sacrificial crutches and left before us a terrible choice: either believe in violence, or not; Christianity is non-belief.”

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pophamdunesandcrossapril2008

Resources

René Girard, Battling to the End: Conversations with Benoit Chantre, 2010. French title: Achever Clausewitz; Clausewitz is Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831), the Prussian military theoretician who wrote On War.

René Girard, “On War and Apocalypse”, First Things, Aug/Sept 2009.

René Girard, Entitled Opinions, interview with Robert Harrison, 18 Sept  2005. Partial transcript availableAudio of whole interview (mp3).

René Girard, Intellectuals as Castrators of Meaning: An Interview with Réne Girard. Girard interviewed by Giulio Meotti in Il Foglio, March 20, 2007, reprinted at First Principles in Sept. 2008.

Paul Nuechterlein, Opening Comments on Apocalyptic, Girardian Reflections on the Lectionary, last revised Nov. 2015.

James Alison, “Girard’s Breakthrough,” 1996. Really everything by James Alison is worth reading.

James Alison, Raising Abel: The Recovery of the Eschatological Imagination, 1996.

James Alison, The Joy of Being Wrong: Original Sin Through Easter Eyes, 1998.

Cynthia Haven, Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard, 2018.

Cynthia Haven, “History is a test. Mankind is failing it: Rene Girard scrutinizes the human condition from creation to apocalypse,” by Cynthia Haven, Stanford Magazine, July/Aug 2009.

Mark Heim, Saved from Sacrifice: A Theology of the Cross, 2006

Gil Bailie, Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads, 1995.

Featured photo is of part of the “Sorrow” sculpture at the Path of Life, Windsor, VT. Final photo is at Popham Beach, Phippsburg, Maine.

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