I’ve been thinking of Rene Girard as the Trayvon Martin tragedy unspools. What is obvious is how many people on all sides are looking, not for justice or even accurate information, but for a sacrificial victim upon which to heap the sins of the world. Doesn’t really matter if the narrative is Innocent spotless victim vs. Murderer Who Represents All Racial Injustice or Terrifying Specter of Street Thuggery Who Got What was Coming to Him from a Concerned Citizen. What matters is that everybody is totally uninterested in the actual human beings involved and is instead seeking a scapegoat upon which to pile the sins of the world.
Fr. Barron is right. What is striking about Jesus is that in him, God takes the place of the victim and says, “I will take the blame. I will bear the curse.” And, in him, we discover that both the killer, his victim, and every single one of us are complicit in the murder of the Son of God.
I think he’s right also, that as our culture de-Christianizes (and that process includes many of us Christians who don’t really trust God) it will return to human sacrifice. No small part of the abortion movement is precisely a heaping of the sins of the world on innocent victims. And so, frankly, is the shameful “conservative” Christian enthusiasm for torture, which overlooks the question of the guilt of its victims with the assumption that, if we are torturing them, they must be terrorists and therefore are “getting what they deserve” even when they are, in fact, totally innocent. My prayer is that, if our culture chooses to go this way, God will, in his mercy, weaken it so much that it cannot survive in the face of some other nascent Christian culture arising elsewhere in the world. He saved the tyranny of Rome by letting it fall to Christ. Perhaps he will do the same with us.
If you want to read up on Girard’s brilliant insights, go here.
Okay. Gotta run!