MIMETIC MARGINS ARCHIVES

Jezus van Nazareth is geen klassiek mythologische held, en net daarom is hij Christus…

Wie ernaar zoekt, vindt op het wereldwijde web gemakkelijk vergelijkingen tussen Jezus van Nazareth en allerlei mythologische helden. Dat zulke vergelijkingen mogelijk zijn, is op zich niet vreemd. De auteurs van het Nieuwe Testament geloven immers dat Jezus van Nazareth ‘de Christus’ is, en om te verduidelijken wat dat betekent maken ze gebruik van alom […]

“Ga, en zondig voortaan niet meer…”

Een oproep tot herbronning binnen de Rooms-Katholieke Kerk naar aanleiding van de recente stellingnamen van de Congregatie voor de Geloofsleer aangaande homoseksuele relaties. Bezeten In de evangeliën staat een eigenaardig verhaal over een bezeten man die zichzelf slaat met stenen (Marcus 5, 1-20). De manier waarop hij zichzelf behandelt, blijkt onder andere een imitatie te […]

“Go, and sin no more…”

A call for renewal of the Catholic Church in response to the recent statements on homosexual relationships by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Possessed There is a peculiar story in the Gospels about a possessed man who beats himself with stones (Mark 5:1-20). The way he treats himself turns out to be, […]

Merry Christmas!

I created the following Christmas meditation/wish video first for the Jesuit high school where I am teaching religion (Sint-Jozefscollege – SJC – Aalst, Belgium). The two versions below, one in English and one in Dutch, are slightly edited and personalized. I hope these meditations might help you to reflect upon The Mystery of the Word […]

White Privilege on the Right and the Left – A Lesson from Malcolm X

White Privilege Forgotten by the Right I’ve had students defend their rather negative attitude at school like this: “High school is a time for rebellion. As a high school kid, you should disobey your teachers in order to discover yourself. Perhaps most of all, high school is a time for pranks and practical jokes.” Anthropological […]

WHY WE HATE – EEN BESPREKING

In de loop der jaren heb ik heel wat materiaal verzameld waarnaar expliciet in de documentaire-reeks Why We Hate wordt verwezen. Ik deel het relevante materiaal graag per aflevering, telkens ook met aanduiding van enkele kerngedachten. Wie interesse heeft in de psychosociale dynamieken die het menszijn beheersen, krijgt op die manier misschien aanzetten tot verdere […]

The God of Christ Equals the Pinnacle of Narcissistic Sadomasochism?

Introduction A good way to assess the passion story of Jesus and what it allegedly reveals about the God of Christ, is the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. Jesus uses the father in this parable to clarify something essential about the God he proclaims. When the son returns, not without opportunistic motives, […]

Van Goede Vrijdag naar Stille Zaterdag in tijden van pandemie

GOEDE VRIJDAG Bedrog? Het verhaal over Jezus van Nazareth die sterft aan het kruis, lijkt het verhaal van een mislukking. Het verhaal over zijn verrijzenis, enkele dagen later, beschouwen sommigen dan ook als een frauduleuze opsmuk van zijn teleurgestelde leerlingen. In dat geval hebben de leerlingen van Jezus overigens niet alleen zichzelf bedrogen. Hun zogenaamd […]

Een Palmzondagmeditatie in tijden van corona

“Sterk als de dood is de liefde.” Het zijn woorden uit het Hooglied (8, 6), één van de kleinste boeken uit de Hebreeuwse Bijbel. Het is bovendien het enige boek waarin God niet expliciet wordt vermeld. Als een bundel van rijk geschakeerde, erotische liefdespoëzie, waarin een jonge vrouw het voortouw neemt, kent het Hooglied een […]

Mimetic Theory Overview – Video Series

The following video series provides a preliminary understanding of human culture from the perspective of mimetic theory, which was first developed by René Girard (1923-2015). I made the first parts to give an overview of some basic cultural facts. The later parts of the video series deal with mimetic theory’s explanation of those facts. PART […]

“Geïndoctrineerd door de jezuïeten” (SJC Aalst)

Misschien is het volgende goed nieuws voor de tegenstanders van het godsdienstonderwijs op katholieke scholen en van alles wat naar godsdienst ruikt: (1) Wij, godsdienstleerkrachten, geloven niet automatisch in God. (2) Ja, wij godsdienstleerkrachten geven grif toe dat we de jeugd trachten te “corrumperen” met “vreemde” ideeën. (3) Ja, de christelijke traditie is – zoals […]

The Point Yuval Harari Misses of Myth – Bringing René Girard to the Table

A FAMILIAR SCENE BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION “Why don’t you girls get along with June anymore?” Regina’s mother asked. Regina and her two friends, Gretchen and Eve, stared at her in bewilderment. They were about to go on a shopping spree. For weeks they had gone out without June. “She has changed so much,” Regina […]

The Absurdity of the Christian Faith? Hell, yeah!

THE FOLLOWING IS THE RESULT OF A CONVERSATION WITH AN ATHEIST WHO ASKED ME SOME BASIC QUESTIONS ABOUT MY CHRISTIAN FAITH. What is the purpose of the New Testament? Well, the writers of the New Testament want to enable an encounter with Jesus of Nazareth. Why would that be important? The New Testament authors all […]

“All the World’s a Mimetic Stage…” – Some Revealing Comedy

The following is a collection of (tragic) comical references to some of the cornerstones of René Girard’s mimetic theory, especially its analysis of the reality of mimetic desire and rivalry in human relationships. They appeared on Mimetic Margins throughout the years. Have fun with the short videoclips from Mr Bean, Chris Rock, The Fresh Prince […]

Hoe OpenVLD en N-VA zichzelf dreigen te verliezen in hun strijd tegen het katholiek onderwijs

Naar aanleiding van de discussie over de organisatie en de inhoud van het levensbeschouwelijk onderwijs in Vlaanderen schreef ik een opiniestuk voor de website Thomas (over godsdienstonderwijs, KU Leuven). Het stuk kreeg als titel Twee uur levensbeschouwelijke grammatica en woordenschat zijn geen luxe, en werd opgenomen in een online dossier gericht aan de regeringspartijen. Hierna […]

Challenging Stories of Revelation

On Seven Stories – How to Study and Teach the Nonviolent Bible SEVEN STORIES – GENERAL OUTLINE In 2017, Anthony W. Bartlett publishes a remarkable book, Seven Stories – How to Study and Teach the Nonviolent Bible (Hopetime Press, Great Britain, 2017). It is the result of a lifelong personal engagement with Biblical texts and […]

To Jesus or Not To Jesus? (JECSE, January 22-25, 2019)

2019 started with a bang for some pastoral workers and teachers of Jesuit high schools from all over Europe. From Tuesday January 22nd until Friday January 25th, representatives of pastoral care groups assembled in Manresa, Spain, for a conference that was dubbed Can we talk about Jesus? About 100 participants from 17 countries gathered to […]

Love the Enemy’s Side of the Story (Covington Kids vs Nathan Phillips)

I was ready alright. I saw a clip on YouTube where “white privileged teen boys of an all-male Catholic school (Covington)” were taunting and mocking Nathan Phillips, an Omaha Tribe member and Vietnam veteran. This happened after the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Moreover, some of the boys were wearing caps that said MAGA […]

Environmentalist Paul Kingsnorth and his Pagan-Christian Spirituality

Paul Kingsnorth is a former green activist who believes that the environmental movement has gone wrong. An interview with him appeared on Dutch television channel VPRO (tegenlicht series). Watch it here (or click here for PDF with background information in Dutch; or read the article by Frank Mulder on his website here):   Kingsnorth’s analysis […]

Rome, René Girard and the Sixteen-Year-Old Researcher

Linde Van den Eede, one of my high school students for almost two years now, wrote a very interesting paper on the end of the Roman Republic from the perspective of René Girard’s “mimetic theory”. She chose it as an assignment for her English class (English, mind you, is a third language here in Belgium). […]

STAR WARS TUSSEN MYTHE EN EVANGELIE

“Het uiteindelijke idee was om een verhaal over redding te creëren, om te laten zien hoe de schurk eigenlijk de held is.” – George Lucas, in een interview naar aanleiding van AFI Life Achievement Award. Het doel van het volgende video-essay is om het verschil op het spoor te komen tussen de manier waarop Joseph […]

STAR WARS BETWEEN MYTH AND GOSPEL

“The original idea was a story, ultimately of salvation, of revealing that the villain is actually the hero.” – George Lucas, in an interview on the occasion of the AFI Life Achievement Award. The goal of the following video essay is to highlight the difference between Joseph Campbell’s reading of myths and René Girard’s reading […]

