Violence Nevermore!

Happy Halloween, Dear Friends! Tonight, for a spooky edition of Book Feature Friday, I decided to do things a little differently. As it is Halloween, my article tonight is going out in costume — disguised as a parody of the original Raven by model-obstacle  famous master of poetic horror, Edgar Allen Poe. Just have fun with it friends; it’s my “treat” for you this Halloween!

Once upon a midnight dreary
I woke pondr’ing mimetic theory –
How we imitate each other and role models gone before –
Patterns of human behavior,
And our deep need for a savior
From the violence we savor
That consumes us all the more.
As we compete for our desires with each other more and more
Are we doomed forevermore?

From infancy we form obsessions
With our parents’ prized possessions,
Such that it’s my phone and kindle, more than toys, my girls adore.
My actions for them will inspire
Their own acts, so I aspire
To make sure that I desire
Things and goals worth striving for
My kids are watching all the while, of this one thing I am sure:
I’m their model evermore.

And this human form of learning
From each other has us yearning,
Coveting the things of others, on TV or in the store
More than just for things, we’re aching
For identity, mistaking
Goods and wealth for self, forsaking
What we should be living for:
To love and serve each other should be all that we are living for,
Be our mission evermore.

Yet we find ourselves competing
On and on without retreating
‘Til in anger self-defeating, we find ourselves in all-out war.
Coveting in our hearts creates
Violence that escalates
In cycles that perpetuate
Evermore and evermore
Violence keeps coming back round through that e’re revolving door
Evermore and evermore.

From Cain and Abel, rival brothers,
The virus quickly spreads to others
Jealousy turns lethal, righteous anger ends in gore.
Violent acts keep on compounding
Til the whole wide world is drowning,
Can mercy, too, be so abounding?
Can we hope to find a cure?
From our brutal, warring madness, surely we must find a cure
Or keep searching evermore.

Yet our violence seems abated
When we unify our hatred
Against a single victim we find easy to abhor.
We’re not at each others’ throats
As long as we have our scapegoats
But this short-lived antidote
Just hides our sickness all the more
When we think that we are righteous, we’re deluded all the more
And no better than before.

Whole societies and cultures
Feed off sacrifice like vultures
Never seeing human beings in the ones whom we deplore.
Mob-like, gathering in alliance
To pour out our wrath and violence
On some victim whom we silence,
To be heard from nevermore
Victim purged, we find catharsis; fragile peace has been restored,
Truth is sacrificed once more.

Scripture tells the bloody story,
How we think we see God’s glory
In the sacrifice of others and the victories of war.
Though we’re caught up in believing
In our violence so deceiving,
Looking down, Our Father’s grieving,
Pitying us all the more.
When time was ripe He came among us, His good image to restore,
Reconcile us evermore.

Seeing violence in God’s name and
Grieving for us, Jesus came and
In the form of humble servant, took his place among the poor.
Joining prostitutes for dinner,
Healing lepers, calling sinners,
He stood not among the winners,
But our outcasts he restored.
‘Til authorities and powers couldn’t take him any more.
Vowing vengeance swift and sure.

Against him former foes united
Herod the King and Pontius Pilate
Whipped and stripped and body broken, thorns upon his head so sore
Mob and leaders vilified him,
Followers betrayed, denied him
Human malice crucified him,
But God raised him up once more!
In the Vindicated Victim, we see God as ne’er before
Off’ring mercy evermore!

When the words of peace were spoken,
Then the curse of hate was broken
Sins are healed by forgiveness, not by sacrifice and gore
What a friend we have in Jesus
Seeing others as he sees us
From our violence he frees us
From our senseless rush to war
Only love can break the cycle that leads us on and on to war
On and on forevermore.

In Jesus Christ we fin’ly see that
God could never ever be that
Genocidal tyrant once more dreaded than adored.
By death and hate no longer blind,
We put on Jesus’ heart and mind
And guided by his grace we find
New life, new love, new hope restored.
Freed from jealousy and greed, at last to God we are restored.
Ever and forevermore.

This mimetic theory tells us:
When fickle desire compels us
To fight each other for the things our culture tells us to fight for,
If we live instead for others
Give to sisters and to brothers
And be not fighters, no, but lovers
The world can be whole once more
With Jesus as our human model, our world can be whole once more.
Of this truth we can be sure.

