Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Powers and Principalities - we cannot call the powers simply "diabolical"

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

Though not identical with Satan, the powers are all his tributaries because they are all servants of the false gods that are the offspring of Satan, that is, the offspring of the founding murder. So here it is not a matter of religion for the individual or belief in a purely individual sense, as modern people tend to hold. What we are talking about here are rather the social phenomena that the founding murder created.

The system of powers Satan has engendered is a concrete phenomenon, material and simultaneously spiritual, religious in a very special sense, efficacious and illusory at the same time. It is religion as illusion, which protects humans from violence and chaos by means of sacrificial rituals. Although this system is grounded in an illusion, its action in the world is real to the extent that idolatry, or false transcendence, commands obedience...

The powers, though always associated with Satan and based on the transcendence of Satan, are not "satanic" in the same sense as he is, even though they are his tributaries. Sacrificial rituals do not seek to become one with false transcendence; they do not aspire to mystical union with Satan. To the contrary, they try to keep this formidable figure at a distance and hold him at bay outside the community.

We cannot call the powers simply "diabolical," and we should not, under the pretext that they are "evil," systematically disobey them. It is the transcendence on which they are based that is diabolical. The powers are never strangers to Satan, it's true, but we cannot condemn them blindly. Moreover, in a world that is alien to the kingdom of God, they are indispensable to the maintenance of order, which explains the attitude of the Church toward them. St. Paul says the powers exist because they have a role to play as authorized by God. The apostle is too realistic to go off to war against the powers. He recommends that Christians respect them and even honor them as long as they require nothing contrary to Christian faith. pp 96-98

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