Margaret Atwood meets René Girard in “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Rebecca Mead wrote an article for The New Yorker (April 17, 2017) on one of today’s most famous writers, Margaret Atwood, the Prophet of Dystopia. The article particularly focuses on Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale: In writing “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Atwood was scrupulous about including nothing that did not have a historical antecedent or […]

Godsdienstonderwijs 2.0

HET VERHAAL VAN PETRUS (NAAR MT 26) Petrus was net verhuisd. Toch voelde hij zich vrij zelfzeker op zijn nieuwe school omdat hij ten minste een van zijn medescholieren al kende: een jongen genaamd Jezus. Petrus realiseerde zich echter niet dat Jezus hevig gepest werd door sommige van Petrus zijn nieuwe klasgenoten, hoewel Jezus tot […]

A New Atheist and a Fundamentalist Walk into a Bar

January 8, 4042 (the future) A so-called new atheist and a fundamentalist walk into a bar discussing a passage from the fundamentalist’s new Bible on “Richard Dawkins, the one and only true Messiah, who lived about 2000 years ago (at the dawn of the 20th century)”. Richard Dawkins, the Enlightened One sent by God, had […]

The TRUTH that sets us FREE to LOVE

[ZIE VERDER VOOR GEDEELTELIJKE NEDERLANDSE VERTALING] THE STORY OF PETER Peter was the new kid in town. Still he felt rather confident at his new school since he knew at least one of his schoolmates beforehand, a guy named Jesus. What Peter didn’t realize, however, was the fact that Jesus was heavily bullied by Peter’s […]

Man MAKING UP and MADE UP BY Mimetic Stories

Some stories are more true than others. This statement runs the risk of being loaded so much with criticisms by postmodern epistemologies that it might ultimately be abandoned, destined to become a lone voice crying in the wilderness of supposedly interchangeable cultural narratives. And yet the idea that there are different degrees of truth in […]

Ode To My Bullies

Ode To My Bullies   At first you called me gay behind my back As if I would be troubled ’bout such fame. I kissed a man before your eyes – you came –, Fulfilled desire that grows from greater lack.   Obsessed with sex you seem to be to shame. You play with people […]

Don’t Blame the NON-EXISTENT GOD, Focus on the Reality of LOVE

I’m sure many of us hear the following voices from time to time: They say that I should trust my boyfriend and respect his personal space and freedom, but that’s easy for them to say. How would they treat their current partners if they had been cheated on by their former partners, not once, but […]

Left with Right Identity Politics? A Jewish Challenge

“Cutting off hands, Congo is ours!” These words are sung regularly nowadays by certain young people across Flanders, Belgium. I heard them last year during a sporting event organized by the school I’m working in. The following is an example of a sticker found at my school: I also heard the racist chant on Congo […]

The Jesus Treatment of Bullying

In Catholicism, A Journey to the Heart of the Faith (Image Books, 2011) Robert Barron explains the nonviolent way of Jesus in the face of evil as a “third” way, apart from violently fighting or fleeing the evil (pp. 48-51): In words that still take our breath away, Jesus says, “You have heard that it […]

Freedom Defined

I live in Belgium. Belgium is a small country in continental Europe, internationally known for its beer, chocolate, waffles, currently world class soccer team, Brussels (the capital and “the capital of Europe”) and, well… French fries. A lot of Belgians also pride themselves on having one of the most liberal legislations concerning moral issues like […]

Het betere bochtenwerk van Patrick Loobuyck

Er was mij op voorhand gezegd: “Verwacht niet dat Patrick Loobuyck de dialoog zal aangaan.” Een professor Levensbeschouwing die voortdurend pleit voor interlevensbeschouwelijk gesprek zou de dialoog niet aangaan? Ik had moeite om dat te geloven. Vandaar dat ik bleef werken aan een pamflet over godsdienstonderwijs (lees het hier en sluit je eventueel aan bij […]

Een kruis over religie?

[PDF] KLIK HIER VOOR SAMENVATTING (PDF) PDF: BEKNOPTE INLEIDING OP DE GESCHIEDENIS VAN DE WESTERSE WIJSBEGEERTE LEESWIJZER BIJ DE ONDERSTAANDE TEKST: I. KLASSIEK RELIGIEUS DENKEN IN ARCHAÏSCHE CULTUREN: OVERZICHT (FEITENMATERIAAL) VERKLARING VANUIT UNIVERSEEL MENSELIJKE EIGENSCHAPPEN (THEORIE) II. DE JOODS-CHRISTELIJKE TRADITIE ALS KRITIEK OP “RELIGIEUS DENKEN”: IN ARCHAÏSCHE ZIN, MET DE OEDIPUSMYTHE ALS SAMENVATTING VAN “KLASSIEK […]

The Sacrifices of Socrates and Jesus: a Comparison

Much has been written already about similarities and differences between the trials of Socrates and Jesus. This short sketch tries to understand how their sacrifices are interpreted in some key text fragments. It also tries to answer the question whether or not these sacrifices should be understood as vindications of a social order based on […]

Christian Love During Christmas Exams (Nietzsche vs Scheler)

It’s that time of year again. Advent? Christmas shopping? Charity fundraising? Sure. All of that and more. But also, exams! It made me think of a particular situation between two friends, Jack and Bob. Jack used to come up to Bob in the morning, while Bob was repeating his courses for the exam that was […]

Slavoj Zizek on Atheism & Christianity

It is no secret that atheist philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, relies quite heavily on René Girard’s assessment of Christianity. Slavoj Zizek refers to René Girard‘s work in the book God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse and concludes that Christianity, revealing the innocence of erstwhile sacrificial victims, “[undermines] the efficiency of the entire sacrificial mechanism of scapegoating: […]

Schandpalen vermijden voor Bart De Pauw… en de vrouwen

Na meldingen over grensoverschrijdend gedrag van Bart De Pauw zet de Vlaamse openbare omroep VRT de samenwerking met hem stop. Dat nieuws geraakt bekend op 9 november 2017. Bart De Pauw is geen monster. Daarvan ben ik overtuigd. Tegelijk geloof ik ook niet dat de VRT, of de leiding van de zender, zich louter laat […]

(A)theist Killers and the Picture of a Happy Man

[KLIK HIER VOOR SAMENVATTING IN HET NEDERLANDS – PDF] Skeptic Brian Dunning sharply observes the following: “Who has been the worst throughout history: atheist regimes or religious regimes? Obviously the big numbers come from the 20th century superpowers (China, Russia, Germany) so the answer depends on how you classify those. And this is where the […]

GEEN VREDE, MAAR EEN ZWAARD (Erik Buys)

GEEN VREDE, MAAR EEN ZWAARD – Een christelijke provocatie in tijden van Facebook, IS en vluchtelingenstromen is onder andere te bestellen bij uitgeverij Averbode – klik hier. Geïnteresseerden kunnen hieronder meer informatie vinden. De wereldgeschiedenis is meer dan eens getekend door utopieën van vrede die telkens tragisch ontaarden in dystopieën van geweld. Jezus’ woord in […]

Fun@School (SJC Aalst, Collegecross, 2017)

Once upon a time, there was this Muslim woman who wore a headscarf and always went on a rant when she saw other Muslim women without headscarves. She thought Muslim women without the scarf were “bad Muslims”. After her husband died, however, she herself decided not to wear the scarf any longer and let her […]

Science or the Resurrection to Beauty

THE SPIRITUALITY OF A SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDE Spirituality or a spiritual attitude basically consists of an interest in reality because of reality itself. It means that you do not reduce reality to a particular need or something that is useful (and, of course, what human beings need is not only defined by nature; we also mimetically […]

Vlaamse helden en zwarte zeurpieten?

HET VERHAAL VAN SOFIE Sofie was nog net geen vijftien jaar toen ze op een vrijdagavond het huis uit sloop om naar een fuif van haar jeugdbeweging te fietsen in de parochiezaal van haar dorp. Ze had geen toelating gekregen van haar ouders, maar ze was vastbesloten om eens iets “rebels” te doen. In wat […]

Sherin Khankan on Islam

“The reactions from Muslims were quite moderate, but from the right wing parties, Islamophobes, Nazi-parties… we had very bad reactions.”

