Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bring On the Meltdown

In a fascinating report from the L. A. Times, we see that A few fringe groups seek to sow chaos, convinced it will hasten the arrival of the Mahdi, the Shiites' 12th imam who they believe will bring peace.

From the perspective of mimetic theory, this is structurally called "sacrificial preparation." The anthropological record contains many instances during the time when the cultural cohesion was waning that the priesthood would choreograph such a cultural meltdown: release reprehensibles - murderers, violent criminals - encourage the breaking of traditional mores and taboos - adultery, theft, etc. All this to intensify the cultural crisis already at hand.

In our cultural hardwiring, all human beings know that at the paroxysm's climax, someone (usually a member of the priesthood, an imam, cleric, or an "ad hoc" priest) will make the accusatory gesture - "It's HIS fault" - signaling the culprit upon whom the mob can vent its collective wrathful violence.

This scapegoating "mechanism", R. Girard insists, is the origin of religion - of the gods - what he calls the "primitive sacred." And through the three components essential to its continuance and development - ritual, myth, and prohibition - arises what we all know as conventional culture.

So, these "fringe groups" of Shiite Muslims know a thing or two about how to re-invent peace and harmony from the perspective of the primitive sacred. Ratcheting up the sacrificial ante is a sure fire element of the reestablishment of a kind of peace the world understands.

Structurally, one might argue forcefully that the 60's in America were just such a "sacrificial preparation," replete with the murder of JFK, MLK, Jr., and RFK.

It just isn't the kind that the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, and his Catholic Church seek nor grant. "My peace I leave you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you."

Where do these two organizing principles meet today, the former still seeks victims to reestablish its satanic kingdoms. And there the latter still provides "lambs slain since the foundation of the world."

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