Don t ask yourself what the world needs Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that What the world needs is people who have come alive With these words, Gil Bailie s exploration of Rene Girard s work began.
Sacred violence helps to put an end to other forms of violence when it arose Cathartic violence ends social chaosDisdain for religion is no antidote for religious superstition e.
g all the bloody atheistic regimes Scripture s intent is to achieve a conversion of the human heart allowing humanity to dispense with organised violence without sliding into the abyss of uncontrollable violence.
If everyone is a victim, who is the victimiser Myth is fragile and survives only when its premises are accepted uncritically, while the gospel can be trashed and betrayed without fatally compromising its demythologising power.
Contrition is the specifically Christian form of lucidity.
The contest for respect between gangs and police often ends up with the two groups propagating violence becoming indistinguishable.
The central anthropological issue A brutal act done in the name of civilisation e.
g public execution Sacrificial rituals, when they work, transfer all the antagonism onto the scapegoat, dissolving them and replacing them with a social bond.
Those compelled by moral indignation to wreak vengeance are often blind to the absurdity of their actions.
Collective fascinations are no longer enthralled by the religious cult, instead turning to the modern celebrity.
Reactionary Not aware that sanctioned forms of violence are losing their power to restore order.
Revolutionary Unaware that converting moral outrage into complicity with the kind of behaviour that provoked the outrage is not going to lead anywhere.
Romantic Views transference of fascination as a good thing.
Mimetic desire Can never be satisfied.
You never get enough of what you don t really want.
We shape our lives according to our experience of God or whatever functions as a god for us.
Pleasing sacrifices are effective sacrifices.
Covetousness is wanting at the expense of others.
The stricter the ritual, the higher the chances of violating them are, and the greater the anxiety, the determined the scrupulosity Vicious cycle.
Sacred violence is violence that leaves no spirit of revenge in its wake.
God centredness confers immunity from the vortex of mimetic desire and rivalry.
The essence of Jesus sinlessness was his immunity to the contagion of desire.
Jews crucified Jesus, Jews also followed him.
Philosophy has become an intellectual bermuda triangle Something intriguing seems to be taking place, but whatever it is forever eludes existing methods of detection.
Philosophy is not so much the love of wisdom as the yearning for wisdom in her absence.
Metaphor was born to allow humans to avoid direct contact with the sacred OrtegaWe are restless till we rest in God St AugustineIn reality no purely intellectual process and no experience of a purely philosophical nature can secure the individual the slightest victory over mimetic desire and its victimage delusions Intellection can achieve only displacement and substitution, though these may give individuals the sense of having achieved a victory For there to be even the slightest degree of progress, the victimage delusion must be vanquished on the most intimate level of experience.
This Is A Girardian Influenced, Engagingly Written Classic On The Nature Of Violence And The Hope For Overcoming It In Our Conflict Ridden World It Is Also A Literary Work, An Often Miraculous Interplay Between Cultural Documents And Historical Periods Bailie s book examines our present historical crisis published 1995 in light of the work of Rene Girard.
Girard s anthropology explains the human mimetic condition which in times of crisis results in violence The violence murder is like a fever which builds, and peaks, and breaks the crisis Peace is restored, but the memory of the violence morphs into myth, suppressing the actual violence by sanctifying it and ritualizing it And the myth the this is who we are creates a culture The monkey wrench that was thrown into this universal pattern was the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Because his followers, Jews who had been formed in the gradual myth questioning process of the Hebrew Scriptures, proclaimed their experience of his resurrection, and that he was an innocent victim He was not a god, but a human person History replaced mythology as the founding basis of their community.
This is a chunk to digest in one gulp Despite the monkey wrench of Christianity, the human condition has not changed overnight, nor will it The ancient anthropological pattern persists But there is now an alternative pattern And it has infected the old one, creating a crisis of choice, for individuals and for communities Christianity has introduced a struggle between one way of human being and the other It offers a choice and a change Not easy And not of one s own design We did not figure this out, any than we created the world It was revealed gradually through the Hebrew Scriptures, and culminated in the Jesus experience.
Bailie illustrates this idea using specific examples of myths old and new , and through the emergence of change through the Hebrew prophets especially, and through the Gospels definitively He offers too, striking illustrations in contemporary events the Rodney King incident in 1991, Naziism, the massacre in El Mozote, the new nationalism , etc This is not a theology But to one versed in the Gospel, all the familiar theological pieces fall into place, and the picture it creates is stunning Bailie holds out a way of seeing the Kingdom that Jesus prayed for, a Peaceable Kingdom.
If ever there has been a book that changed the direction of my life, this would be it Poetic, hyperbolic and inaccurate in spots, gloriously filled with faith, carefully crafted, and a good introduction to what is referred to as Girardian theory Many better books have been written about this brilliant thinker, Rene Girard, but many of us were introduced to Girard by Bailie If i was trying to introduce Girard to someone now, this book would probably not cross my mind Michael Hardin or James Alison, James Warren or Wolfgang Palatzer would be my recommendations today but 20 years ago this lovely book was the one that started me on a different path I recently reread it over a rainy day and remembered very specific moments through the book I feel certain that had this book not been written Girard would still be an obscure academic Thanks to Gil, and so many others the world is changing in response to the work of Rene Girard.
This is an amazing book with tons of insights into the formation of human culture and the role Jesus death and resurrection played in teaching the world about the myth of sacred violence Bailie is trying to describe the insights of Rene Girard, a French cultural critic, who is a prolific but difficult to understand writer Even my very intelligent husband gave up on Girard and searched for an easier read Girard believes that humanculture was founded on violence as a way to create cohesion among groups of people Just think about how countries band together in times of war Sacred Violence is the role religion plays in given violence legitimacy Bailie s book isn t for the lighthearted, either, however It took stamina to read the first half of the book where he lays the groundwork of Girard s theory The last half of the book became much interesting as he applied the theory to the Old and New Testaments My effort was well worth it, though I had many aha moments that really got me thinking If you ve ever wondered how the God of love could be so violent in the Old Testament, you should read this book I recommend another book for those interested in a very easy to read introduction to the topic It s called The Wicked Truth When Good People Do Bad Things Suzanne is a friend of mine who introduced me to Girard s theory She uses the musical Wicked to explain Girard s theory about mimetic desire and scapegoating She uses lots of interesting examples from her own personal life, too If you ve seen Wicked or read the book by McGuire, check out Suzanne s book.
I too found the book provocative and somewhat convincing The only thing I would add to the existing reviews is that Bailie puts a cultural spin on the redemptive value of the crucified Christ The symbol of the crucified Christ as it has been passed down through history, he maintains, exposes the vestiges of primitive religion in contemporary culture that use various forms of acceptable violence to satisfy a kind of a blood thirst Sounds weird, yes, but Bailie makes a credible case See for yourselves.
This book changed my understanding of Christianity and the meaning of the cross of Christ It forced my Christian views to go deeper than ever before I won t say I understand it all now, or that I believe without reservations But forcing a better and thoughtful understanding was powerful for me.
Rene Girard s work on sacrificial culture, Christian theology, and modern theory remains for me the most compelling work of the past decades Apparently the same can be said of Gil Bailie, a Christian theologian who heads his own California institute This book is an extended reflection and restatement of Girard s importance for modern evangelicals Worth reading, but perhaps the casual reader would do better to go straight to Girard himself read on the train ride back home.
Appalling and glorious both.