Reason, faith and René Girard

Dominique Irigaray, a French lay Dominican, has started a new blog looking at how René Girard’s thought can help to renew the church’s self-understanding, proclamation and practice: Raison girardienne & Foi chrétienne. In his opening post, Dominique describes how he first encountered Girard’s ideas. He first encountered Girard by seeing him expound his ideas on […]

2018 books round-up

Time to blow the dust off this ol’ blog and post my annual round-up of books I’ve read during the past year. As in previous years (2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017), I’ve categorised them as fiction, non-fiction (excluding theology), theology, and “other” (mostly graphic novels and comic books). Asterisks indicate books I’ve read before, and my two […]

The good Pharisee and the scoundrel tax collector

James Alison’s talk on idolatry (see previous post) ends with a characteristically brilliant Alisonian analysis of a biblical narrative that had been worn smooth by overuse: the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 8:9-14. In this story: we are told of two men praying in the Temple. One, a highly religiously observant […]

Idolatry and indifference

The human heart is an idol factory. Our pastor quoted this line in his sermon yesterday, attributing it to Martin Luther. The internet usually attributes it to John Calvin, but there are some vaguely-sourced suggestions that Calvin got it from Luther. Whoever first said it, there is certainly a lot of truth in it. This morning […]

Pearls about swine

Another highlight from James Alison’s The Forgiving Victim (see previous post) is his discussion of the Gerasene demoniac (from 29’25” to 43’25” on the video here). Fr Alison is always at his best when he looks at a specific incident in the Gospels and illuminates it by showing how it reflects and demonstrates René Girard’s […]

The Forgiving Victim vs the “self-starting ‘I'”

James Alison, one of my favourite theologians, has been working for some time on a introductory course on Christianity called the Forgiving Victim. A sample video is available at that link. Regrettably, some aspects of the video look (not to put too fine a point on it) cringingly awful, particularly the reconstructions of biblical incidents […]

Not peace, but a sword

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) This saying is, notoriously, one of the most difficult of all Jesus’ utterances. What are we to make of it? One answer is provided in Slavoj Žižek in the first of […]

The presidency and sacred kingship

Christianity Today recently ran an item giving three views on whether there is anything wrong with voting for a Mormon for president of the United States. The second (and, to my mind, the most insightful) of these was from Lutheran journalist and blogger Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, who pointed out that the problem isn’t having a […]

Mimetic spirituality in practice

A couple of quick thoughts following up on that last post. First, René Girard goes on to make the point that mimetic desire is not inherently wrong, even if in practice it leads to rivalry and violence between human beings. The question is how to prevent mimetic desire from leading to such violent rivalry. One […]