On Saturday, August 17th, I will appearing on the Iron Show live at 6pm Pacific time. Johnny should have a new gadget hooked up allowing him to receive phone calls, so it should be a lot of fun. Tune in at http://www.fringeradionetwork.com/
Then, after the show, there will be another opportunity to share thoughts, questions, and ideas at a site set up by our friend Paul Kennedy:
The subject of the show will be “The Scapegoat and the Cross.” We will be discussing ideas related to the intellectual research of French scholar Rene Girard, and how it all relates to the great epic love story that began in Genesis, was confirmed at the Cross, and will end in Revelation. We will talk about Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of God and the New Jerusalem, and how it contrasts with the Kingdom of Darkness which is portrayed in Scripture as “Babylon the Great.”
Today Babylon is ruled by the Mother of Harlots, identified as the Queen of Babylon in Revelation 18, but soon she will be replaced by the King of Babylon — the Antichrist described in Isaiah 14. Again, see http://www.redmoonrising.com/kingqueenbabylon.htm
We will talk about how Babylon was founded upon misplaced desire (Genesis 3) and murder (Genesis 4), and how “religion” in the pre-Christian world served to achieve two things: 1) To channel and control human desires and, 2) To justify violence as an acceptable way to maintain a relative form of peace and harmony within communities.
Rene Girard’s work is an attempt to explain the creation of “religion” in a non-supernatural context. Although I disagree with much of his theorizing he helps to explain why there is such a difference between pre-Christian societies as compared to the largely post-Christian secular societies of today. Before Christ it was “religion” that bound people together and confirmed their very identities, whereas today, at least in the Western world and by world leaders, religion is largely viewed with suspicion and anxiety. Girard has a good explanation for why this happened. He explains that there is a deep connection between religion, culture and violence, and his overall hypothesis is based on three basic themes:
1. The mimetic nature of Desire
2. The Scapegoat Mechanism
3. The Gospel as the answer to our misplaced desires and our constant return to violence
1. Concerning mimetic desire Girard shows that there are two parts to human desire: First, our needs and appetites which are largely biological and are thus easy to identify. Secondly, we all also carry with us cultural desires, which are constantly shifting, potentially unlimited, and infinitely varied. Mimetic comes from the word mimic, and it is our cultural desires which chiefly concern Girard, because these are desires that are mimicked and copied from each other. Humans learn from each other what it is they should desire, or what can bring fulfillment to their lives. Because of this, most humans are essentially very unstable and shaky personalities. The idea of a completely autonomous “self” is a lie, because we create each other by teaching each other what we should desire. Together we create our own value systems. However, there is a very big problem that comes up within communities that share the same desires. Girard demonstrates that mimetic desire by its very nature leads to violence. Misplaced desires ultimately and inevitably lead to rivalry, conflict, violence, and ultimately murder. This idea of Girard’s is actually a Scriptural truth given in James 1:13-15 and James 4:1-4.
2. Girard attempts to explain the origin of religion by looking at “mimetic desire” as the root of human conflict. He theorizes that early egalitarian cultures responded to the eruption of this violence by creating the “Scapegoat Mechanism.” This was the transfer of blame for the crisis of violence upon an individual or group. When the mass of feuding individuals finally cooperated to identify and then murder the scapegoat, this created peace in the community once again. Girard can point to many times throughout history where this process occurred, but I feel that his theory is weak as the answer for how religion was created in the first place. In any case, Girard believes that the killing of the scapegoat acted as a brake to curb the violence created in early cultures by desire. Once violence is channeled and released upon a victim then a cathartic release is experienced by the community with the end of the violence and a return to peace.
This primordial “murder” then leads to the founding of religion and civilization, according to Girard. He theorizes that in the aftermath of the scapegoat mechanism (the murder of the victim) there are three pillars that appear which uphold all forms of archaic sacrificial religion:
1) Myths – These “stories” tell the story of the persecution of the scapegoat from the perspective of the victor
2) Rites – The controlled repetition of the sacrificial action
3) Prohibitions – Steps taken to ensure that there will be no repetition of the rivalry that led to the crisis
Girard essentially sums up the conclusion of all of his intellectual research in one sentence:
“Violence is the heart and secret soul of the sacred.”
3. The bright spot in all of this is that Girard was led to embrace the message of the Gospel as the answer to the misguided value system perpetuated by “religion.” As the ultimate sacrifice Jesus put an end to the need for the shedding of innocent blood, (which occurred throughout paganism, but also in Judaism’s Old Covenant). Jesus became humanity’s final Scapegoat. By enduring all forms of violence without retaliating Jesus showed that we can put an end to all the “tit-for-tat” mimetic violence that under-girded all sacrificial religion and even all of our systems of law. Through His radical teachings on forgiveness and His willingness to be sacrificed Jesus actually transformed the human species at an anthropological level. The Gospel has transformed us culturally and changed our ingrained thought patterns that had been established by sacrificial religion. The Gospel is the anti-myth. Previous myths supported sacrificial religion by justifying violence, glorifying the hero, and looking at victims as nothing but trash. But Jesus willingly became the victim and opened up a whole new value system for us to embrace. He taught us to desire the right things: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…”
“The Cross has destroyed once and for all the cathartic power of the scapegoat mechanism. Consequently, the Gospel does not provide a happy ending to our history. It simply shows us two options… either we imitate Christ, giving up all our mimetic violence, or we run the risk of self-destruction.”
Today in the last days of Babylon the Great the world is at a crossroads and only two paths are there for us to choose from:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: But strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Join us on Saturday as we discuss what it means to be alive today witnessing the last days of Babylon, with all of its ungodly desires and violence, carrying in our hearts the ONLY answer that can save us from destruction.
The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
pdgoodgame at gmail dotcom