R.I.P. René Girard (December 25, 1923 – Nov 4, 2015)

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R.I.P. René Girard (December 25, 1923 – Nov 4, 2015)

Post by KingsOfLion on Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:35 pm

René Girard (December 25, 1923 – Nov 4, 2015) was a revolutionary thinker whose major contribution to theology was showing how Christianity subverts mankind's propensity to violence by exposing the 'scapegoat mechanism' found throughout human culture.

His thesis of 'mimetic rivalry' demonstrated how cultures compete for the same object of desire which eventually escalates to violence. For the survival of a society a counter-force comes into play which moderates the violence and brings harmony back (albeit a temporary harmony) to the community. That counter-force is a 'scapegoat' onto which all blame can be laid. The scapegoat is isolated and helpless and so can be done away with without danger of retaliation (this mechanism can be seen in all cultures across all times - from biblical stories to the modern day office culture where one person is singled out for persecution, in order that everyone else can feel part of something that unites them).

Girard showed how Jesus Christ put a huge spanner in the cogs of the whole temple, sacrifice, god-appeasement system and introduced the nature of his 'papa' to the world who desired 'mercy not sacrifice' (Hosea 6:6). He showed how Jesus allowed himself to be a scapegoat in order to expose the 'satanic' (murderous/deceitful) system for what it truly is, and to demonstrate the true loving nature of his Father God. Many theologians and teacher/preachers are still unpacking Girard's theories and developing an orthopraxy based around them: theologians like Michael Hardin (Preaching Peace), Andre Rabe (AlwaysLoved) and teacher/pastors such as Brian McLaren to name but a few.

In a world that still justifies violence and uses the Bible (or any other 'sacred' text one cares to mention) to justify it, René Girard is a man whose ideas ought to be given weight in the corridors of power and allowed to filter into society's collective consciousness. It is how we treat the most helpless of society that defines who we truly are. Are we to continue in violence, looking for ways we can justify it, knowing all along that violence only begets violence... or are we to take the narrow way of Jesus which elevates the poor and weak, forgives enemies and keeps no records of wrongs?
An ask too far perhaps? but, if Girard is correct, we only want the same things that others want. What if enough of us desired peace, non-retaliation, reconciliaton that something in society at large started to shift?

An obituary from Stanford where René Girard was a professor can be found here.
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