Re-thinking Sacramentality After René Girard: Desire, Sign and the Intelligibility of Crisis

Presentation given at the 2022 meeting of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion, held in the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana from 29 June to 2 July 2022.

As is well known, René Girard did not write about either the sacraments or ecclesiology. He was much more interested in tracing the ways in which Jewish and Christian texts had produced a change in ancient patterns of desire, thus leading to the modern world. Furthermore, he studied the ways in which, once human patterns of desire are set free from sacrificial resolution, we become increasingly dangerous to each other. The question of how to live now without becoming caught up in a maelstrom of unresolved mimetic rivalry leading to self-destruction was the one which weighed on him in his last years. As Benoît Chantre has shown, Holderlin rather than either Clausewitz or Hegel was the model he sought to put before us.

Having said this, nothing in René’s thought prevents us from asking the question of what a fundamental ecclesiology flowing from the Girardian insight might look like. And a good deal in that thought recommends us taking a sacramental approach to ecclesiology. In fact, René himself showed very little interest in ecclesiastical politics, and was inclined to think that the Christian Church had failed; certainly that Christendom had. Yet he was a regular participant in the sacraments, having been for some time a eucharistic minister for the Catholic Chaplaincy at Stanford. Thereafter he was a loyal attender at a Gregorian Mass, organised by a professor of Music from among his Stanford colleagues. This Mass, with the Latin prayers of the Paul VI Missal, but with the readings and homily in English, was his weekly discipline at a chapel near his home in the last years of his life.

Without direct instruction, therefore, from René’s direct writings in the field, but spurred on by how seriously he took the matter, I’m going to propose going back to first principles in looking at what sort of sacramentality, and therefore eventually (though not in this presentation), what sort of ecclesiology, might emerge from Girard’s insight. If you are surprised by my linking “ecclesiology” and “sacramentality” together, then it is worth remembering two things. The first is that what we now call “ecclesiology” – the treatise “de ecclesia” – became common in the post-reformation period, largely thanks to Bellarmine and other Jesuits, as they responded to the Reformation’s attack on the Catholic Church’s institutional structure. Before that period, even though there was much discussion, for instance during the Conciliarist period, of different elements of Church governance, the basic understanding of what the Church is was discussed in the treatise “De sacramentis”. That is to say, it was understood that the life of the Church was a life “in the signs”.

A second reason why it is difficult for us to imagine the link between ecclesiology and sacramentality is that we have so often bought into the Islamic identification of Christianity as “a religion of the book” alongside Judaism. However in fact Catholic Christianity has always considered itself a religion of Spirit and Sign, which is why we handle Bible texts in a significantly different way than our Reformed siblings. So when Vatican II refers to the Church as the Universal Sacrament of Salvation, rather than saying something entirely new, it was deploying an ancient way of understanding what being Church is really all about. It is, or should be, the living sign amongst us of a reality, the kingdom of heaven, which is slowly unfurling itself in our midst through signs which transform us too into signs, which is to say into living, acting, witnesses.

At the root, therefore of any understanding of the Church as sign, and the signs which make up the Church, is the question of what a human sign is, and how it might come to be other than merely a self-created human sign. And this is an area where René has a lot to offer us. For those of you who want a more professional and philosophical look at questions of sign, I cannot recommend highly enough Anthony Bartlett’s recent book Theology after Metaphysics where he explores the semiotic potential for Girard’s thought with help from Charles Pierce. 

My aim however is to look at some specifically theological outcomes of this way of thinking. Let us start by taking a look at part of René’s discussion of the sign in Section D of Chapter 3 of book 1 of Things Hidden from the Foundation of the World where he takes up the issue of the “transcendental signifier”:

We need to show that it is not possible to resolve the problem of violence via the surrogate victim without at the same time elaborating a theory of sign and signification. I think that even the most elementary form of the victimage mechanism, prior to the emergence of the sign, should be seen as an exceptionally powerful means of creating a new degree of attention, the first non-instinctual attention. Once it has reached a certain degree of frenzy, the mimetic polarization becomes fixed on a single victim, the violence necessarily abates and silence follows the mayhem. This maximal contrast between the release of violence and its cessation, between agitation and tranquillity, creates the most favourable conditions possible for the emergence of this new attention. Since the victim is a common victim it will be at that instant the focal point for all members of the community. Consequently, beyond the purely instinctual object, the alimentary or sexual object or the dominant individual, there is the cadaver of the collective victim and this cadaver constitutes the first object for this new type of attention.

