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Journal of Religion and Violence

Volume 1, Issue 2, 2013
Special Issue on René Girard

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1. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Wilhelm Guggenberger, Wolfgang Palaver, Special Issue: René Girard’s Mimetic Theory and its Contribution to the Study of Religion and Violence
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2. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Nikolaus Wandinger, Religion and Violence: A Girardian Overview
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René Girard’s mimetic theory sees mimesis as the most central determinant of human behavior. According to him it also generated so much violence that it threatened the very existence of humanity. Yet, the same force also found a means to minimize and contain violence—through religion. Girard distinguishes between archaic and Biblical religion and finds criteria for this distinction and the anthropology and theology of a religion. This article tries to give an overview of Girard’s theory with special consideration to the role of religion.
3. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Mathias Moosbrugger, René Girard and Raymund Schwager on Religion, Violence, and Sacrifice: New Insights from Their Correspondence
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This article shows, that despite their different academic backgrounds and even before having met, cultural anthropologist René Girard and theologian Raymund Schwager had surprisingly similar convictions concerning the decisive dynamics in interpersonal relations and the problematic field of collective violence and its connection to the logic of sacrifice. Nevertheless, they differed in their applications of these convictions when it came to appraising the specific character of theJudeo-Christian revelation and the Christ event. Therefore, for several years, they had an intense discussion about this issue. This discussion, which Girardians regard as the source of Girard’s most important re-evaluation of his thinking, is reconstructed using material from their letter exchange. It is argued that this discussion was quite different from what it is usually believed to have been like.
4. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Wilhelm Guggenberger, Taming Violence
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To René Girard, religion is not a source of violence but rather one of the most widespread means to reduce violence. It even preserved archaic societies from self-destruction and worked in the same mode for most of history. The article tries to depict this mechanism and to explain its paradoxical nature, which is the taming of violence by violent means. Further on, functional equivalents are shown, which become necessary because of the enlightenment triggered by the biblical revelation and other axial-age-dynamisms.
5. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Wolfgang Palaver, Terrorism versus Non-Violent Resistance
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The following article starts with the horror and terror that have been caused be recent terrorist attacks like the mass murder of 9/11 or the Norway massacre from 2011. From a Western perspective suicide terrorism is especially terrifying. In a first part of his article Palaver tries to show that suicide terrorism, despite our first reaction to it, is a rational phenomenon that has to be understood precisely in order to respond to this challenge properly. Drawing on the work of LouiseRichardson and other experts on terrorism he shows that traditional forms of military sacrifices that have forced people to die for their country is much closer to suicide terrorism than we think at first sight. By using René Girard’s mimetic theory, Palaver’s second part focuses on the complex relationship between religion and violence. He especially emphasizes the danger that follows the Abrahamic overcoming of the scapegoat mechanism – the Abrahamic revolution parting from the world of human sacrifice – if the solidarity with the victims is disconnected from forgiveness. In the third part Palaver turns to an alternative model of how we can respond to injustice and oppression by emphasizing a still often overlooked legacy of the Abrahamic tradition that avoids the dangers that characterizecontemporary terrorism. From this perspective, non-violence, forgiveness, and the love of enemies become important criteria for martyrdom and resistance.
6. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Jodok Troy, The Power of the Zealots: Religion, Violence, and International Relations
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This article evaluates the issue of religion and conflict in international relations. René Girard’s mimetic theory offers explanations for basic problems of the ‘new world order’: why violence is a persistent pattern in human and political conduct as well as the understanding of religion and conflict. Therefore the article, after an assessment of framing religion and conflict in the context of theoretical approaches to political science, evaluates the possibilities of mimetic theory to provide a new understanding of the nexus of religion and conflict in international relations. It will do so in arguing for the hypothesis that the mimetic theory provides insights to the interplay of the evolving of power as it is described by the Realist tradition of international relations. The power of the ‘zealots,’ is the power of mimetic desire, which always threatens to bring people apart.
7. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 1 > Issue: 2
Stephen L. Gardner, Modernity as Revelation
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The notion of apocalypse is the unifying architecture of Rene Girard’s theory of history. The terrible paradox that motivates Girard is the inner affinity between Apocalypse and Enlightenment, progress and the disintegration of stable order, revelation and violence. In this essay, I look at three dimensions of Girard’s vision of the “end of history”: The first is the rise of “victimology” and its idioms in Western culture (and now their globalization) since the end of World War II, signaling the collapse of Western ethics through their own truth. The second is Girard’s image of the end of history in terms of the “return of the archaic,” a relapse into the chaos of the evolutionary beginnings of the human at the summit of cultural achievement. As moral distinctions crumble, the polarities of political life become more brittle and violent. And the last is to indicate (however sketchily) Girard’s relation to a modern tradition of apocalyptic thought that includes Pascal andRousseau, Marx and Sartre, and Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. As with his recent appropriation of Carl von Clausewitz, he aims both to finish and to finish off this tradition by bringing it back to its Christian underpinnings.