The Power of Myth (Joseph Campbell vs René Girard)

Preface Mimetic theory as it was first developed by René Girard explains how the universal mythological structure that is described by Joseph Campbell (among others) is based on a mistake or even lie regarding victims of group violence in early human communities. MIMETIC THEORY (RENÉ GIRARD) – FIVE-PART VIDEO SERIES The following five-part video series […]

No Self-Respect at Harvard University (Maarten Boudry)

Some atheists nowadays are a bit confused as to what contemporary theology is all about, also in Belgium. Hence it is no surprise that Maarten Boudry, a quite public philosopher of science and a devoted opponent of all things religious, could tweet the following statement: Well, what do you know, according to Maarten Boudry, Harvard […]

Patrick Perquy interviews René Girard

The following interview with René Girard by Patrick Perquy was last broadcast on Belgian national television April 23, 2000 (Braambos). The interview was recorded on the occasion of an honorary doctorate from the University of Antwerp (Universiteit Antwerpen) for Girard in 1995. It’s in French with Dutch subtitles. The two men talk about Shakespeare, Greek […]

Let’s kill Jesus!

This is the story of Jesus, the reporter. He did a series of interviews with representatives of different extremist factions in this world. This post contains fragments of his conversations, references to actual events and commentaries by an expert. It also reveals what eventually happened to this alleged devil’s advocate. From an interview with Richie, […]

The Trump Reflex

The door bell rings. I open the door. In front of me are two of Jehovah’s witnesses. I invite them in. It’s a force of habit, enhanced by the fact that I’m a teacher and student of religion. I always jump at the opportunity to ask them a few questions. Actually, I’m really curious about […]

Tussen 9/11 (Twin Towers) en 11/9 (Trump Tower)

Op 7 september 2005, beïnvloed door het werk van politicoloog Benjamin Barber en socioloog Manuel Castells, schreef ik onder andere het volgende voor een artikel in Tertio. Blijkbaar is er sindsdien niet zoveel veranderd in de wereld. Enkele evoluties hebben zich gewoon doorgezet (ik geef een aantal voorbeelden tussen haakjes): In Europa, maar ook daarbuiten, […]

Truth, Goodness, Beauty

I’m wondering… When was the last time you’ve measured the hertz of the joy you felt while gaining a new insight? I’m wondering… Have you recently written down the mass density of your deepest friendships or the miles of your biggest loves? I’m wondering… How many pounds of beauty have you experienced already this week? […]

In Memoriam Michaël Ghijs

Saturday, February 23, 2008. Gabriel Garrido, a renowned conductor of Latin American baroque music, is about to begin an evening concert at Cité de la Musique, Paris. His equally famous Ensemble Elyma is ready, together with eleven members of the Belgian boy and men choir Schola Cantorum Cantate Domino. All of a sudden, maestro Garrido turns around […]

The Myth of “The Evil, Unenlightened Catholic Church”

We all know the story: The Christian faith is, by its very nature, an enemy of science. The Catholic Church has, during its history, vehemently and violently suppressed scientists who came up with new scientific ideas. Scientists from the past who believed in God did so because of their upbringing, or they faked it because they […]

Invitations to Explorations (COV&R 2016)

The annual and 26th conference of the Colloquium on Violence & Religion (COV&R) coincided with the 6th annual conference of the Australian Girard Seminar. It was the first meeting of its kind after the passing of René Girard (December 25, 1923 – November 4, 2015), whose groundbreaking interdisciplinary work and eventually developed mimetic theory is […]

Gay & Muslim, Twice the Scapegoat

Who or what is to blame for the massacre at Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, Florida (June 12, 2016)? Muslims? Religious people in general? Islam? Religion in general? Or just the twisted mindset of a troubled individual? Omar Mateen, a 29 year old American Muslim of Afghan descent leaves 49 people dead and […]

On Human Sacrifice (Article Nature)

I can’t help but quote the following article by Philip Ball in its entirety. It summarizes an interesting paper that appeared in Nature by Joseph Watts, Ritual human sacrifice promoted and sustained the evolution of stratified societies – Nature 532, 228–231 (14 April 2016). For those of us who are familiar with the work of René […]

Saved from the Denial of Death?

In 1973, cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker (1924-1974) published his seminal book The Denial of Death. Because of this publication, a year later and two months after his death, Becker was granted the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction. The Denial of Death elaborates the following thesis: The basic motivation for human behavior is our biological need to control our […]

Denkgelacherig atheïstisch narcisme / Atheist Narcissism

DENKGELACHERIG ATHEÏSTISCH NARCISME [SEE BELOW FOR ENGLISH TRANSLATION] De volgehouden logica in de evangeliën en de verder ontwikkelde christelijke traditie, wijst in de richting van “Jezus als ultieme, soms pijnlijk consequente realist in een wereld van narcisten”. [Voor meer hierover: klik hier]. Dat bepaalde mensen, ondanks alle rationele argumenten, blind blijven voor die logica, heeft […]

Prince (1958-2016)

On Thursday, April 21, 2016 legendary pop artist Prince was found dead in his studio. Love him or hate him, without a doubt he was a true musical genius who inspired and will inspire countless musicians, artists, performers and fans. His was a genuine celebration of Life. Sometimes it snows in April… A tribute:

Via Crucis (Wim Delvoye & David Bowie)

Wim Delvoye made an intriguing Via Crucis, using X-ray images of rats to depict the different Stations of the Cross. I used it together with the song Lazarus by the late David Bowie to make a meditation. Apart from some scenes of the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman, other images included are: Ash Jesus (Zhang Huan, 2011) Still […]

The Porn Star & Ignatius

What makes a saint a saint? Christian spirituality, and the Catholic spirituality in particular, very much focuses on the power of examples. As modern psychology shows, humans get access to their particular cultural environments through mimetic processes (i.e. processes of imitation). Perhaps the importance of imitation as the heart of the human (psycho)social identity formation becomes […]

What If Dirk Draulans Read René Girard?

Dirk Draulans, biologist and science journalist for Belgian Knack magazine, wrote an interesting article on the question of violence in human life (Violence is deeply rooted in us – The biology of terror; PDF: Het geweld zit diep in ons – De biologie van terreur). He drew from several recent findings concerning the ongoing struggle […]

Dag gedichtendag

Vroeger schreef ik ook wel eens een gedicht. Ter gelegenheid van gedichtendag heb ik mijn poëtische aspiraties even uit de kist gehaald. Ze blijken nog altijd springlevend van naïviteit, overdreven dramatiek, vaak uitgemolken clichés, ongegronde Sehnsucht en teen angst. Af en toe getuigen ze ook van een toevallig begenadigd moment, of van ongeremde experimenteerdrift. En […]

Mimetic Food Habits

It would be very interesting to create an intensified dialogue between Paul Rozin‘s research on the acquisition of likes and dislikes of foods and René Girard’s mimetic theory. Although some scholars already made some connections between the two (for instance in Culinary Cultures of Europe: Identity, Diversity and Dialogue, ed. by Darra Goldstein & Kathrin […]

The Gospel in Star Wars

1. The Myth of the Hero’s Journey in Star Wars Much has been written about the mythological nature of the Star Wars movie saga. Indeed its creator, George Lucas, is heavily influenced by the writings of mythologist Joseph Campbell. Campbell even became a mentor to Lucas, helping him to create this new mythology for the […]

Milgram Obedience Study / Stanford Prison Experiment / Social Cognition / Robbers Cave Experiment

Students of psychology would not be surprised by some of the key statements made by René Girard and his mimetic theory. Indeed social psychology time and again shows how people’s social behavior and self-concepts are shaped by imitation processes and scapegoat mechanisms, as stressed by mimetic theory. For instance, Stanley Milgram’s obedience study and the […]

The Coach = An Easy Scapegoat

Ruben Van Gucht, a Belgian sports journalist, did a little research on the question whether soccer teams really benefit from firing a coach and attracting a new one when a team is not delivering expected results. He presented his results on De Afspraak (December 8, 2015), a Belgian TV-show. The short answer to Van Gucht’s research […]

Mimetic Big Bang Theory

Sometimes, just sometimes, quite revealing scientific insights slip into popular culture. I was watching a rerun of an episode of The Big Bang Theory sitcom on Belgian television. More specifically, I found out, I was watching The White Asparagus Triangulation (episode 9, season 2 – click to watch). The title itself can already be connected […]

Women & the Spiritual Clash with Terror

[READ A PDF-VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE HERE] Even before the terrorist shootings at Charlie Hebdo and later this year at other sites in Paris, quality labeled Belgian magazines and newspapers reported on the socially precarious situation in certain areas of Brussels, especially in Molenbeek. I’ve translated parts of an article that appeared in Knack magazine […]

Fight over “True Islam”

Well, here’s my attempt at creating a “Girardian” image. René Girard constantly demonstrates how enemies have the tendency to imitate each other, although rather unwittingly. The more they resemble each other, the more they strive to differentiate themselves from each other, which tragically ends up in an even more undifferentiated monstrous cycle of mutual aversion […]

The Jihadist Miracle

“It’s because of his ADHD. It’s because of her ADD. It’s because of a difficult situation at home. It’s because he is highly intelligent: he is not challenged enough to study more thoroughly. It’s the teachers: they don’t explain things well enough, they’re boring. It’s because of the educators: they take aim at him and […]

To The Heart of the Christian Faith

Possessed by the Demon of Social Shame and Guilt Bob was called to the principal’s office. Together with other students he took part in a display of troublesome behavior while being presented a movie in the school’s theater. He knew that the principal would punish him severely if the principal would find out that he […]

An Atheist Illusion

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, […]

De Hoer in Dimitri Verhulst?

