I’ve heard a lot about René Girard for years and been intrigued, but had yet to get around to reading him. I’m finally making my way through one of his books, and I love it. I will now probably read most, or much, of what he’s written. He is an original thinker and captures so much that is just over-looked or not dealt with adequately. His writing is simple, but profound. From the book:
“The resurrection of Christ crowns and finishes both the subversion and the unmasking of mythology, or archaic ritual, of everything that insures the foundation and perpetuation of human cultures. The Gospels reveal everything that human beings need to under-stand their moral responsibility with regard to the whole spectrum of violence in human history…”
We might say that with the death and resurrection of Christ (which is not simply the coming back to life—this life—it is not like the raising of Lazarus) we see the end of religion. Christ does not found another ‘religion’ or myth; he puts an end to both. He does this peacefully and it is in that very peace that religion is ended, because religion and myth are founded and perpetuated by violence. The Christian narrative isn’t something added, placed over, or is in addition to something already in existence. Rather, ‘religion’ and myth are the additions, the result of the fractures in, or the “Fall” of, creation and because of Christ are now only the vestigial remains (scars) to the wounds now healed.
Of course ‘religion’ is still with us but only as an echo, a ripple, a scar of pagan antiquity now manifest as a contrived secularism that tries to act as if it were the opposite of ‘religion’ or its negation. In fact, it is just the modern embodiment of ‘religion’, with the state/industry as church or sacred space, scientists/economists/financiers as priests, and material goods/physical pleasures as the chief end or teleology of man (which is why our physical environment is dying). Patriotism and capitalism are the twin fuels used by this church to continually identify the scapegoats, the ‘other’, those who threaten the sacred community and will re-act violently (ignite) to protect the ‘right’ of the community to seek its chief end (and the physical environment and those out-side the camp, be damned).
The Christian narrative acts as that which stands as an end to all such violent ‘religions’ and myths, because it is a sign of the true state of the natural/existence/creation, the steady state of whatever was before, what is possible now—though always fractured, and what is to come, which is eternal peace, shalom. Whether or not we live this out or lean this way, in this life, is another matter. Regardless, it is the ‘grain of the universe’, the course of all rivers, the beauty to which all desire points, and the Sabbath rest of all creation.