To the extent that the new type of attention is awakened, the victim will be imbued with the emotions provoked by the crisis and its resolution. The powerful experience crystallizes around the victim. As weak as it might be, the “consciousness” the participants have of the victim is linked structurally to the prodigious effects produced by its passage from life to death, by the spectacular and liberating reversal that has occurred at that instant. The double transference will determine the only possible meaning to take shape under the circumstances, and this will constitute the sacred and confer total responsibility for the event on to the victim. It is necessary to conceive of stages, however, which were perhaps the longest in all human history, in which the signifying effects have still not truly taken shape. One would have to answer your question by saying that once the victim has appeared, however dimly, the process leading towards the sacred has begun, although concepts and representations are not yet part of it. There is no need to assume that the mechanism of awakening attention works right away; one can imagine that for a considerable period it produced nothing at all, or next to nothing. Nonetheless, even the most rudimentary signifying effects result from the necessity of controlling excessive mimesis; as soon as we grant that these effects can be in the slightest degree cumulative, we will have recognised them as forerunners of forms of human culture.

I am not saying that we have found the true transcendental signifier. So far we have only discovered what functions in that capacity for human beings. The signifier is the victim. The signified constitutes all actual and potential meaning the community confers on to the victim and, through its intermediacy, on to all things. The sign is the reconciliatory victim.

Here, it seems to me, we have already in place the two poles necessary for a discussion of ecclesial sacramentality. First, a generative account of human meaning, something which from very small beginnings is capable of developing all the dimensions of sign and language which first formed us and have continued to form us ever since. Girard will return to this later, in Evolution and Conversion where he discusses the huge crisis provoked by the emergence of the symbolic amongst us, a crisis within which we all still live, and to which I will return later.

The second pole is what he says he is not describing here, the “true transcendental signifier”. He has described what serves for us in that role: the victim, all the meaning which the community gives to the victim (all the while thinking that it is receiving it from the victim), and the sign which is how the victim achieves reconciliation. Girard knows that this is not the real thing. This is a simulacrum of the real thing. The real thing is of course the Logos, which Girard describes as the Logos of John, in order to distinguish it from the Logos of Heraclitus. The Logos which is known in its expulsion[1].

All of which is to say that Girard is always holding two opposite things together at the same time, and the two of them are generators of meaning, which is to say, of signs. On the one hand there is the “scapegoat mechanism”. And on the other, there is the whole movement of the “coming into the world” of the Logos traceable through the events behind, and the words in, the Hebrew Scriptures and culminating in the Passion of the Christ.

For me, and I hope for all of us, this is one of the remarkable things about Girard’s thought: its extreme suppleness. For the two founts of meaning seem identical to each other, and yet the meaning arising from each could not be more different. At every point in the construction of meaning offered by the scapegoat mechanism, the Passion of the Christ undoes that meaning and offers something vastly richer. But this means that the suppleness is coextensive with our humanity. It is every aspect of our humanity that is made capable of bearing a celestial meaning.

So this is what I would refer to as the “motor of sacramentality” which we can receive from Girard’s thought: its capacity to hold together two entirely different and indeed opposed founts of meaning at the same time, and to point us towards inhabiting the interface between these two, finding ourselves brought to life by meaning as we undergo one of those founts of meaning, the Logos, subverting the other, the Scapegoat mechanism, from within.

But here we have to be more exact in describing the relationship between the two founts of meaning, and this involves taking us out of the realm of the strictly chronological. For these two realities are not on the same level at all. On the one hand we have the world of signs created by the scapegoat mechanism, which is to say, the self-transcendence into which we humans bootstrapped ourselves, to use Jean-Pierre Dupuy’s language, and which led us to imagine an idolatrous other, or others, moving us. This has been building up to, and coming into, operation, over hundreds of thousands of years. And on the other we have something, the Passion of the Christ, including all the prophetic paths which led up to it. This latter can be understood, broadly speaking in two different ways, corresponding to very different understandings of “salvation”.