‘Bent u zover, heer?’ fluisterde ze hem toe, volhardend in haar rol. Hij ging over haar heen liggen, kwam in haar, en begon kort en ritmisch te stoten, steeds vuriger en feller. En toen ze met evenveel hartstocht reageerde, zakte haar sluier af en werd haar gezicht volledig zichtbaar. Zal hij me nu herkennen? vroeg […]

In Memoriam: RIP René Girard (1923-2015)

From the Dominican Republic to Australia, from the United States of America to countries all over Europe, from Brazil to India and South Korea, from the left to the right in political quarters, from the world of science and the humanities, from believers and atheists alike, from media big (e.g. The New York Times) and small […]

Killing Idols – Commemorating René Girard’s Spirituality

“In the end, she’s just a mere mortal, just like all the rest of us, just like me…” It’s something we hear quite often, explicitly or implicitly, when people talk about “the rich, the famous and/or the geniuses” of this world. Why is it that we often like to read what tabloid newspapers write about […]

The Truth about Refugees

In the Gospel of John, the devil is a personification of the scapegoat mechanism (which means that an innocent individual or group is wrongfully accused). Jesus knows that the leaders of the Jewish people, the Pharisees and the chief priests, want him dead and that they try to justify his death with certain lies. They […]

Letter to a Non-Christian Nation

Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper published an op-ed by Orban in which he claimed that he was defending European Christianity against a Muslim influx by stopping thousands of refugees from leaving Hungary. […] “We shouldn’t forget that the people who are coming here grew up in a different religion and represent a completely different culture. Most […]

Each Its Culture Until the Refugee Threat

Modern democracy makes it possible for each individual citizen to hold, express and exercise ‘own’ opinions and ethical principles, ‘own’ religious views and ‘own’ cultural preferences as long as they do not go against the democratically established laws of a particular state. A society of such individuals should, by its very nature, become ‘multicultural’ and […]

Jesus Christ, Narcissist?

1. NARCISSIST OR REALIST? Bob doesn’t care about what other people might say or think of him. He knows that he can sing, even when the different juries of The Voice, Idol, X Factor and America’s Got Talent claim that his qualities lie elsewhere. Bob’s stubborn belief in himself would be admirable if it wasn’t […]

De Narcist

1. NARCIST OF REALIST? Bob ligt niet wakker van wat andere mensen over hem zeggen of denken. Hij weet dat hij kan zingen, ook al beweren de jury’s van The Voice, Idool, X Factor en Belgium’s Got Talent dat zijn kwaliteiten elders liggen. Het hardnekkige geloof van Bob in zichzelf zou bewonderenswaardig zijn als het […]

Pleasantville and Biblical Feminism

Once again, this post is a translation from a chapter in my book Vrouwen, Jezus en rock-‘n-roll – Met René Girard naar een dialoog tussen het christelijk verhaal en de populaire cultuur (Women, Jesus and rock-‘n-roll. Taking René Girard to a dialogue between the Christian story and popular culture). Pleasantville (Gary Ross, 1998) is a movie […]

A Midsummer Night’s Mimetic Desire

René Girard devotes six chapters to A Midsummer Night’s Dream in A Theater of Envy, his book on William Shakespeare (for references I use the edition of St. Augustine’s Press, South Bend, Indiana, 2004 – originally this title was edited by Oxford University Press, 1991). I’ve tried to rework some of Girard’s insights by using the […]

Het fascisme* van antireligieuze utopisten

[Deze post is een vertaling en herwerking van een vorige post, met name The Fascism of Anti-religious Utopians; ze kadert in de discussie over het vak LEF – klik hier voor meer artikels op de Thomas-website van de KU Leuven]. “Niemand wordt homoseksueel geboren. Homoseksualiteit is een pervertering van de menselijke natuur. Vandaag zijn er […]

The Fascism of Anti-religious Utopians

[KLIK HIER VOOR NEDERLANDSTALIGE VERSIE] 1.Right and Left united against “evil religion”, the common scapegoat enemy “The Qur’an is a licence to kill.” These words come from Filip Dewinter, one of the leading members of far-right political party Vlaams Belang, who spoke during a session of Belgium’s federal parliament (January 22, 2015). Dewinter sounds a […]

Mythical Thinking after 9/11

René Girard is among those scholars who like to point to the similarities between myths from around the globe. In this regard his work follows in the footsteps of people like James Frazer, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade. Girard’s explanation of the source of mythological structures and motives, however, is quite different from […]

Als het geweld zegeviert…

… is God dood? … is de Mens dood? De religieuze fanaticus die terroristische daden pleegt, verschuilt zich achter “god”. De atheïst zal hem vertellen dat die “god” niet bestaat. De atheïstische analyse van religieus gemotiveerd geweld leidt tot de onvermijdelijke conclusie dat niet “god” het probleem is – dat wezen bestaat dan immers niet […]

Christmas Concert (by Incensum)

On December 14, 2014, Incensum, the vocal ensemble I am part of, performed a concert (in Aalst, Kerk OLV van Bijstand) for the occasion of Advent and Christmas, together with a choir from South Africa – Bergrivierkoor. We’ve recorded this concert and you can hear Incensum sing its parts by clicking the film below [or […]

The Two Cocks (J. de La Fontaine)

Benoît Chantre, co-author of René Girard’s Achever Clausewitz (Battling to the End), made a reference to the fable of Les Deux Coqs (The Two Cocks) by Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695) at a conference in Paris. René Girard gave a lecture at the Centre Pompidou (March 30, 2005) a good week after he became one of the “immortals” of […]

Satanic Arab Spring Circle?

It seems that, in order to understand international politics today (or maybe “as always”?), we need to understand what is happening in the Middle East. Well, at least we’ll get a major part of “the bigger picture” from our attempts to come to terms with the contagion of violence in that region. French American philosopher […]

Ukuthula (Peace)

A while ago (May 2, 2014) Incensum, a vocal ensemble I am part of, sang some songs for the occasion of a newly restored chapel – the Sint-Theresiakapel in Middelkerke. The reopening of this art deco building was done by Flemish Minister Geert Bourgeois and Jozef De Kesel, Bishop of Bruges. It was first built […]

C.S. Lewis Account of Mimetic Desire

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), a former atheist who converted to Christianity, became well-known for his series of seven fantasy novels The Chronicles of Narnia, but the fame of this series sometimes overshadows other work by this fascinating author. And that’s a shame because, up to this day, Lewis remains a surprisingly fresh Christian thinker. In Mere […]

Finish… The Social Sciences?

It is often said that René Girard is like “the Einstein or Darwin of the social sciences or the humanities”. According to Girard, however, the social sciences as such as they came to flourish in the West’s modern age, and his own contributions are only possible because of a “superior” knowledge revealed in Judeo-Christian tradition. […]

René Girard on Apostrophes

There was a time when a literary talk show could attract around 6 million regular viewers on a weekly basis. Apostrophes was one such prime-time show on French television, every Friday night (on the channel France 2 or “Antenne 2”). It was born out of the daring mind of Bernard Pivot, who also hosted the […]

The Grace of Prostitutes

“… the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” [translated from a part in my book Vrouwen, Jezus en rock-‘n-roll] What a disturbing figure. Jesus openly declares that tax collectors and prostitutes – quintessential sinners – are entering the kingdom of God ahead of the chief priests and the elders of the […]

La Mode(rnity)

Last year, after meeting my friends from The Raven Foundation in Chicago, I had the opportunity to visit the exhibition Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity at The Art Institute of Chicago. As the exhibition points out, the modern fashion industry was born in Paris in the second half of the nineteenth century. Since then, fashion – la […]

Eminem Reads The Bible

This post follows a thread on suggestions for the development of a high school curriculum on Mimetic Theory. Click the following titles to see what else I’ve done on this so far (be sure to check out the pdf-files!): Mimetic Theory in High School (click to read) Types of the Scapegoat Mechanism (click to read) […]

Mimetic World Wars

MAY 20th, 1910 – The royal and political heads of Europe are (still peacefully) gathered for the funeral of Edward VII, king of Great Britain and Ireland, of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, and Emperor of India. Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, is also present at the funeral of his uncle. Once again, Wilhelm […]

