Thursday, March 19, 2009

The confusion between Gospel Meaning & Christian History

René Girard from his book, Evolution and Conversion: Dialogues on the Origins of Culture

Modern intellectuals tend to confuse the deep meaning of the Gospel with the history of Christianity, which is fundamentally the slow process of coping with the heritage of the sacred mentality and with our mimetic behaviour. Men could not possibly do away with the sacred altogether, dismissing at once the mentality they had lived with for thousands and thousands of years... Man has a tendency to relapse into the sacred, prompting violence to defend any idea or principle seen simply as sacred...

It is also true that the historical process for the growth of this awareness is not linear and it is quite complex... It took centuries for the Western world to acquire a Christian sensibility. During the Middle Ages there was a relationship with violence that remained quite pagan in many ways, and in which the scarcity of goods certainly played a key role...

Let me say this differently: Christ's crucifixion means that the victimary mechanism will no longer work, for no one can imagine that the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels might be guilty. Therefore, the mechanism itself is revealed as deceptive as well as fundamental to human culture. This is the paradox that we have to try to understand, and to which my work has been devoted. pp 259-261

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