Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dr Who does theology

Watching last night's Dr Who I could not avoid thinking that the episode was in large part about the thinking of Rene Girard, in artcular his references to the scapegoat mechanism and the need for sacred unity at the expense of indivuals seen as troubling or threatening.

Interesting that in the episode it takes no time at all for sacred unity to be established against whatever person was being designated as the scapegoat.

What he is able to show (exhaustively) is the relationship between that distorted human desire and the foundational mechanism of what he calls surrogate victimage (more popularly called “The Scapegoat Mechanism”). That is to say, human desire, as we live it (and thus the formation from within of our ‘self’ and our consciousness) derives, as a cultural fact, from desire becoming distorted by rivalry, until there is a point where there is so much group violence that unanimity (and thus peace and the avoidance of the collapse of the group) can only be restored when, apparently mysteriously, all become fixated on someone who can be held responsible for the collapse of unity and order within the group and then expelled, permitting the establishment of a new social unity over against the expelled one.

That is to say, an act of collective fratricide against a victim is foundational to all human cultures, with its being absolutely vital for the cultures so founded that they believe in the culpability of the rejected one (or group), and continue to bolster up this belief by forging prohibitions, myths and rituals.

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