Scan the globe. Violence rules, its forms are legion. There may yet be hope, but it is only in universal reconciliation, which, if you’re of a realist bent, may mean there is no hope. But if you’re of a more whimsical mind (which I know does not necessarily preclude realists) that is, if you’re of an imaginative and open mind and you think that the elementary equation of two plus two is not necessarily four, then perhaps you too entertain the possibility of the impossible: universal reconciliation, what some might name paradise, utopia, or the Kingdom of God.
For what else is the birth of Christ but the ushering in of the impossible? The possibility of the impossible. Of course to think this, I suppose, the story must be believed in some way, even in a Borgian way, a mythy way.
But while the story has all the elements of a myth—signs in the sky, a lowly birth, the hunt, the escape, the rise to notoriety, the deadly envy of the establishment, the lynching and some kind of a return—it is unique in that it is told from the viewpoint of the victim. And so it lifts the dress of myth, for myth always conceals as much as it reveals because it’s told from the viewpoint of the victimizers.
But what we have here is the undoing of myth, that is, a story told from the side of an innocent victim. And the resurrection, the return of the victim, however you view that, is the opposite of every action movie you’ve ever seen. It is not pay-back but the ultimate sign of forgiveness.
That we Christians have recoiled from the staggering part of the story, half believing, half scandalized, and so retrenched to an archaic sacrificial form of religion and redemptive violence is both an indication of our weak hearts and the power of violence, envy, resentment. That we still scapegoat humanism, atheism, liberalism, Islamism etc. is a sign of our failure. That our scapegoating remains hidden from us tells us we have yet to adopt the story. And it will stay hidden until we relinquish (repent) our belief that others are corrupt in some notable way that we aren’t.
Scapegoating does not make for peace. The way we behave with each other is the way our countries behave and we are far too generous in describing our behaviour. We’ve just gone through a monumental tragedy, the stars have come out to tell us not to blame Hollywood, the media, the manufacturers of recreational violence. They are right. And they are wrong. They are a mirror. And they perpetuate and instigate. For we are mimetic creatures. And yet we love to swallow the lie of originality and individual desire while hanging on to the image of community as organism.
That we sign on to Western oppression and the militarization of our country, never understanding that the manufacture of weapons from assault rifles to drones, whether or not they are ever used, is an assault on peace.
We have failed to see our own deadly envy, our violence, our rage for security over trust, and we’ve simply reconstructed another model of a victorious apocalyptic God, a wrathful God who comes back to deal with all those who didn’t believe him the first time. And so with our loving-but-necessarily-wrathful god we go on justifying a defensive posture that has the potential to destroy our world many times over.
And so for Christianity to succeed, it must predict and consummate it’s own defeat.
We say we long for the Kingdom of God. But the the Kingdom of God, by definition, is nonviolent. Why would we long for that while we go on depending on the kingdom of violence?