Did Jesus come to help humanity break free from the cycle of mimetic desire that is marked by violence?

James 4 talks about how “we desire what others have”.

What is the source of conflict among you? What is the source of your disputes? Don’t they come from your cravings that are at war in your own lives?

You long for something you don’t have, so you commit murder. You are jealous for something you can’t get, so you struggle and fight.

(James 4:1-2)

Here is Rene Girad’s Mimetic theory in a nutshell for you.
1. We all learn by imitation
2. We imitate not only what we see others do but also their very desires
3. Ultimately, this leads us to conflict because there is usually a limited supply of what we desire (food, opposite sex, etc.)
4. This conflict escalates and threatens to destroy the community/friendship
5. We subconsciously transfer our hostility on to a scapegoat who is usually someone/group different than us or vulnerable
6. Our union around blaming the scapegoat and shunning them, killing them, or bad-mouthing them, etc. creates a bond of union between us that replaces/heals the conflict.
7. We are now friends/community once again because our hostility toward each other has been transferred to the scapegoat.

It is said that the Gospel breaks us out of this cycle by showing us that the victim is actually innocent. It gives us a new way of reconciling our conflicts; that is forgiveness! By God in Jesus suffering unjustly at our hands, taking the place of the scapegoat, and then responding with forgiveness instead of retribution, we both learn how and are empowered to offer forgiveness to others.

James 1:14-15

New International Version (NIV)

14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.

15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Even though the word “mimetic” is not in the bible, it is a valid way of interpreting the mystery of the cross, just as the word “trinity” is not in the bible but can be used to explain the mystery of the father, son and Holy Spirit. I think the mimetic theory explains clearly why the Jews and Romans ended up treating Jesus as a scapegoat because both factions were already at odds with one another, jostling for power and influence while Jesus stood out prominently from them since he preached love and healing which is very different from their selfish desires. So they decided to get rid of Jesus out of jealousy by bad mouthing him and crucifying him. It is interesting to note that the bible recorded that even Pilate and king Herod were temporarily friends on the day of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion when previously the Roman governor and the Jewish king were rivals who disliked each other. (Luke 23:12)

And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.

(Luke 23:12)

The gospel shows that Jesus is innocent of their accusations, and instead of retribution he forgave them of their trespasses. It empowered them to forgive themselves and one another too, having experienced his forgiveness. This helped me to interpret Acts 2 in a new light in that Peter preached forgiveness of their sins through Jesus Christ. It is not about being saved from God’s wrath in that context (unlike what evangelical Christianity says) but being saved from their sin consciousness and guilt and shame. Jesus’ forgiveness empowered them to love and reconcile themselves to their fellow human beings.

The word “sacrifice” needs to be redeemed, as it had been mistakenly attributed as a sacrifice for God, when it actually is meant to be the scapegoat to overcome the scapegoat system in that day and age.

In conclusion, maybe Jesus came for this reason to help humanity break free from this cycle of mimetic desire that is marked by violence. As suggested by Rene Girard’s scapegoat theory, perhaps Jesus’ sacrifice is meant to be the final scapegoat to end all future sacrifices so that the human experience will be in the post-mimetic stage where the kingdom of God rules in each person with hope and peace. The apocalypse is actually the revelation in the person’s heart and mind that the kingdom of God is within us and we are all one with our divine self and with one another, esoterically speaking.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. katy836 says:

    Thank you. Mimetic desire well explained and beautifully intertwined with how we might understand the cross better.

    1. jimmytst says:

      Thank you for your encouraging comment too.

  2. marcusiologist says:

    I love your synopsis. Having just finished listening to a documentary series almost four hours long (CBC Radio http://bit.ly/1MmtGxn ) about Girard’s postulate, it’s refreshing to read a short essay that largely corroborates my interpretation of the text.
    As a Christian who eschews proselytizing, Girard’s thinking reinforces my suspicion of Paul’s motives and message… But in thinking that am I myself falling into a cycle of destructive competition?
    What becomes clear for me is that Girard’s ‘non-sacrificial’ reading of the gospels is a long rabbit hole to fall down, but one that I think must be traveled.

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