Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Girard argues that Jesus has exposed sacred violence permanently and, in doing so, has moved us into a precarious time in which we splinter society because we continue to rely on the structure of the sacrificial tradition. Groups are organized around a victim or group of victims, decentralizing society by not having a single central victim. Furthermore, because humans have a tendency to avenge victims in a way that creates more victims, violence escalates and social chaos ensues.

At the same time, we are drawn to the Kingdom of God by witnessing Jesus’ statement regarding the sacrifice and its true meaning: that the sacrifice is no longer necessary. In doing so, we renounce rivalry, realizing that the Kingdom of Heaven is open to everyone and that to follow Jesus is to become an advocate for all of humanity. This brings us again to the concept of mimetic desire. Girard says that the more our human desires are patterned after the desires of Christ, the more we desire the life offered us by God be offered to others in turn.

By offering forgiveness and strength to resist violence, Girard argues, Jesus counters the worldly impulse to resolve conflicts through the competitive use of power. Jesus’ refusal to enact violence on those who had acted against him short-circuits the cycle of violence and removes the need for the mechanism of the sacrificial victim. Jesus has modeled the right way to act on the human impulse toward mimesis, a way urged on us by God.

In the same way, it is important for us to model Christ for others, serving as an example, Girard notes. The members of the Holy Trinity imitate each other with love, with no rivalry, in the same way that Jesus urges us to love.