Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Understanding Egypt (deuxième partie) ...Battling to the End

... and as soon as you are done reading Rene Girard's "Things Hidden" go immediately to ...

Battling to the End

[Stressing the importance of Girard's work and his total reliance on the Christian revelation, Battling to the End is a must read.]

The Escalation to Extremes

"Christ took away humanity's sacrificial crutches and left us before a terrible choice: either believe in violence, or not; Christianity is non-belief."

"However, we actually have to go back several thousand years.  This is the effort we have to make to discover what violence is all about.  This is why there is an anthropological interpretation of original sin: original sin is vengeance, never-ending vengeance.  It begins with the murder of the rival.  Religion is what enables us to live with original sin, which is why a society without religion will destroy itself.  Vengeance does not exist among animals; they never place themselves in such danger.  Only the conjunction of intelligence and violence makes it possible to speak of original sin and it justifies the idea of a real difference between animals and humans.  This constitutes the greatness of all religions, with the exception of Christianity, which abolishes the provisional function of sacrifice.  Sooner or later, either humanity will renounce violence without sacrifice or it will destroy the planet.  Humanity will be either in a state of grace or in mortal sin.  Thus, we can say that religion may have invented sacrifice, but Christianity takes it away."

" one ever begins anything, except by grace.  To sin means to think that one can begin something oneself.  We never start anything; we always respond.  The other has always decided for me and forces me to answer.  The group always decides for the individual.  This is the law of religion.  What is "modern" exists only in the obstinate rejection of this obvious social truth, in clinging to its individualism."

"We also have to point out the other face of human relations: violent mimesis.  We have to show that it is at the root of all institutions, which are based on the scapegoat mechanism...  Mimesis is thus both the cause of the crisis and the means of resolving it.  The victim is always made divine after the sacrifice.  The myth is thus the lie that hides the founding lynching, which speaks to us about the gods, but never about the victims that the gods used to be.  Rituals then repeat the initial sacrifice and repetition of rituals gives birth to institutions, which are the only means that humanity has found to postpone the apocalypse.  This is why peaceful mimesis is possible only in the framework of an established institution that was founded long before.  It is based on learning and maintaining cultural codes." p 21-22

Holderlin's Sorrow

"The Psalms reveal that violent people are not the ones who talk about violence, but that it is the peaceful people who make it speak.  The Judeo-Christian revelation exposes what myths always tend to silence.  Those who speak of "peace and security" are now their heirs: despite everything, they continue believing in myths and do not want to see their own violence."

"The positivity of history should not be eliminated, but shifted.  The rationality that mimetic theory seeks to promote is based entirely on the shift.  Saying that chaos is near is not incompatible with hope, quite the contrary.  However, hope has to be seen in relation to an alternative that leaves only the choice between total destruction and realization of the Kingdom." p 118-119

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