A Woman’s Uncanny Valley

1. MIMETIC THEORY ON “THE UNCANNY VALLEY” Originally I just wanted to write a post on the uncanny valley, a phenomenon first described by Masahiro Mori (former robotics professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology) in an essay for Japanese magazine Energy (vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 33–35, 1970) – READ THE ARTICLE ON THE […]

René Girard 1985

In 1985, René Girard received his first honorary doctorate at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. More followed at various universities throughout the world. In December 2006, he was installed as a member immortel of the Académie Française, the highest honor a French intellectual can achieve in his home country. A month after René Girard received his first honorary doctorate […]

Jesus Christ, Realist

OUR WORLD, A WORLD OF CHILD NEGLECT? Basically, there are three types of child neglect: Indifference (rarely if ever paying attention to a child) Denigration (paying attention in an all too negative way) Adoration (paying attention in an all too positive way) A child who grew up in an indifferent environment is prone to seek […]

A Mimesis of Nelson Mandela

Incensum, a vocal ensemble I am part of, was very honored and grateful to sing at a memorial service for Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013), organized by the Embassy of South Africa in Belgium, on 12 December 2013. The service was held at the Cathedral of Saint Michael and Saint […]

Confirmation Bias in Atheism

A most interesting article appeared in a special edition of EOS, a science magazine in Dutch. It was about the quest for the historical Jesus. For those familiar with the material it was not a very revealing article. Nonetheless, it provided a kind of summary, albeit sometimes in a tendentious manner (click here for a […]

Sacred Autonomy?

1. A VAIN QUEST FOR AUTONOMY It seems the more we become so-called autonomous individuals the more we become dependent on official rules and legislation. It’s one of the big paradoxes in today’s western society. We have to be sure that others respect our so-called freedom and therefore force them, by means of law, to […]

Pieta

Last year I took part in a conference organized by the Flemish Emmaüsforum. This forum is based in my hometown Aalst and I’m happy to be one of its members. The conference theme revolved around the way our identities and human self-understanding are shaped by “stories”. Hence the title of the conference, De Mens is […]

Girard on the Origin of Religion

Okay, this post eventually is about this documentary clip (from a previous post – click here for Monkey Business): Rest assured, I’m getting there, but I have to tell a little story first… Mary was watching a soap opera on a big screen TV in the living room. Her brother, Martin, came in and joined […]

Objections to Mimetic Theory?

From time to time I’m confronted with objections to mimetic theory that, looked at more closely, are based on some misconceptions. Here are some clarifications, hopefully. (For more on scientific research concerning imitation, click here: Mimesis and Science). 1. REGARDING MIMETIC DESIRE Already in 1961, publishing Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque, René Girard made the world […]

Atheism and Ethics

A WORLD WITHOUT RELIGION?  The question is whether an atheist world would be a better world. Slavoj Zizek, atheist philosopher, refers to René Girard’s analysis of Christianity in God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse and concludes that Christianity, revealing the innocence of erstwhile sacrificial victims, “[undermines] the efficiency of the entire sacrificial mechanism of scapegoating: […]

Science Matters

Michael Meuleman, one of my students, briefly talked about his passion for brain imaging and brain imaging technologies. It’s his dream to further work on speech reconstruction for disabled persons, using and developing brain imaging technology himself. Michael referred to famous physicist Stephen Hawking as one of many who could benefit from this research. As […]

Gueuze Girardin

On a lighter note: there must be a reason why I like this beer so much… True, I liked it before I became a “Girardian” :), but since I got to know René Girard’s work I like it even better! Apparently, Girard’s name functions as a mediator that increases my desire for this beer. It […]

To This Day

Shane Koyczan is a spiritual man. A man of poetry and gentle madness. A man of stories, a man of truth. A man of beauty. His poem To This Day would be a great way to end a first part of a journey with mimetic theory in high school, especially regarding what I’ve written so […]

Small World After All

Before I continue posting material and suggestions for a high school curriculum on mimetic theory, I just have to report something way cool that happened at school today. Jozefien Meersschaut, one of my students who is new to our school this year, came up to me before class and simply said, “You know, sir, my […]

Real Life Cases of Ressentiment

This post follows some previous posts in the development of a high school curriculum on Mimetic Theory: Mimetic Theory in High School (click to read) Types of the Scapegoat Mechanism (click to read) Scapegoating in American Beauty (click to read) Philosophy in American Beauty (click to read) This post will provide some real life cases […]

Philosophy in American Beauty

This post aims at providing some more background information on a previous post regarding the film American Beauty (click to read “Scapegoating in American Beauty”). It explores the philosophical foundations of ressentiment. In the world of philosophy there are two German names that automatically pop up regarding the discussion on ressentiment, namely Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) […]

Scapegoating in American Beauty

Scapegoat Mechanism – Type 3 (SMT3): ressentiment [see previous post “Types of the Scapegoat Mechanism”]   an example     THE CHARACTER OF COLONEL FRANK FITTS IN THE Movie american beauty (DIRECTOR: SAM MENDES)     Alan Ball, who wrote the story, said the following about the main theme of the movie: “I think I […]

Types of the Scapegoat Mechanism

Click here to read Mimetic Theory in High School. In this post I’d like to present three types of the scapegoat mechanism as it evolves out of mimetic interactions, in a formulaic way. The following weeks I’ll post examples of these types (rap song Stan by Eminem, the biblical story of Cain and Abel and […]

Mimetic Theory in High School

Some of us working on mimetic theory would like to develop some material that could be useful in high school curricula, in different disciplines. I’ll be posting some ideas and present some possible content in the months to come. This is how an introduction to a high school course on mimetic theory could look like. […]

Empathisch Brein/Empathic Brain

Dan wil je eens even niet bezig zijn met de onderwerpen van de mimetische theorie, stuurt Arno Couwenbergh – een kersverse oudleerling – dit artikel op uit Knack. Waarvoor dank :)! KLIK HIER OM HET INTERVIEW MET CHRISTIAN KEYSERS TE LEZEN (PDF) Wie nog meer wil weten over Het empathische brein kan hier terecht. To […]

Jealous of Lottery Winners

In times of financial and economic crisis people seem more susceptible to unrealistic promises of immediate wealth. Indeed, more people play the lottery, losing more money while desperately trying to get rich. Tragic. But even when people do win the lottery, chances of a happier and more fulfilling life are not guaranteed. This becomes clear […]

India, land van religies

KLIK HIER VOOR PPT ALS SLIDESHARE NIET WERKT Voor de inleefreis naar India van onze school (Sint-Jozefscollege, Aalst) maakte ik een powerpoint over hindoeïsme en boeddhisme. Daarbij heb ik de voornaamste verschillen trachten aan te duiden tussen ‘oosterse’ en ‘westerse’ levensbeschouwingen (hoewel het onderscheid natuurlijk moet worden genuanceerd omwille van wederzijdse beïnvloeding). Het gaat dan over denkwijzen die respectievelijk schatplichtig zijn aan een cyclische tijdsopvatting (bewaard in het Verre Oosten), en aan een lineaire tijdsopvatting (ontstaan in het Nabije Oosten, en verder ontwikkeld in de Abrahamitische godsdiensten).

Reyers Laat Reyers Love

In het tv-programma Reyers Laat van 2 mei 2013 werd speciale aandacht besteed aan… de Liefde. Als godsdienstleraar vind ik het interessant om te zien hoe een aantal inzichten die behoren tot de kern van het joods-christelijke denken ook aanwezig zijn in een seculiere context. Dat is niet zo verwonderlijk. Het gaat in de Bijbel, […]

Powerfully Vulnerable

I just had to share this amazing story! It is told by Adam Ericksen at the Raven Foundation website. Here it is, republished with kind permission: The Internet can be a very mean place. But it can also lead us to grace. The dichotomy of meanness and grace was recently displayed on the website reddit.com. […]

Why Did the Holocaust Happen?

In the inaugural René Girard Lecture, Timothy Snyder presents his latest research, placing the Holocaust in global perspective. “We have scarcely begun to comprehend the Holocaust,” he says. “This is not just an intellectual problem, but a deep danger if we wrongly assume that simply acknowledging the catastrophe is enough to prevent something similar from […]

René Girard = New Economic Thinking

From the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) comes this lecture on René Girard’s mimetic theory in relation to economics and ecology. Excellent panelists include Edward Fullbrook, Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Mark Anspach, Paul Dumouchel, and André Orléan (click the names of these people for more information on their work). Be inspired! CLICK TO WATCH:

Things I say… allegedly…

Well, Einstein isn’t the only one with quotes :). Through several years of teaching, I’ve developed some expressions myself. Of course, it’s only my attempt to transmit the ideas of others. Anyway, hope to make you think. Enjoy! about Jesus and Christianity Jesus is often called a leader whose words and deeds are too otherworldly […]

I don’t need God!!

