Mark Vernon: Scruton on Girard


Mark Vernon has this to say about a bit of writing that makes use of Girard’s theory of mimetic violence as a proof to secular writers that religion has something to say to them:

“Scruton explores Girard’s theory of religion as breaking the cycle of otherwise inevitable human violence by the sacred memory of a supreme scapegoat/sacrifice. The image of Christ on the cross is the quintessential example.

Scruton was discussing Girard as a rebuke to the atheists who would simplify religion and not only miss the point but erase a powerful force for good, for all the ills of course. Whether or not the image of Christ can today perform the function Girard would have it do is another question entirely. I suspect not, at least not in the West. And not only because most people are Christian in only a nominal sense. The real trouble is the way the church itself is going. With its feel-good services and focus on having a ‘personal relationship with Jesus’ it sidelines and erases the sacredness and otherness that is at the core of good religion. There’s more sense of awe in the Apple store on Regent Street than there is in many so-called sacred spaces.”

I’m quite taken by the last bit about the need to recapture the sense of awe in worship that we seem to have lost with our stadium seating, jumbo-tron viewing, personal pronoun focused music filled services.

Good worship reminds people that there’s a deeper reality and truth that surrounds them.

What examples have you seen of that in parish churches recently?

Read the rest here: Scruton on Girard – philosophy and life blog – thought as therapy

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...