Richard Rohr – The Bible as ‘Text in Travail’


I like to think of the Bible as what historian, social scientist, and literary critic Rene Girard rightly calls “a text in travail.” The text itself edges forward and then pulls its punch backward out of fear or small heartedness, just as humans do. In other words, the Bible doesn’t just give you the conclusions (which is what we want), but it does reveal some basic patterns of Divine Intrusion in to the world and thus creates a tangent for history. Our job is to connect the dots as they move history forward, and only then can we recognize when we are retreating from that trajectory. Such wisdom is surely a gift of the Spirit, and explains why the Bible has done so much harm in history when it was put in the hands of immature people, angry people, power-hungry people, fearful people, and people grasping for identity and superiority (which is all of us before conversion!). Continue reading “Richard Rohr – The Bible as ‘Text in Travail’”

Intellectuals as Castrators of Meaning: An Interview with Réne Girard

Rene Girard

Rene Girard

The following interview, by Giulio Meotti, was translated by Paul N. Faraone and Christopher S. Morrissey from an interview by Giulio Meotti in Il Foglio (March 20, 2007). Reprinted with permission. It is featured in the current edition of Modern Age (50, no. 2; Spring 2008).

“After language, man is becoming deconstructed” : Eugenics is a form of human sacrifice : “Sexuality is the problem, not the solution” : The ruthless ideas of a great thinker

Despite being 84 years of age, René Girard has lost none of his nerve as a definitively radical thinker. He is working on a new essay about Karl von Clausewitz. The author of great contemporary works such as Violence and the Sacred and The Scapegoat, recently elected among the forty “immortals” of the Académie française, René Girard is, along with Claude Levi-Strauss, our greatest living anthropologist. In this interview with Il Foglio, Girard returns to that which defines “the great anthropological question of our time.”

He himself opens with a question:

“Can there be a realistic anthropology that precedes deconstruction? In other words, is it licit and still possible to affirm a universal truth about humankind? Structuralist and postmodern contemporary anthropology denies this access to the truth. The present school of thought is ‘the castration of meaning.’ But such ways of discussing mankind are dangerous.” Continue reading “Intellectuals as Castrators of Meaning: An Interview with Réne Girard”

Martin Marty – Jerusalem, Jerusalem

Madaba Jerusalem Mosaic

Jerusalem, Jerusalem is not about Jerusalem the city. Guidebooks abound and histories are plentiful. What author James Carroll was moved to write is a reflection that deals with Jerusalem both as real and as metaphor. He does not exactly do justice to or make much of his subtitle: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World, but his reflections will ignite at least sparks in the minds of readers who want to ponder with him the question: what is it about religion, with all the solace-bringing good its various forms can bring, that also prompts and promotes violence of most barbaric sorts? Continue reading “Martin Marty – Jerusalem, Jerusalem”

Vilayanur Ramachandran on the neurons that shaped civilization

If you enjoyed Rifkin’s presentation, here is another longer presentation, this time from a neuro-scientist, talking about mirror neurons. I thank Philip Hunt for this link. It was great watching this last Saturday in his home in Australia. Think about the implications of this discovery for what Rene Girard calls ‘mimetic desires’, and for religious beliefs in general.

Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran outlines the fascinating functions of mirror neurons. Only recently discovered, these neurons allow us to learn complex social behaviors, some of which formed the foundations of human civilization as we know it.