“The public has a distorted view of science because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries.” Freeman John Dyson (born 1923). 1. THE INTRO Last week, one of my pupils said something […]

Atheism: A Lack of Unbelief?

A while ago I had a conversation with two atheist colleagues of mine at the school where I’m teaching religion. I asked them the following question: “Do you believe that things become valuable only if people accord them some value, and, on the other hand, that they no longer possess any value once people stop […]

Alain de Botton Goes René Girard

One of today’s more popular philosophers, Alain de Botton, could easily have dubbed his TED-talk “A short history of  human self-understanding in the West according to René Girard”, but settled for “A kinder, gentler philosophy of success” instead. I accidently saw this talk on Belgian television (Canvas) and immediately suspected Girard’s influence. As it turns […]

Dubbels en Demonen in Black Swan

Regisseur Darren Aronofsky schetst de manier waarop het verhaal voor zijn film Black Swan (2010) vorm kreeg in een interview met Dave Mestdach (Knack Focus, 5 september 2010, op het filmfestival van Venetië): “Eigenlijk ging het zo. Aangezien mijn zus vroeger danseres was, ben ik altijd in ballet geïnteresseerd geweest zonder daarom een kenner te […]

Religious Vows in New York

Before I got to know the Christian faith I always thought the three religious vows were an abomination. Why would anyone deliberately choose the masochistic way of a life in “poverty, chastity and obedience”? Only after I saw a documentary on the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in New York and only after I delved […]

Fairness Study (Frans de Waal)

An interesting and funny experiment is the now well-known fairness study by Dutch ethologist Frans de Waal and his colleagues. WATCH IT HERE: It once again confirms some basic intuitions of mimetic theory. Frans de Waal seems to treat the tendency to be competitive and aggressive on the one hand, and the tendency to be […]

W.F. Hermans & René Girard

Graag verwijs ik naar een boeiend initiatief van de Nederlandse Girard Studiekring (Dutch Girard Society): een lesbrief over De donkere kamer van Damokles van W.F. Hermans, naar aanleiding van het evenement Nederland Leest. KLIK HIER OM DE BRIEF TE LEZEN (PDF). De brief is gebaseerd op een proefschrift van Sonja Pos. Over haar benadering van […]

Queen Bees

Wie vertrouwd is met het werk van René Girard en in het Vlaamse onderwijs actief is, zal zeker opgekeken hebben van een artikel in het tijdschrift Klasse van december 2012. De titel van het artikel luidt (klik op de titel om het te lezen): Queen bee zaait terreur – Meisjesvenijn: een subtiel machtsspel. Uit het […]

(Theïstisch?) Sermoentje

Naar aanleiding van een gesprek over ‘de kerk’ in het tv-programma Reyers Laat (van 13 november 2012), en een column daarover van Patrick De Witte in De Morgen (16 november 2012), richt ik deze brief aan alle atheïsten van goede wil. In het bijzonder richt ik dit ‘sermoen’ aan Patrick De Witte, Patrick Loobuyck, Johan Braeckman, Anne Provoost, Nic Balthazar en Etienne Vermeersch. Jullie geëxpliciteerde ideeën over religie, en meer bepaald over […]

Tim Ribberink, zondebok

Het aloude verhaal. Van individuen die elkanders pestgedrag imiteren, en die zich op die manier verenigen rond een willekeurig slachtoffer. Een slachtoffer van wie zij echter beweren dat het dat pestgedrag “zelf uitlokt”. Een slachtoffer dat, met andere woorden, ten onrechte verantwoordelijkheid wordt toegedicht voor wat het overkomt. Een zondebok dus. We zijn er als […]

between zero and hero: mere men

“As you get older you will learn that loyalty is a virtue too important to be lavished on individual personalities.” (From That Hideous Strength, by C.S. Lewis). When I was a child, back in the eighties, my friends and I used to play this hero or superman game. We would identify with some action figure […]

That is (not) the question…

THE QUESTION IS NOT JUST: TO BE OR NOT TO BE? THE QUESTION IS: WHO/HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE? French rap star Diam’s (born Mélanie Georgiades) shed some light on her conversion to Islam, after a few years of silence. Only 32 years old, she recently published a revealing autobiography, explaining the matter. While […]

Ignatius ignites… or does he?

A day off from school for our pupils… And we, teachers at a Jesuit high school (Sint-Jozefscollege, Aalst, Belgium), took time off to reflect on today’s challenges in education. Not surprisingly in our case, the legacy of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) continues to provide the guiding principles to make this reflection possible. The core […]

Temptresses

FEMME DE LA RUE Sofie Peeters made quite an impression when she launched her student film Femme de la Rue. Not only in her native country Belgium, but also across the borders. Her autobiographical, short documentary film addresses a certain kind of sexism in the streets of Brussels. Peeters is seen walking around the neighborhood that […]

“War is a stupid game” (Hobbes)

Cartoonist Bill Waterson is spot-on regarding the destructive mimetic dynamics of war with this cartoon of Calvin and Hobbes. It succinctly evokes what Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) called “the escalation to extremes”. How to avoid bellum omnium contra omnes (the war of all against all), as Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) phrased it? Let’s begin by taking a […]

Will Smith’s Fresh Philosophy

“I hate all this philosophical mumbo-jumbo! It just doesn’t make any sense!” I’ve experienced reactions like these from my students quite often while trying to teach them some philosophy. They express the normal frustration people get when they just don’t seem to succeed in mastering the issues they’re facing. To be honest, I more than […]

Who’s the Victim?

The common view in Antiquity on people who fell victim to sickness, suffering and “bad fortune” was that “they had it coming” because of certain transgressions they (or their ancestors) committed against the sacred order of things. In other words, because of sin. It is clear, for instance, that Job’s friends and relatives follow this […]

Turn the other cheek

Once there was this girl, having the time of her life in a happy relationship. Until her boyfriend cheated on her. After that, she couldn’t go on with him. So they broke up. A year later, she met this other guy. Love at first sight. They started dating. A few months down the road of […]

Chris Rock rocks mimetically

I found this on YouTube: a short clip from American comedian Chris Rock, with a reference to mimetic rivalry. Indeed it is a funny example. CLICK TO WATCH:

Empire of the Watchmen

[on two types of “rewards” – goals or consequences of one’s actions? – and the implications for human interactions] “If there is no God, everything is permitted…” This is basically the challenging idea of Ivan Karamazov, one of the main characters in The Brothers Karamazov, the famous novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881). Could this be […]

Mere Christianity

Some thoughts inspired by C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and mimetic theory Who is this man who forgives sins? Is he entitled to forgive a woman accused of adultery? Shouldn’t this be up to the husband of this woman? Who has been hurt by the adultery? The husband, sure, but also Love itself… This man, Jesus […]

Questions for Stephen Hawking

In 2010, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking made a statement in his book The Grand Design (co-written by Leonard Mlodinow), which raised quite a few eyebrows: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the […]

On the (Biblical?) Road

[For more, check out a previous post – click: Religulous Atheism] The books of the bible have left an indelible mark on humanity’s cultural idiom, moreover because they are themselves already important, somewhat reinterpreted, summaries of different ancient strands. Throughout the ages, storytellers, novelists, directors, painters, sculptors, architects and musicians have consciously and unconsciously transmitted […]

Foolish Monkeys

One of my pupils sent me the following cartoon. It’s indeed quite a fun way of summarizing some basic intuitions of mimetic theory. Some sort of scapegoating is transmitted, mimetically, ritualistically even, since one monkey became guilty by association – in illo tempore… CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE: Although this cartoon shouldn’t have any scientific pretensions, it seems nevertheless […]

Stations of the Cross

Leonard Cohen’s song Show Me The Place, a meditation on Christ’s willingness to surrender to Compassion and to suffer because of that surrender (and NOT because of a so-called necessity of suffering itself), inspired me to make a new Via Crucis – I also made one last year, click here to watch it. Whatever some people might think […]

The End of Religion?