Who coined this theory? Why Girard did
And that’s why he is regarded
As one who makes us see our world, our faith, ourselves, as never before
The insights we gain from his reading
Of the scriptures has us pleading,
“Stop the sacrificial bleeding
For we can afford no more!”
No more sacrifice and violence, there cannot be any more!
This we must work to ensure.

This nonviolent hermeneutic
That we find so therapeutic
Applies not only to our scripture, but to our lives all the more.
From politics to parenting
We keep on finding the same thing:
The insight from Girard can bring
Us closer, closer to the cure
From our bitter warring madness, God’s love is our only cure
Girard just helps us see it more.

Here at the Raven Foundation
We work on proliferation
Of mimetic insights, to spread peace from shore to shore
Exposing violent tendencies,
Reducing our dependencies
On scapegoats and enemies;
Won’t you join us, we implore?
Take Christ as your mimetic model, we emphatically implore
To make violence nevermore!

Image: Raven Croak” by Franko Atirador. Available via Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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11 replies
  1. Mavis Nevill
    Mavis Nevill says:

    Hi Lindsey. The climax of your poem contain very powerful words proclaiming peace through God’s love, not through Christ as sacrifice. Blessings to you. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Lindsey Paris-Lopez
      Lindsey Paris-Lopez says:

      Thank you so much, Mavis! Twice in the Gospels, Jesus says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” He tells the Pharisees to go and learn what that means… I think we still need to learn what it means (“we” including myself, because we fall back into patterns of blame and scapegoating so easily). I believe that the cross is salvific, but not because God ever demanded such a horrible death for his son or any of us. It’s because in drinking the cup of human wrath, Jesus exposes the violence we call righteous for the barbaric murder that it is, thus vindicating every victim who has ever been sacrificed in the name of what we call a greater cause, from human sacrifices to casualties of war. And then Jesus pronounces forgiveness upon us, giving us a model of forgiveness even when we are wronged so grievously. Jesus shows us our need for forgiveness and how to forgive others at the same time. That’s the power of God’s love, and it’s the only thing that can change and save a dying world. And we’re all called to magnify it. Thank you so much again, Mavis, and blessings to you too!

      Reply
  2. Marie De carlo
    Marie De carlo says:

    Quote the raven never more . I love that poem! Lindsey , how long did it take to compete so beautifully with Edgar Allan Poe ? You did a great job!!

    Reply
    • Lindsey Paris-Lopez
      Lindsey Paris-Lopez says:

      Thanks, Marie! From Suzanne’s “Wicked Truth,” I know you’re her mom, so thanks also for raising an awesome daughter who is the reason for this poem!

      How long did it take to compete with Poe? Great question! I’ve actually had the rhythm of “The Raven” in my head more or less for the past 16 years! I had to write a parody of one of Poe’s works in my American lit class in 11th grade, and I chose “The Raven”! So, because I had done it before, I knew I could do it again! But it’s not easy finding a zillion rhymes for “more.” I worked on this poem for a couple of weeks, and by Friday I had about half of it finished, and the pressure of my self-imposed deadline (cause I really, really wanted to get this out on Halloween) made me come up with about 8 stanzas on the last day. Some days I sat staring at the screen for hours trying to think of the right rhyme to fit the rhythm. Other days I had bursts of inspiration. All in all it was a lot of fun to write!

      Poe is a great mimetic model! I just hope my work can be a bit more cheerful!

      Reply
  3. Sheima Salam Sumer
    Sheima Salam Sumer says:

    Lindsey, what an amazing poem! I am in awe of how you were able to fit such a clear description of mimetic theory and the Raven Foundation’s mission into the form of The Raven poem. This is pure genius and it was so fun to read!

    Reply
    • Lindsey Paris-Lopez
      Lindsey Paris-Lopez says:

      Thank you, Sheima! You’re so sweet. Remember when we had to write parodies of Poe for Mrs. Pollock? I still have the rhythm of The Raven in my head from that, so it wasn’t too hard! I like poetry with form. Some people can write beautiful free verse, but I always feel like I’m rambling. Form poetry allows me to be creative within boundaries, and I like making the style a part of the message.

      Reply

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