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My Interview about Sacrificial Systems on Peace Paradigm Radio

I had the great pleasure of discussing the sacrificial system, mimetic desire, scapegoating and peacemaking with my wonderful friends at the Metta Center for Nonviolence, Stephanie Van Hook and Michael Nagler. The interview was broadcast on Peace Paradigm Radio on December 27 and I hope you enjoy our discussion of how René Girard’s insights enable us to take responsibility for our own complicity in the perp ...

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Finding God in the Mess

Despite years – and I mean YEARS – of therapy, I still run like a madwomen from my own feelings of sadness, especially during the holidays. Denial has always been my favorite coping mechanism. So this weekend, when my holiday spirits started to dip, instead of looking inside for the cause I made a mess of things by finding fault with everyone around me. My husband said the stupidest things; my kids seemed u ...

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Mandy Patinkin and the Princess Bride: Justice, Revenge, and Jewish Spirituality

If you were on Facebook or Twitter last week, you probably saw the CBS interview with Mandy Patinkin. He’s probably best known for this line from the classic movie The Princess Bride: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. The Princess Bride was released when I was 16. My friends and I would throw that line back and forth whenever we competed against one another. Monopoly. Ba ...

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[VIDEO] Sermon: On Saying Yes: An Israelite Girl, Malala Yousafzai, and Jesus

The great Jewish theologian and philosopher Martin Buber said that there are two basic positions to life.[1] A position that says “Yes” to life. And a position that says “No” to life. For Buber, saying “Yes” is a bit of a paradox, because saying “Yes” to life doesn’t primarily depend upon us seeking, or striving, or grasping for some abstract meaning to life. Once we start seeking, striving, and grasping we ...

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Revisiting the Buddha: Checking in with Indira Johnson

A year after we awarded the 2012 Raven Award for Excellence in Arts and Entertainment to Chicago artist Indira Johnson, we thought we’d bring you an update on her work. We honored Indira for her use of public art to address issues of urban violence. The project began about 5 years ago, when she became preoccupied by a radical thought.  “How would it change an urban space,” she wondered, “if a Buddha head wa ...

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Mimetic Reflections on Syria

This article appeared as part of the Mimetic Monday series on the Patheos.com Faith Forward blog. As the world wrestles with how to respond to the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria, we thought we’d offer you some mimetic reflections on the use of violence. Mimetic theory is an anthropological theory of human violence that has theological implications. The reflections in this article are fro ...

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Advice on Syria from Gregory the Great

As I began my morning devotions on Tuesday this week, Syria was on my mind. No surprise, right? The debate about whether to respond militarily to the use of chemical weapons is all over the news right now. Mostly folks are arguing about what actually happened and the larger geo-political questions that a military strike involves, which are important and necessary issues. But here’s the question that was rat ...

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Dreams of Justice: Syria, Barack Obama, and Martin Luther King Jr.

What’s happening in Syria is awful. You see the pictures and your heart breaks. It’s horrific. Lakhdar Brahimi, UN special envoy to Syria, said today that, “With what has happened on the 21st of August last week, it does seem that some kind of substance was used that killed a lot of people: hundreds, definitely more than a hundred, some people say 300, some people say 600, maybe 1,000, maybe more than 1,000 ...

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July 4th and the Table of Demons

On July 4th I will be attending the annual party at my son and daughter-in-law’s home. They will be serving up smoked chicken and spare ribs while fireworks from neighboring towns inscribe a nearly 360° circle around their backyard. While we are waving our flags with differing degrees of enthusiasm, one member of my family will not be with us: my sister the Jehovah’s Witness. As much as we’ve tried to persu ...

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Star Trek: Into Darkness and Changing Course

Star Trek: Into Darkness is a fascinating and complicated story that is well worth watching. Instead of providing a summary, I want to explore three related aspects of the movie that have to do with mimetic theory: sacrifice, blood, and hope for a more peaceful future. Live Long and Prosper – The Sacrificial Formula In a reference to my favorite Star Trek movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the current ...

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