THE RELIGION OF THE END OF RELIGION The contemporary French atheist historian Marcel Gauchet proposed the idea that Christianity is “the religion of the end of religion” in his book The Disenchantment of the World: A Political History of Religion (original French title: Le Désenchantement du monde. Une histoire politique de la religion, Gallimard, Paris, 1985). […]

Children See, Children Do

A ‘commercial’ by the Australian organisation NAPCAN (National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) somewhat ironically, yet effectively, appeals to our empathic abilities. We are each other’s role models. Nuff said. CLICK TO WATCH:

Asch Experiment / Bystander Effect

In the 1950s, psychologist Solomon Asch (1907-1996) published a series of studies that demonstrated the power of conformity in groups. His findings come as no surprise, since we, as human beings, have the natural tendency to imitate others… don’t we ;)? Because of this tendency we desire social recognition, and easily adapt ourselves to what […]

Mimesis and Science

A book that brings together some of the world’s leading scientists and philosophers who are investigating the enormous role of imitation in human life? It seems like a dream come true for me. Scott R. Garrels edited Mimesis and Science – Empirical Research on Imitation and the Mimetic Theory of Culture and Religion (Studies in […]

Mirror Test

I came across a recording of an interview with Julian Paul Keenan, one of biopsychologist Gordon Gallup’s better known students. Keenan explains his mentor’s famous mirror test. I combined his explanation with scenes from The Human Ape, a documentary by National Geographic. CLICK TO WATCH: What this test demonstrates concerning the questions of self-awareness, consciousness and what […]

Evil twin in the mirror

Even to this day human culture is drenched with archetypal images of magic mirrors and evil twins. It is clear that both mirrors and twins traditionally evoke mysterium tremendum et fascinans – the common object of all religious or numinous experience as described by Rudolf Otto (1869-1937). We could ask ourselves why such phenomena are often surrounded […]

In de krant gelezen: ‘t is crisis

Crisis: le mot du jour in onze kranten. Een dag na de aangekondigde algemene staking in België blijft dit woord in onze huidige context zijn eerder negatieve connotatie behouden. Het duidt een periode van verval aan waarin maatregelen moeten getroffen worden om erger te voorkomen; waarin specialisten moeten ‘oordelen’ om daadkrachtige beslissingen te kunnen nemen (het Griekse werkwoord waarvan ‘crisis’ is […]

Mimetisch denker leest krant

OVER DE ACTUELE RELEVANTIE VAN DE MIMETISCHE THEORIE [NOTE: SOME REFERENCES ARE IN ENGLISH] Vorige week dinsdag, 17 januari 2012, las ik in de Vlaamse krant De Standaard een artikel over de escalerende rivaliteit tussen twee motorbendes – de beruchte Hells Angels, en hun geduchte tegenhangers, de Outlaws. Wie vertrouwd is met de mimetische theorie […]

Doodstraf? (Werner Herzog)

Spelen mimetische (d.i. imitatieve) processen tussen mensen wel de fundamentele rol die René Girard en anderen ze toedichten? Het is een vraag waarmee ik regelmatig word geconfronteerd. Wetenschappelijk onderzoek, onder andere naar de in 1996 ontdekte spiegelneuronen, geeft steeds meer bevestigende antwoorden. In wat volgt, probeer ik aan te geven hoe de mimetische theorie een […]

Rond de Crisis

Eind november 2011 werd in Amsterdam een boek voorgesteld naar aanleiding van het dertigjarig bestaan van de Nederlandse Girard Studiekring, waarvoor ik een bijdrage mocht leveren. Het boek kreeg als titel Rond de Crisis – Reflecties vanuit de Girard Studiekring, en werd geredigeerd door Michael Elias en André Lascaris (Uitgeverij Parthenon, Almere, 2011). Een inleiding van […]

Mimetic Mr Bean

It’s all there in this classic piece of British humour – all the basic elements of René Girard’s mimetic theory: mimetic desire, mimetic competition or rivalry and the haunting nightmare of the mimetic double. Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean really is the master of ceremonies here. Enjoy this clever excerpt from Mr Bean in Room 426 (first broadcast 17th […]

Christmas Tree of Life

The Tree of Life. A film by Terrence Malick. A masterpiece. A poetic meditation on Grace. I compiled some scenes from the film to accompany a song by Dan Reed Network, Color this hour (only available as a live version). It’s my Christmas meditation this year. Celebrating Christmas, we really welcome the miracle of Love […]

On blaming the Church for AIDS

“It seems profoundly damaging to the dignity of the human being, and for this reason morally illicit, to support a prevention of AIDS that is based on a recourse to means and remedies that violate an authentically human sense of sexuality, and which are a palliative to the deeper suffering which involve the responsibility of […]

god voor dommen?

Enkele weken geleden hoor ik het heuglijke nieuws dat een nieuw boek verschijnt van Anton de Wit: Van klokken en klepels. Een katholiek antwoord op kerkelijke controverses (Lannoo, Tielt, 2011). Nieuwsgierig en op zoek naar meer informatie google ik de naam van Anton. Louter toevallig stoot ik daardoor op een artikel uit 2009, getiteld Want […]

Celebration for Peace (9/11 – 2011)

September 11, 2002. The Schola Cantorum Cantate Domino boys’ and men’s choir (from Sint-Maarteninstituut, Aalst, Belgium) and its conductor Rev. Michaël Ghijs participate in an event called The Rolling Requiem, a worldwide choral commemoration of all those lost and all those who helped others on September 11th, 2001. The event means that Mozart’s Requiem is performed throughout the world, […]

Celebrating surrealism, a-ha pops up

As a kid, René Magritte used to play at an abandoned cemetery, together with a little girl. He saw a painter there, who seemed to him to possess magical powers… (thanks to Marcel Paquet’s Taschen book, for this and the following information on Magritte). Of course, later on, Magritte (1898-1967) became a painter himself, and an intriguing one. The […]

Big Brother is watching you

BIG SCANDAL! My usually sedate hometown was startled last week by the discovery of a ‘celebrity sex tape’: our female mayor allegedly had been secretly videotaped by some Polish tourists during a vacation in Spain four years ago. She was caught having sex with her then boyfriend, in a public area, more specifically on a […]

Religulous Atheism

“You’d think if you were one of Christ’s biographers, [the virgin birth] would be sort of an important thing not to leave out. Oh, God, he was also born of a virgin. They don’t notice the virgin birth. You know, I think that is something if you were any sort of reporter you’d put into […]

Maria at WYD 2011

In 2005 I had the chance to visit World Youth Day (WYD) in Cologne, Germany, as a participant and mentor of the Jesuit Magis program. It was an enriching experience, to say the least. I met some good souls there… Today, August 15th 2011, the youth from all over the world is once again invited to […]

Kierkegaard or C.C. DeVille?

Christ comes to the world as the example, constantly enjoining: Imitate me. We humans prefer to adore him instead. – Quote by Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). To adore Christ means, in the sense that Kierkegaard uses the verb, to idolize him. When you idolize someone else, it often means that you secretly want to become this other person, […]

Otello’s (Des)demon(a)

My summer holiday started with a blast. Some of my friends are real opera connoisseurs and they invited me and my wife to experience Otello, a true operatic masterpiece of the Romantic era, composed by the great Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). The libretto was provided by poet and musician Arrigo Boito (1842-1918), the play itself […]

Vacature van Stef Bos

Voor haar 85-jarig bestaan vroeg de Nederlandse Christelijke Radio Vereniging (NCRV) Stef Bos een cd over Bijbelse figuren te schrijven. Dat leidde tot het krachtige album ‘In een ander licht’ dat alle Bijbelse toonaarden laat weerklinken: van de lofzang op de liefde, over het profetische verzet, tot de klaagzang tegen het lijden en de schreeuw om hoop. (Uit het weekblad Tertio, 16 december 2009). Het oudtestamentische boek Prediker, een wijsheidsboek, dient als uitgangspunt voor Alles is lucht (lied van Prediker). Zelf heb ik de tekst van […]

Hip Hop Mysticism

INTRODUCTION Three years ago, in 2008, I lost a very dear friend who was also my mentor: Rev. Michaël Ghijs, a priest and conductor of Schola Cantorum Cantate Domino, the choir I have been a member of for nearly 20 years. I remember going through all kinds of different emotions while preparing and rehearsing songs for the funeral. One state of mind […]

Pentecost

We celebrate Pentecost. It’s a celebration of community. Of Spirit. The ‘Holy Spirit’. When we look at the history of humanity, we’re all too often confronted with a history of violence, bloodshed, sacrifice, disease, disaster and despair. Yet it’s there, in the midst of all the ‘mud’ and the ‘dirt’, that the transformational Spirit of […]

Religulous in Barcelona

I’ve put the word ‘religulous’ in this post’s title after a documentary, or should I say ‘mockumentary’ of the same name by director Larry Charles. In it, Bill Maher goes around the US primarily to investigate certain people’s religious beliefs and comes to the conclusion these beliefs are ‘ridiculous’ – hence the title: Religulous. Bill Maher is […]

