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Photo by Flavio Gasperini on Unsplash

By Paul Krause, Crisis Magazine, September 21, 2020

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Humans are mimetic creatures: we learn by images and imitation. This is nothing new. Aristotle identified it, Saint Thomas Aquinas built from it, and René Girard pioneered his grand theory of violence and the sacred from it. As Christianity declines, the human impulse for transcendence and the yearning for unity, solidarity, and community remain, but we are now seeing a full-throated return of thyia in all its (un)holy horror and terror.

In his magnum opusViolence and the Sacred, René Girard undertook a breathtaking analysis of human nature, religion, politics, and psychology. As do most scholars both secular and religious, Giraud argued that religion is one of the primary vehicles for communal and political unity.  …