The first way sees the Passion of the Christ as a rescue operation, something from “outside” which “rushes in” to human time. There can be different theological explanations of the redemption leading to this view, but what they have in common is that the divine rescue project is reactive to the human problematic. Jesus is the divine solution to a human problem, usually referred to as “sin”. The power of God is the strength of an emergency intervention. I hope you can see that if that were the case, then there are not really two different founts of meaning, but only one: the scapegoat mechanism. And the Passion of the Christ is simply an inversion of that meaning, but within the same terms of reference.

This is why the theological understanding of the Passion of the Christ as something having happened before and outside all time, “simultaneously” with its happening in history, is so important. Something well understood by John in both his Gospel and the Apocalypse. It is why the phrase “the lamb slaughtered before the foundation of the world” in the latter, and the references to “before the foundation of the world” in the former are so crucial. Because with them we understand that the Passion of the Christ is a fount of meaning that is, and always was, and will be, both prior to, and simultaneous with, the actual chronological development of all created matter. This obviously includes the whole chronology of how we apes stumbled into humanity and thus, slowly, and with huge spaces for ritual, error, and stupidity, gradually found ourselves becoming intelligently aligned with the reality of the created world around us. And even thereafter consciously co-participating, for better or for worse, in the actual formation of reality.

In classic Girardian terms: the desire of the Other really is massively prior to the “self” of any existing matter.

Now, why is this so important for our understanding of sacramentality? Because it means that the whole “coming into the world” of the Logos is the source of an entirely different fount of meaning than the one produced by the scapegoat mechanism. A vastly richer, more powerful and gentler source of meaning. One which has always been there since the beginning, knocking at the door, as it were, and which has come into the midst of our source of meaning also very gently and richly. Yes, there is an element of “rescue” in it, which is why we still use metaphors like “redemption” and “salvation”: we are being set free from our addiction to and confinement within patterns of desire and idolatry which condemn us to futility. But far more than the element of “rescue” there is the note of created wholeness and safety, of prior and future purpose, which the word “Creator” should summon up for us.

Let us think, for instance, of the different notes in the word “mercy” depending on whether you hear it within the framework of a rescuing Logos or a creating Logos. In the first, “mercy” is something very akin to “pity”, a sense of compassion which a powerful being has for a weaker and more troubled being. This leads them to “reach down” in order to resolve a problem into which the weaker being has fallen.

But the word “mercy” has a quite different note if all the power of the creative Logos goes into showing itself equal-hearted with the weak and troubled human being. It means that mercy is something like “torn equality of heart” that comes alongside weak, violent, often stupid and self-deluded humans, while constantly trying to reassure us that all is OK, that all our fear, violence and evil, real as they are, and real as are their consequences, are as nothing compared to the love which is bringing us into being. Because all the power of the Logos is bringing into being something that is like itself: its image. This “long term alongside us” quality of mercy as something to do with the heartfelt nature of the act of creation is quite different from any understanding of a “powerful rescue”.

What I would like to suggest is that how we perceive the revelation of this “long-term alongside-us-mercy that is part of the act of creation” which came into our midst through the Passion of the Christ, and hence has been available to us ever since, is central to any understanding of sacramentality.

For it suggests that what we are talking about when we talk about sacramentality is a certain “excess of meaning”, one pointing up to the fulness of the Creator’s project, within which it is the Creator’s will that we be involved as humans. This “excess of meaning” is available to us within the regime of signs, things that contain what they point to and yet point to much more than they contain.

One dimension of this excess of meaning which we usually associate with the Catholic faith is a sense of being at home and at peace in created reality. Not attempting to flee from our bodiliness or our created-ness. Not seeking to exaggerate the spiritual and intellectual elements of our lives into a certainty, or a safety-seeking angelism. Becoming aware of a fondness for us underlying all created reality in all its, and our, muckiness. There is a “for us” quality to it, rather than a sense of everything that is being either cruelly indifferent to us, or “fundamentally out to get us”. It is not that we are complacently at home “in this world”, but that even in this world we find ourselves sharing and spreading intimations of a home that is coming upon us.

Now this excess of meaning related to Creation is not something separate from the Passion of the Christ, as though we acquire knowledge of Creation from one source, and knowledge of salvation from another. The excess of meaning is part of quite how different is the power and sense of meaning in operation in the Word coming into the world. And yet that this immense difference is slipping through into the regime of signs created by the scapegoat mechanism. How much greater, then, more powerful, surer, and more peaceful that sense of meaning is than the excitements of apparently strong, but eventually deceptive meaning, junk meaning, which the scapegoat mechanism has thrown up.

