Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Brief Summary on Girard and Anthropology

Following up on the Girard - YouTube post...

Here is yet another excerpt from Entering the Biblical Story at the Eucharistic Table A talk given by Gil Bailie. If you get tired of these just let me know, because if left up to me I would vote that we spend all of our time digger deeper into these talks...

This is from the Q & A segment at the end of the tape.

Q: Can you talk about the mechanism of violence and anthropology?

When the 19th century anthropologist went out, by the way I am talking anthropology – I have a definition of anthropology that I haven’t told you yet. Anthropology is the study of cultures by people who no longer have one.  And you will notice that it was invented by the west about 200 or rather 150 years ago. Somebody once said about poetry; don’t write a poem unless you have to and you could say the same thing about anthropology. Don’t invent the science of anthropology unless you have to. We had to about 150 years ago. And the first anthropologists went out and started studying these other cultures and they came back with all sorts of data and they sorted through it and they said ah-ha! All over the place, wherever you look we have these dying and rising gods. We have these stories that are very interesting. There is a crisis; and there is a death; and there is reconciliation or a resolution or some kind of resurrection. They were all Enlightenment people so that means they didn’t know squat about religion, so they had this insight – the insight was Christianity was just another myth. And that idea was so radical at first that only the academics talked about it. That was before academics became famous and had press conferences. Then it trickled out and people started studying these things and it comes into the modern times, and I don’t want to scapegoat because I have read these people and gleaned a lot from their work, but Mircea Eliade, Joseph Campbell and all those people for whom Christianity is just another dying and rising myth. Gradually that language seeps into the church. Only in the last 30 years have we Christians started talking that way; unbelievable that we would talk that way.

Okay, anthropologists said that Christianity is just another myth because it is exactly the same thing as what they discovered all over the world. And we Christians said, no, no, it is not the same thing - ours is different. Oh yea, the anthropologists asked, how is it different? Well,..., ah,…, ah,…, well, you see, nails hurt more or something like that. We tried to account for it in whatever way or we fled the scene. Girard said, NO. You have to begin there. You have to say YES, you are right. If you want to recover Christianity’s universality, you don’t flee from that revelation you a firm it. Yes of course it is structurally identical to all of that. It had to be: it has it be, because all of that is a telling of the story that is false. All of that tells you the story from the point of view of the victimizing community. You get the crisis; you get the death; and you get reconciliation, but you never get the innocence of the victim, NEVER. Christianity presents something that is structurally identical and reverses the whole valence by creating a community of people who come together because they have heard the cock crow; they have seen the innocence of the victim; the scales have fallen from their eyes; they have seen the idolatry of the world and they have begun to see the face of the living God. So it has to be the same. And this is what I was trying to say earlier, when the world says no, we don’t counter that with some kind of over-against: yes, yes, yes – no, no, no like some chant in the school yard. We go deeper into the mystery until we can bring up an affirmation that brings in that negation that can affirm that negation itself, which is exactly what happened in this example of Girard saying yes, it is the same.

1 comment:

Athos said...

I typed this one up -- goodness! -- quite a few years ago, Aramis. But thanks for posting it; the Q/A in this particular tape of Bailie's is extraordinarily fruitful. When he wants to compact his diction, look out! Packed it will be, and powerful.