Saturday, March 6, 2010

In the Mimetic Maelstrom of Sin

NEAR THE END, there in his bunker beneath the garden of the old Reich Chancellery building at Wilhelmstraße 77, Adolph Hitler ordered his minister of armaments, Albert Speer, to carry out a nationwide scorched earth policy, in what became known as the Nero Order. Hitler felt that the German people had shown themselves to be weak, and undeserving of a leader such as himself. Having failed their test of character, they should be condemned to destruction.

Happily for the German populace, Speer defied the Führer's order.

I like many others lived through the Cold War fears of nuclear annihilation, as the United States and the Soviet Union circled one another like two little boys in the basement of an apartment building, up to their knees in gasoline, each gathering more and more matches, threatening to strike them.

"The problem of the doubles," as René Girard explicates it, is seen in the judgment of King Solomon (1 Kings 3:16-28) over two mothers each of whom claimed a baby was her own. The false mother accepted Solomon's decision (no pun intended - L. decidere means to divide by the sacrificial knife) to cut the child in half and give half to each mother. The true mother said, no, give the child to the false mother and so allow it to live.

The biblical spirit is always to step back from the mimetically induced rivalry in self sacrifice, turn the other cheek, rather than focusing on one's rival in seething hatred to the point of destroying the rival - and even perhaps oneself - in the maelstrom of sin.

The escalating doubling rivalries seen in many Western governments, and their concomitant stalemating, finger-pointing, and uncompromising dances of death wherein neither side is willing to back down, I fear, is leading not closer to the biblical spirit of self sacrifice but to scorched earth and acceptance of half-an-infant.

I do not know what the solution is. But I am certain that, while the Scimitar threatens to take over from within by sheer population explosion, this mimetic rivalry can only exacerbate all of our present woes.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to intervene. It seems our only hope.

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