I’m going to give a thoroughly insufficient example from music to attempt to explain what I mean. In this example let Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, or Siegfried’s Death Music, stand in for the glories of this world, music generated by the scapegoat mechanism in all its lure and splendour. And let Rossini’s quintet “Nel volto estatico” from La Cenerentolastand in for the world of different, safer, more joyful meaning. I’ve chosen it because of the sense of different cartwheels of sound and meaning going around at the same time as each other, hinting at a perpetually alive dynamic bringing into being of different relations between people. 

I’m not saying that we should listen to these two pieces of music together, in terrible cacophony, for the volume of the Valkyries would easily out blast Rossini’s little domestic scene. Nor am I urging that if we listen carefully, and learn how to strain out the Wagnerian überdrama, turn down its volume, we will begin to get a sense of a different musical world seeping through the cracks, hints of a safer, more joyful world which this world’s music tends to drown out. I’m suggesting instead that we imagine that the composer of the quintet is, and has always been, and will be, at work constantly re-elaborating his piece so that while it actually respects the louder work, it is turning it to an entirely different register of meaning. Every space, interval, and harmony is worked through and re-worked so that we are given something that has the same formal structure as Wagner’s music, but yet sounds entirely Rossinian, and joyfully subverts from within all the pretension and incitation to violent vanity of the master of Bayreuth. An univocal mask of death and vengeance is being made infantile and supple in a living face of playfulness, silliness, forgiveness and joy.

Without this sense of the huge prior generosity and formidable power to change meaning that marks the Passion of the Christ, there is no opening up of sacramentality.

Once again, in strict Girardian terms, we learn to desire according to the desire of the other. Any object receives its value for us depending on through whose eyes we come to look at it. What we call sacramentality is the quality of the shine which created reality comes to have in our eyes if we find ourselves able to look at it with the same quality of regard as the Creator, which means with our world of signification subverted from within by a vastly more powerful, while apparently much weaker source of desire, but one which opens us out to what really is.

Now let us attend to a second dimension of this sacramentality. That it is inaugurated by a human and for humans. And that everything about it works at a human level.

A little bit of classic theology is in order to bring this out. When we talk about God we are talking about relationality. There is God, God’s criterion for God, which is God, and God’s interpretation of God’s criterion for God, which is God. These relations are prior to anything that is. And anything that is, is brought into being simultaneously by these relations: God, criterion and interpretation. I hope it is obvious that God’s criterion for God could not conceivably be less than that of which it is the criterion, and God’s interpretation of that criterion could not conceivably be less than the criterion it interprets.

Now we have known this thanks to God’s criterion for God, my word for the creative “Logos”. The Logos has been spoken into our midst as God’s Son, a human being who counted his equality with God a thing to be shared with us. This human being lived his life up to and into his death in a certain way, beginning to make intelligible for us, in human terms, God’s interpretation of God. He breathed all this out as a gift in his death. That he was God’s criterion for God was confirmed in his resurrection. That he had achieved his purpose was shown when the gift of God’s interpretation of God’s criterion for God, (my term for “the Holy Spirit”, now finally made intelligible in human terms and as illuminating human relationality and intelligence) was “poured out upon us”.

This was the process by which the knowing, loving and creating desire of the Other other for what really is is made available to us as a real pattern of human desire which can inhabit us, therefore opening us up to what really is.

All of which is to say God has a massive investment in humanity. So much so that God made a human interpretative process, a human relational process, a genuine participant in the project we call “creation”.

And when we talk about a human relational and interpretative process, we mean a bodily process, a process by which bodies become signs not merely of corruption or futility but of Wisdom pointing towards glory. And ever since the relatively small group of apes from which we are descended stumbled into symbolicity, this bodily relational and interpretative process has been both gesturally and verbally linguistic, has been sideways. By sideways I mean that it changes in the way we relate to each other as humans which change how we think and talk about things, which then feed back into further changes in how we relate and so on. This, rather than a dynamic which is kick-started and punctuated by top-down announcements from an outside source.

I take it to be vitally important that the gift to us of the Holy Spirit was the result of Jesus having made it humanly possible for God’s life to be lived among us at the horizontal level. In fact the Holy Spirit is sideways God, God made available to us at the sibling, relational level, taking us out of the idolatry of apparently “outside” gods.

