Marcion and Girard

Thank you "Former-Saul" for your comment:

…The “trying on of new lens” smacks of the “open mindedness” that several modern and historical groups have used for peoples lack of buy in to their choices…as recent as last week when a drug abusing friend of mine told me I wasn’t open minded enough to understand why he does what he does. It seems a popular fallback position for “fringe” ideas. Be fore I turned 40, if you would have asked me what I thought of Christians my response would have been, “not much but I sure wouldn’t wanna be one!”… So when It comes to Copernian shifts, I get it. So it appears to me that your view is simply another Marcionite take on things…ignoring the huge sections of scripture that don’t fit into your present, preconcived lens… …I really would like to understand your position.

There is open-mindedness (bad sense) that is of course anything from a self-justification for errant thinking and bad behaviour, to an evasion of commitment. But there is open-mindedness (good sense) without which we fail to grow or learn or live. My ardent hope is that I lean to the latter. No doubt I have too often been found in the former. I am sincerely indebted to anyone who would steer me right.

God knows I have preconceptions that need pruning and lenses that need squeegeeing. But lenses just the same. If post-modernism has taught us anything it is that we are never without lenses…that we are contingent beings unable to escape our subjectivity. (We were of course foolish to try, as the Enlightenment has shown us.)

Perhaps then, the better way to approach this "sacrificial" thing is to try to find the story that best fits the story. A kind of search for existential verification. While post-modernity has bequeathed some questionable ideas, this is one of post-modernisms good gifts. Something we humans have always done is tell stories.

Marcion wanted to tell a radically truncated rendition. I may need correction but I recall that Marcion was intent on jettisoning the whole of the Old Testament and anything that he sensed as Semite in the NT. A theology professor I had felt however that Marcion should at least get credit for getting the "Father’s" to quit dragging their feet and round up all the letters and the writings that later became the New Testament canon. So we need at least to thank Marcion for this contribution.

Now then, if Rene Girard inspires theologians to throw fresh light on the "traditional-sacrificial" story making it again the more compelling story, then he has served a Marcionesque purpose. And we all benefit. I am truly open-(minded) to this.

As I’ve said, the story I’ve come to inhabit was not sought by me. I was relatively content with a form of dispensationalism that included without me realizing it, a form of Arianism…that is, God needed to be violent in the past but then Christ came and he was now offering grace from his wrath, although, because he is just, will have to be apocalyptically violent again sometime in the future. Well, my moving away from this story wasn’t because it failed to tell a kind of encompassing story, it was because I was blind-sided by an infinitely better story, a story moreover that read me (crucified me).

In retrospect, the "blind-siding" was a long time coming. My only explanation for this was my decision, nine years ago now, to hang my life on a piece of scripture: "…to know nothing but Christ, and him crucified." This in turn lead me to Merton et al, then to the Benedictines, although there’s nothing "special" about this, except that I then found myself in the company of James Alison and finally Rene Girard. (Are we not always lead to the transcendent through particular humans? There’s a certain beauty about that.)

So I do appreciate your desire to understand "my" position. Although of course it isn’t mine at all. And even Rene Gerard, who has developed the "story" (mimetic desire and it’s theological significance leading to scapegoating-sacrificing) refrains from claiming it as his. As an anthropologist/theologian it is something he himself happened upon in his reading of all the (great) texts. And if there is anything Girard does, it is read texts. Check out this interview with Girard, as a very brief introduction to him and his thought.

Far from ignoring huge sections of scripture, the non-sacrificial reading incorporates all of scripture, bringing back into play all the great doctrines of the faith…from creation, to original sin, to atonement. And it does so not in any mere cerebral way, but in a heart-breaking self-revealing way.

This story, (which is simply the gospel) because it is alive and dynamic, will need many future posts. And in all this, as we tell our stories, there need be no fear or wrath, only love. I thank you for inspiration.

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