An Appreciative Commentary on James Alison’s “Jesus the Forgiving Victim: Listening for the Unheard Voice, Book 1”

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by guest author Dr. Chezeray M. Moore.

My Born Again Experience, Part 1

I am a new student of Girardian philosophy, also known as Mimetic Theory. With all things that are new to one’s awareness, if they resonate as true, there’s an element of novelty involved, as well as a tendency to miss certain subtle nuances which are firmly grasped by those with more experience. It is with that in mind that I share my thoughts on this great work by James Alison in the most plain spoken-manner I can, and I focus on the manner in which my thinking has been transformed by this series of essays.

Essay #1 is a challenge to up one’s intellectual ante and closely examine what goes into the process of how we learn, how we develop, and how we maintain our sense of identity, while exposing how mimetically hardwired we are in the process.

We are born into a world in which we are taught what to desire by what others find desirable, and taught who to be by who others are. There is a cultural bubble of expectation that expresses itself through us, as us. A dynamic identified as the “Social Other”.

In no comparable area of life has the development of this mimetic self been more prevalent throughout human history than religion. Religious adherents have used the tenets of their faith to draw the line between “us” and “them” since the struggle was personified in the allegory of Cain and Abel, “I” and “Him”. This has been as true for Christianity as it has been for any other institutionalized faith, for who is the Saint without the Sinner?

Yet and still, to say that this dynamic identity development is true of Christianity is not the same as saying this is true of Jesus. For from the mimetic thrust that pushes us to desire what others find desirable, we find ourselves up against the law of economic reality, infinite desire versus limited resources; therefore, we have the birth of mimetic rivalry, which leads to unrest, which leads to the scapegoating of a person or group as the cause of that unrest, which results in the sacrificing of that scapegoat, the killing of a victim, whose death allays the unrest.

It is here, in the recognition of this pattern, in the exposure of this pattern of human behavior, which I had been unaware of in spite of its all pervasiveness, just as surely as the average fish moves about unaware of the water in which it swims. It is here that I found myself most challenged, and it is here that I had my first unfiltered encounter with Jesus. It is here that the scales fell from my eyes, and I asked, “Who are you, Lord?”

The answer to that question had an impact on me, on par with the particular point James Alison made in Section 7, “Revelation and Discovery,” in the middle of the second paragraph on page 40. It reads, “What does it look like that a meteorite has hit the earth? It looks like a concavity. From the concavity you can deduce a good deal about the meteorite which hit. If there were no concavity, you would say that it was not a real meteorite, just a paper one, or a virtual one.”

I have been exposed to a transcendent idea of, “Christ the Conquering King,” a theologically militant Messiah who created the dividing line between the “saved” and the “unsaved;” the “forgiven” and the “damned;” the “heavenly-destined” and the “hell-bound.” And yet, such claims are not exclusive to Christendom, by any stretch of the imagination. What I hadn’t been exposed to was a Jesus who started human, and stayed human. There’s a vast difference between the two perspectives, the transcendent and the human. And while one says, “Son of God,” “Redeemer,” “Lion of the Tribe of Judah,” “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” and “Prince of Peace,” it is in the human perspective, an anthropological perspective, that through a process of discovery it is revealed that Jesus is The Victim.

That was the answer I received. The Lord, in his humanity, is the victim, and I was made to realize that in order for my true freedom to be enjoyed, I had to familiarize myself with this truth.

I’ve never been one who has to be convinced that there are elements of Christian common thought which systematically blind those who adhere to certain belief systems to truths that don’t fit snuggly into those systems. It is on that note that I most deeply appreciate James Alison’s manner of articulating the common thoughts of such belief systems – the strongholds – of the mimetic mind; while juxtaposing the two perspectives of the Lord the Conqueror and the victim; the transcendental and the human. And his incremental revelation of the impact these truths have upon the way we live and relate to one another as human beings.

As I draw this essay to a close, it is my hope that those who read it will find that the revealed truths herein resonate with them. It is my intention, with each installment, to simply articulate how my life has been transformed by becoming familiar with the human historical person named Jesus (or Yeh’shuah if you prefer); and communicate my born again experience. Along the way I hope you find inspiration to share your own. Until next time, and always, be in peace.

 Dr. Chezeray M. Moore discovered mimetic theory through studying James Alison’s “Jesus the Forgiving Victim: Listening for the Unheard Voice.” The truths expounded by Girard so profoundly effected Moore’s life that he declares Girard his guru. While Dr. Moore can only be reached by post, he would greatly welcome your correspondence. His address is Dr. Chezeray M. Moore, #B-54755, P.O. Box 1700, Galesburg, IL 61402.

Jesus the Forgiving Victim: Listening for the Unheard Voice with James Alison is a product of the Raven Foundation with financial support from Imitatio. The essays are published by DOERS Publishing, LLC and are available in print, as e-books, and a video course at most booksellers.

Editor’s Note: Would you like to submit an article for consideration to The Raven Foundation? Find out how in the guidelines of our new section, “Your Voice.” Articles published do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the staff at the Raven Foundation, but are selected primarily because of the way they enhance the conversation around mimetic theory.

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