Please notice what this means: our false transcendence tends to be projected towards an “upwards, or vertical sphere”. Sacrificers try to persuade an outside god to intervene with strength in the midst of our human affairs on the side of the sacrificing group. True transcendence, however, the one which was actually made available for us by the Passion of the Christ, always inhabits a sideways or horizontal sphere. The Holy Spirit is the in-between God, creating and recreating us through what is in between us.

This is why, after Christ’s death, there are no more “sacrifices” in Christianity. For the projection of badly lived relationality leads to the “self”, whether of a group or of individuals, protecting themselves against “another” or getting meaning over against “another”. Whereas the impulsion by sign of well-lived relationality moves towards the other, befriending and tending to embrace the other:  undoing rivalry, vengeance and so forth. True transcendence is sideways: Jesus’ fraternal relocation of God.

As a brief aside, I hope you can see how this issue is absolutely at the centre of certain difficulties which have come to light in the pontificate of Pope Francis. Vatican II had already begun the movement towards a sideways ecclesiology – with the image of the People of God, the notion that we are on the way, a pilgrim people, walking together “sun hodos”, which is what synodality is all about, with the understanding of revelation as a process which moves through “Gestis et verbis” rather than “verbis et gestis” – relationality comes before rationality. Yet this horizontal movement is seriously threatening to people who wish to hold on to a fictive verticality. Such people need the Church to be a guarantor of false transcendence, in fact an idol. One of the problems facing the Church after Vatican II was that while we began to understand many of the consequences of the sideways revelation of God, the basic understanding of salvation at a popular level has still been far too often dependent on a falsely sacrificial model of Christ’s death.

One of the wonderful gifts which René Girard left us was that by undoing that falsely sacrificial account of Christ’s death, and thus enabling the word “sacrifice” to be completely resignified, he has given us a way to begin to live out at the sacramental level the anthropological signs which had for far too long been celebrated within the false transcendence of sacrifice. I notice how some of those who protested at Pope Francis’ abrogation of Summorum Pontificorum in his Traditionis Custodes referred to the particular understanding of sacrifice to which they adhere, and which they found re-enacted in their own re-enactment of the Mass of St Pius V. These are the Catholic equivalents of those Evangelicals who hold to the Penal Substitution Theory of the Atonement. You can tell if a false transcendence is at work by the fact that it builds walls against others and creates goodness by comparison with others. Whereas real transcendence is shown when we allow the Holy Spirit to knock down our walls, leave us un-self-preoccupied about our own goodness, and empowered to reach out to others. All of this Pope Francis understands quite clearly, and it is going to take us quite some time to become converted to this sideways and sacramental ecclesiality.

Now I’m not going to discuss the individual sacraments here today. First, because I am a complete amateur in a field demanding an expertise that I do not have, an expertise available from very distinguished sacramental theologians like Louis-Marie Chauvet[2] in France or John Baldovin[3] in the USA. And secondly because I wanted to sketch as many dimensions as possible of the background sense of the desire of the Other other for us before turning to the particular human places where we celebrate the Other other working between us to change our shared meaning and thus our lives.

What I would like to suggest as part of that background sense is that we should start any discussion of any individual sacrament with an expectation of abundance rather than one of restriction. What do I mean by this? Well, that the one who has communicated with us, and whose communication has not passed away, gave the Holy Spirit not as a reward to good humans who belong to the right group, but as the constant reworking from within of the immense signed conversation in which creation consists. All humans are involved in this, good and bad alike, and whether they know it or not[4]. All are being nudged into becoming ever more conscious, intelligent and skilled participants in the lived and spoken interpretation of creative meaning. This means that we are right to imagine that new meaning is constantly trying to break through the meshes of our old meaning, constantly trying to turn us into bearers of more than we think we can be, constantly giving us new words and new depths to old signs.

Our friend and colleague Grant Kaplan gave us a wonderful example of this last November when he and his family found themselves transforming a purely this-world national and political sign, Thanksgiving Dinner, into something eucharistic by making sure that their table was joined by someone who had no one with whom to share the occasion. A famous cinematic example of this same tendency is to be found in the film “Babette’s Feast”. Some of what we learned about yesterday evening concerning the work of some of this University’s faculties[5] in changing meaning among young people in the La Flora region of Bogotá point to the same thing.