Dance and Drill

I just finished reading the thought-provoking little book Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History, by William H. McNeill. The author experienced the effects of drill exercise and marching together himself during military training in September 1941: “Marching aimlessly about on the drill field, swaggering in conformity with prescribed military postures, conscious […]

Laatste Oordeel

Klik om het artikel te lezen: OVER OORDELEN EN LAATSTE OORDELEN BIJ DE DOOD VAN EEN MOEGETERGDE JONGEN (PDF) Al te vaak berichten de media over verregaand en ontoelaatbaar pestgedrag in onze samenleving. Ik vind het dan ook belangrijk dat zeker het pedagogische veld blijvend aandacht schenkt aan dit fenomeen en het ook aanklaagt. Voor het maandblad van onze school (Sint-Jozefscollege, Aalst) schreef ik onlangs een artikel over pesten waarin ik tracht te achterhalen welke visie op mens, samenleving en – soms ook – god ten grondslag ligt aan deze eeuwenoude, schijnbaar onuitroeibare menselijke kwaal. Tegelijk stel ik […]

Shakespeare Musta Loved Seinfeld

In the book Evolution and Conversion – Dialogues on the Origins of Culture (Continuum, London, New York, 2007), René Girard talks about popular culture and discusses the power of mass media. His approach is very nuanced, as he distinguishes between positive and negative aspects of these phenomena. He even dares to compare television series Seinfeld to the […]

Scarcity: scapegoat after Bin Laden?

There’s a remarkable analogy between political, dictatorial regimes that uphold themselves by using violence against dissident voices, and economic behavior that is based on the idea of scarcity. Both social phenomena are tragic in the sense that they accomplish exactly what they are trying to avoid. Paul Dumouchel and Jean-Pierre Dupuy offered an analysis of […]

Monkey Business

Just recently I stumbled upon quite a fun BBC documentary about monkeys. Fragments can be watched below. Of particular interest to anyone who’s concerned with mimetic theory are the following observations, eminently shown in the documentary: Besides getting smarter, monkeys living in larger groups also become more competitive, even aggressive and violent. From the point […]

Watchmen Revisited

A new version of my article on the graphic novel Watchmen appeared at the site of the Dutch Girard Society (Girard Studiekring), this time with notes and yes, even images (see ‘online teksten’). TO READ, CLICK HERE. Enjoy!

The Church of David LaChapelle

Let me start off with a short introduction to the spiritual life of David LaChapelle – click to watch the following interview (online version October 15, 2008) – CLICK TO WATCH: A lot of Christians might feel shocked when they first encounter the work of David LaChapelle. A renowned photographer and film-maker, LaChapelle is equally […]

Paasboodschap in tijden van schaamte

De afgelopen dagen ben ik bezig geweest met de herformulering en herordening van een aantal ideeën uit mijn boek Vrouwen, Jezus en rock-‘n-roll – Met René Girard naar een dialoog tussen het christelijk verhaal en de populaire cultuur. Ik wou mij, in de aanloop naar Pasen, opnieuw bezinnen over het zogenaamde ‘verrijzenisgebeuren’. Uiteindelijk heb ik volgend artikel gebrouwen – wie geïnteresseerd is, kan het hier lezen: KLIK OM TE LEZEN: HET VERRIJZENISGEBEUREN, VANUIT DE MIMETISCHE THEORIE (PDF) Ik heb geen voetnoten toegevoegd, maar geoefende lezers zullen echo’s vinden van filosofen als Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) en Max Scheler (1874-1928) […]

Visiting William Blake’s Visions

William Blake (1757 – 1827) is one of the most intriguing artists ever to have walked the face of this earth. An English poet and painter, he conceived his own mythology, rich in symbolism and meaning, based on a thorough knowledge of Classical Antiquity and the Biblical traditions. I first became attracted to his work by reading […]

Via Crucis

Last year I made a video for our school, allowing pupils as well as colleagues to contemplate the Stations of the Cross. Originally this video used Dutch translations of the biblical texts, but for this blog I replaced them by English ones, so the video can be understood by a wider audience. My interpretation of […]

Bruce Springsteen’s Passion

Bruce Springsteen‘s take on the story of Christ’s Passion certainly reflects a profound spiritual awareness of what this event is actually about. In an episode for VH1 Storytellers, Springsteen meditates on his song Jesus was an only son, and brings out the universal and existential truths the story of the Passion reveals. CLICK TO WATCH it right here: […]

Leerlingen en hun stille revolte

(LEES HET BIJGEVOEGDE ARTIKEL – klik op Kanttekeningen bij een ideologisch atheïsme) Gisteren, dinsdag 29 maart A.D. 2011, mocht ik als godsdienstleraar deelgenoot zijn van een deugddoend, inspirerend en hoopgevend gebeuren. Sinds kort komen enkele leerlingen van onze school, uit het laatste jaar van de humaniora, om de twee weken samen om van gedachten te wisselen over een vooraf gelezen, korte filosofische tekst. We bespraken, gisteren op onze tweede bijeenkomst in het licht van een eerste lentezon en op het nog bedauwde gras in het stadspark van Aalst, een tekst van de Duitse filosoof Max Scheler (1874-1928). Grote denkers laten steeds een glimp zien van […]

Bono (U2) and The Imitation of Christ

René Girard’s mimetic theory is heir to a long and widespread Christian tradition of meditating on imitation, more specifically on the imitation of Christ. This tradition is such an essential part of the Christian ‘DNA’, that Christians throughout the ages have dwelled upon it. Not surprisingly then, the wisdom of a famous Medieval Catholic monk […]

Love Your Neighbour

In 1952, Scottish-born Canadian film director and animator Norman McLaren (1914-1987) released his hugely acclaimed short film Neighbours. It won both a Canadian Film Award and an Academy Award, and has been designated as a ‘masterwork’ by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada. Moreover, in 2009, the film was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World […]

Yahweh

I found this video on youtube. It was made by ylbob – thank you for sharing this! – and shows text and images to the song Yahweh of U2. A great prayer before bedtime. “Sleep tight. Don’t fear. Love.”

Seduced in Hollywood

Last summer, my wife and I traveled the US West Coast. In Los Angeles, strolling down Hollywood Boulevard, right there ‘in the belly of the beast’, we stumbled upon a young lady offering us… a free prayer. It was a temptation we couldn’t resist. Prayers are possible, anytime, anywhere, for free indeed. You can run out […]

Desert Moments with Peter Howson

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” (Thomas Merton, 1915-1968; from No Man Is an Island). This quote reminded me of a painting by Peter Howson, who converted to Christianity around the year 2000 after battling his alcohol and drug addictions. Christ in the Desert depicts Jesus as he struggles […]

Beautiful Japan

The Old Testament books of Kings tell the story of the prophet Elijah. At a certain moment, while being haunted by his enemies, Elijah finds himself to be totally disillusioned. He even longs to die. Then the angel of the Lord encourages him, and after a final meal, he sets off on a journey that […]

An Introduction to Mimetic Theory

SCROLL DOWN FOR RECENT POSTS AND VIDEOS MIMETIC THEORY (RENÉ GIRARD) – FIVE-PART VIDEO SERIES (11 VIDEOS) The following five-part video series provides a preliminary understanding of human culture from the perspective of mimetic theory, which was first developed by René Girard (1923-2015). I made the first parts to give an overview of some basic […]

The Dictator, by Dan Reed

“We want to live by each other’s happiness — not by each other’s misery. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. More than machinery we need humanity. You are not machines! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your heart. You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate… In […]

Carnival

Carnival as a ‘scapegoat ritual’? This feast has the features, for sure… I chose music of Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) – from Le Carnaval des Animaux -, and Krzysztof Penderecki (°1933) – from Passio Et Mors Domini Nostri Jesu Christi – Secundum Lucam – to accompany the images. Watch the video:

Doubting Thomas

Doubting Thomas (in Dutch: ‘Ongelovige Thomas’), a painting by Mark Tansey, captures the experience of doubt we are all part of, once in a while. This experience is shared in a magnificent way in the well-known story of the apostle Thomas (John 20), who could only have faith in the risen Jesus after seeing him and touching […]

Vrouwen, Jezus en rock-‘n-roll

In het boek Vrouwen, Jezus en rock-‘n-roll – Met René Girard naar een dialoog tussen het christelijk verhaal en de populaire cultuur  (cover – pdf) is de mimetische theorie van René Girard een dankbaar referentiekader om de relevantie van het christelijk verhaal voor de populaire cultuur te schetsen aan de hand van een aantal concrete voorbeelden (gaande van Stan, een wereldhit van rapper Eminem, over andere meer en minder bekende songs – bijvoorbeeld American Life van Madonna, The Unforgiven van Metallica en When you […]