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The Politics of Palm Sunday

Make no mistake: the Gospel is political. Politics refers to “the affairs of the city” and “influencing other people on a civic or individual level.” Throughout his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus is political. He influences people to live into the Kingdom of Heaven. For Jesus, Heaven is not essentially some place off in the distance where you go after you die. No, Heaven is a way of life to be lived r ...

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The First Lie: Language’s Big Bang

Once a person begins to desire what the model desires, he learns very quickly that disclosing the desire – naming it, speaking it – is the shortest route to making certain that he will never obtain the object. In this situation only dissimulation will succeed, and the best way to dissimulate is to say the opposite of what one means. Jeremiah Alberg, Beneath the Veil of the Strange Verses: Reading Scandalous ...

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Surprising Insights on Ukraine in the New York Times

The news coverage of international conflicts can be very disappointing from a mimetic perspective. When conflicts escalate into violence as in Syria or the Ukraine, news outlets rush to cover the hostilities. They give us the facts on the ground, or rumors thereof, accompanied by an almost mindless report of what each side is saying by way of self-justification. However, if you listen to their rhetoric with ...

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Attn SBNR: Biblical Violence Matters to Peace

It baffles me when people who are deeply concerned about peace and peacemaking define themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” In pursuit of personal and/ or global peace, they shun organized religion in favor of indigenous spirituality. Celtic music, eastern spiritual disciplines like yoga and meditation, and the Native American relationship with nature all seem so attractive and obviously non-violent. ...

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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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New York Times Video and Mimetic Theory Part 1: The Contagion of Yawning and the Social Glue

It just so happens that middle schoolers and the New York Times are asking the same question: “Why is yawning contagious?” Unfortunately, the New York Times doesn’t answer the question in their video. The closest it gets to an answer is to say, “Scientists see this yawning as part of the social glue that holds us together, so it’s not surprising that it occurs in other social species, too.” That’s hardly an ...

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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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Rob Bell, Oprah Winfrey, and Christianity’s Identity Crisis

Christianity is facing an identity crisis that boils down to one question: Who is God? It’s the question that Rob Bell tackled in his latest book What We Talk about When We Talk about God and it’s the question Rob and Oprah Winfrey discussed yesterday on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. (You can watch the full episode here.) Rob and Oprah sum up the crisis at the beginning of the interview: Rob: For many people…G ...

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Agamemnon Revisited: Peace and Violence at “The Water’s Edge”

There is an unholy trinity at the center of Theresa Rebeck’s play, The Water’s Edge, making its Chicago premiere with the AstonRep Theatre Company this fall. Helen and her two adult children, Nate (27) and Erica (23), have been living for seventeen years in their house at the edge of the lake in which a third child, Lea, drowned at the age of five. They are bound together by an unholy compact: Helen assigns ...

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Strange Fire: John MacArthur, Mark Driscoll, the Holy Spirit, and the Satan

I first heard about the Strange Fire controversy when my Twitter feed started tweeting up a storm on Monday. The drama centered on a confrontation between two conservative mega church pastors, John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll. Most of my Twitter friends are theological liberals, and we liberals love it when our conservative brethren get in fights. Woo-hoo! A scandal! This scandal, like most scandals, was ov ...

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