In other words, we don’t need to be frightened that if the “right people” don’t say the “right words” and do “the right actions” then somehow grace will be thwarted. Rather it is the case that grace is pushing us always into discovering and being recreated by signs that want to give themselves away, and are turning us into sharers in that giving away. As it were, heaven luring us forward by signs and traces of its being born in our midst, which means turning us into witnesses of its birth, and that role, the role of witness, meaning that we too are becoming signs for others, signs within the sign.

But before we think about how this could be applied to the specific sacramental signs which we associate with the life of the Church, the specific interruptions by heavenly meaning of our earthly practices of togetherness, (and again, I’m not going to be looking at those today), I would like to glance at what one might call a sacramental principle of intelligibility, something key in our ability to decode and recode human signs.

Here I am aware that what I have been sharing with you is a way of describing the effects of Jesus’ life and his going up to death as having had as its purpose not primarily either a paying of a price, or even a setting up a Church, but the giving of the Spirit to make us into participants in the New Creation. And of course this is a creative desire aiming to produce a new and previously unavailable meaning among all humans everywhere. That source of meaning always flows from and refers back to Jesus’s self-giving. It always contains within it the undoing of sacrifice and all the meaning that flows from that which Jesus’ death made available.

Yet here is what is interesting now: since the Spirit is at work resignifying meaning wherever there is human meaning, it can do so entirely independently of the formal communication of the Gospel. Which is to say that it is at work throughout the crisis which is the normal state of humanity, bringing forth things ancient and new. The crisis formed by our stumbling into symbolicity is not one that can be resolved. There is no stability just round the corner. No ordinary human peacefulness that has been temporarily interrupted. What there is, is also, and it exists simultaneously with that crisis, a capacity for turning signs into participations in the new creation through forgiveness which is becoming humanized among us. A capacity often refused, but always present.

Take for instance often tedious contemporary discussions between what is sometimes referred to as “woke” and its enemy. On the one side you have people who have become aware of real things that are true, concerning, for instance, white privilege, male privilege, and other analogous forms of majority blindness to the real. Genuine insights which are the fruit of the slow process of God’s forgiveness extending among the human race, principally made available by those who have suffered under another’s privilege. But insights which can then be grasped and used as weapons in new forms of self-righteousness over against those who don’t “get it”. And on the other side, and much more strongly, we find impenitence concerning those same insights, discomfort at what they reveal about us, driven by fear and dressed up in self-righteousness, with a deep well of unmentionable shame at their root. A form of goodness that seeks to insulate itself from becoming vulnerable to grace. As though anything other than forgiveness could ever make anyone holy.

Tiny flashes of the holy which are immediately grabbed by the sacred and turned to perverse use as we continue our obduracy in resisting the Holy Spirit.

Might the distinction between the holy and the sacred which began to emerge as Girard himself accepted the impossibility of another word for a positive sense of sacrifice, mark a hint of a new source of intelligibility of crisis[6]? A new capacity to discern and to work out how we are involved in whatever turn of the sacrificial crisis we find ourselves caught up in. Sacramentality is not the realm of dumb signs. There are always interpretative words which forge new meaning. How might we, relatively independently of formal religious belonging, discover with the linguistic tools which Girard has given us, creative participation in weak signs which forgiveness continues to make alive even as the violence of the crisis that is being human constantly tries to return to older and simpler meaning, the old wineskins of the sacred.

James Alison

Madrid-Cali-Bogotá June 2022

[1] I note here Martha Reineke’s point, made at this paper’s Bogotá presentation, that Girard’s account of the emergent sign is lacking all the tactile, olfactory and other sensory dimensions that come from maternity, upbringing and grooming and which have been constantly worked into the world of significance as it developed among us. She hinted at how much the Marian element of the Christian faith adds that dimension to the understanding of the true transcendental signifier.

[2] Cf:  Louis-Marie Chauvet Symbol and Sacrament: Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence Collegeville: Liturgical Press 2018 

[3] Cf: John Baldovin Reforming the Liturgy: A Response to the Critics Collegeville: Liturgical Press 2016

[4] Mt 25:36-40

[5] Different faculties of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, where this talk was originally given.

[6] I think particularly of Wolfgang Palaver’s book on this subject, Transforming the Sacred into Saintliness: Reflecting on Violence and Religion with René Girard (Elements in Religion and Violence), as well as his even more recent essay on Gandhi, Gandhi’s Militant Nonviolence in the Light of Girard’s Mimetic Anthropology (Religions 12: 988).