Monday, June 10, 2013

A Girardian Analysis of the Women Bishops Debate in the C of E

I am completely new to Rene Girard’s writings and find myself  fascinated, infatuated, and theologically worried all at once. I have absolutely no qualifications but I have wondered what a Girardian analysis of the women bishops debate in the Church of England might look like. What follows might be profoundly mistaken or it might be an unintentional parody of Girard’s theory.  But as I read I Saw Satan Fall Like Lightening I could not help but think of the situation in the English Church (and in American Anglicanism as well).

The Contagion of Mimetic Desire and Rivalry: the Church desires power, because it imitates those forces which desire and have power, the State, the Media, Intellectual Elites. The Church craves respectability as defined not by Christian Tradition but by these forces. All opposition to this desire must be eliminated because respectability depends on absolute unanimity. Anglican Catholics (the Scapegoat) are a scandal to a Church which desires perfect and absolute conformity to the sources of power.

Crisis: the Church’s loss of power, prestige and acceptability is caused by those who resist change. It is their fault. The C of E is a laughing stock and someone must take responsibility for that. Everyone else in the Church is innocent. But the naysayers, the resisters are guilty. The guilty must be destroyed for the good of the innocent crowd. Hence violent measures are the only ones which are on the table.

Scapegoat: The Church employs the methods of pagan religion, which maintains that the majority is always innocent and the minority always guilty in contrast to the Bible which insists that the minority is innocent and that God identifies Himself with the vanquished, the murdered minority. It should be noted that the Catholic minority has no interest in destroying the majority. But not only is it permissible to lie about the Scapegoat, it is  necessary: "they hate women." (Girard calls this 'satanic' - the father of lies.)

As is always the case the crowd will not listen to the minority, however reasonable the minority may be. That is because the thinking of the crowd is mythological, justified by the overriding principle of the survival and peace of the community.

Pessimistic? Rene Girard often is. But it might explain why an institution which is forever patting itself on the back for its breadth and tolerance is now plotting ritual murder of some of its members.

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