Been reading more of Girard the past year. He’s a “Christian” but not a literalist, but a figurativist. If that’s a word.
His take on the socio-psychological role of Christianity’s symbolic process of expunging “sin” through a perfect sacrifice is fascinating.
In this case, sin is a parasitic byproduct of humanity’s natural desire to compete through mimicry. There is a point where the competitive tension of mimesis (copying others) becomes so strong, that the desire to mimic morphs into the desire to “be” the idealized other, that violence ensues.
In order to alleviate the tension and create peace, a scapegoat is chosen, in which all the tension is symbolically transferred to a victim and sacrificed, thus ending the mimetic cycle and violence.
Sacrifice is a prototypical behavior cross culturally throughout history. Cain and Able were sacrificing (hell, when Cain was unable to provide an appropriate sacrifice he killed his brother, whom god favored, thus setting the stage for the sacrificial theme). Jacob and his son. Oedepus. Mayans. Etc. etc.
According to Girard, mimesis, violence, scapegoating, peace, deification— is a natural anthropological procession, an inescapable reality of the human condition.
What reinforces this sacrificial ritual is the double transference that occurs when a scapegoat is killed. 1. Peace is achieved. 2. People attribute the peace to the scapegoat, thus deifying it.
The post sacrificial deification results in a rebirth, or reincarnation of the scapegoat.
What separates Christianity from all other myths and sacrificial rituals is that the scapegoat ends up being wrongly sacrificed. The scapegoat, the lamb of god, is vindicated right before his death by the crowd and his followers, resulting in a blameless sacrifice.
The result is the entire sacrificial procession is demystified, and breaks the spell.
Sacrificial scapegoats are unnecessary.
The Christian narrative is told from the perspective of the victim, rather than the community benefiting from the sacrifice. This is the first instance of a myth told in this way. It allows the readers to see things from the victims eyes for the first time.
This is the crux of Christianity: blessed are the meek, the powerless, the poor, for they shall inherent the kingdom of heaven.
While this message in essence runs in direct contrast to mimetic desire, and more precisely the ego which manifests mimetic desire and perpetuates violence, it opens the door to the sin, by leveraging the victim in order to perpetuate mimetic desire all over again.
This victimization is precisely what Nietzsche shunned, and he referred to as the slave morality.
The slave morality plays the victim card as an insidious and subversive way to reclaim power, under the guise of self-righteousness. It uses pity and condemnation to subvert power structures through guilt and wielding the moral gavel. But this is simply another guise for the parasitic sin of Satan, which is synonymous with mimetic desire.
Parasitic in the sense that Satan has no being, no form, but attaches himself to others to grow in power and perpetuate violence and disorder. From the very beginning, Satan was the angel who wanted to be god: mimetic desire is the source of evil and violence.
Thou shall not covet: the most fundamental of commandments. The origin for the word covet is the Latin word “cupiditas” meaning “to desire or wish for inordinately or without regard for the rights of others”.