Want to know the key to happiness? Save yourself a lot of therapy, shopping expeditions, chasing worthless idols, and time staring at yourself in a mirror (to see what others will see and how they will judge you)?
In his reflections on The Gospel of John, Gil Bailie says that Our Lord makes clear what it takes to be truly happy. "The key to happiness is to know who your Lord is. The key to unhappiness is to have about two dozen of them, and deny every one." This is a point stressed in the Farewell Discourses of John's Gospel -- knowing and doing the will of God as revealed in the kenotic, self-emptying, love of Jesus Christ.
But Bailie is making a different yet related point here. Moderns do our utmost to hide our role models, our mentors, those we copy and imitate. ("Who ME? I don't imitate anyone!") We are taught that to have models is to be cowardly, non-assertive, timid. Alternatively, we collude in the myth of "self-made" men and women. We quake at the thought of having our imitation found out, so we hide it (even from ourselves) at all costs.
But what René Girard's mimetic theory by definition teaches -- and the Bible knows about us so well -- is that humans are mimetic -- we cannot not imitate. Our sole freedom resides in choosing a model worthy of imitating.
The Christian faith in general and the Catholic Church in particular teaches that Jesus Christ is not only the Lord and Savior of the world, but the only Model worth imitating; he is the "external mediator," in Girard's parlance, the One who comes from outside the fallenness of the world dominated by Satan to rescue, redeem, and make whole.
Bailie will be at Washington Theological Union this Saturday, September 8th, at 9:30 a.m. If you are near the northern Virginia, Metro D.C. area, you may want to drop in.