I have recently found an English tranlsation of a 2004 review of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ by Rene Girard. His thought on the myth religions vs. Christianity seems to speak to the truth of the theology of the cross. A theological of the cross sees a thing for what it is.
The full text (in English) is here.
Here is a significant excerpt:
Almost all religions are, I believe, rooted in collective violence analogous to that which is described or suggested not only in the Gospels and the book of Job, but also in the songs of the Suffering Servant in second Isaiah, as well as in many Psalms. Pious Christians and Jews have wrongly refused to reflect on these resemblances between their sacred books and myths. An attentive comparison reveals that beyond these resemblances, but also because of them, we can observe a difference, at once subtle and gigantic, between the mythical on one side, and the Judaic and the Christian on the other, which makes the Judaeo-Christian incomparable with respect to the most objective truth. Unlike the myths that systematically adopt the point of view of the crowd against the victim, because they are conceived and told by the lynchers, and thus they always see the victim as guilty (as in the incredible combination of parricide and incest that Oedipus is accused of, for example), our Scriptures, the great biblical and Christian texts, acquit the victims of the crowd, and this is exactly what the Gospels do in the case of Jesus. This is what Mel Gibson shows.
Whereas myths incessantly repeat the murderous delusions of crowds of persecution (which are always analogous to those of the Passion), because this illusion satisfies the community and furnishes an idol around which it can come together, the greatest biblical texts, culminating in the Gospels, reveal the essentially deceptive and criminal character of crowd phenomena, on which the mythologies of the world are based.
In my view, there are two principal attitudes in human history: there is the mythological, which tries to dissimulate violence, because in the final analysis, it is on unjust violence that human communities are founded. This is what we all do when we give in to our instincts. We try to cover the nudity of human violence with Noah’s cloak. And we turn away if necessary, in order not to expose ourselves to the contagious force of violence by looking at it too closely.
This attitude is too universal to be condemned. This is in fact the attitude of the greatest Greek philosophers, in particular Plato, who condemns Homer and all the poets because they take the liberty of describing in their works the violence that the myths attribute to the gods of the city. The great philosopher sees in this brazen revelation a source of disorder, a great danger for the entire society.
This is certainly the religious attitude that is the most widely shared, the most normal, the most natural to man. And today it is more universal than ever, for modernized believers, Christians as well as Jews, have at least partially adopted it.
The other attitude is much rarer; it is even unique. It is found only in the great moments of biblical and Christian inspiration. It consists not in chaste dissimulation but, on the contrary, in the revelation of violence in all its injustice and all its delusion, everywhere where it is possible to observe it. This is the attitude of the book of Job, and it is the attitude of the Gospels. It is the bolder of the two attitudes, and in my view, the greater. It is the attitude that has allowed us to discover the innocence of most of the victims that even the most religious people over the course of history have never ceased to persecute and kill. This is the common inspiration of Judaism and Christianity, and it is the key, one must hope, to their future reconciliation. It is about the heroic inclination to put the truth above even the social order. It is to this enterprise, it seems to me, that Mel Gibson’s film makes every effort to be faithful.
Translated by Robert DoranAlso: There is a fantastic recent article abour Girard's view that Europe is on the verge of a new Christian renaissance. Philosohies and ideologies are dead, he says. Relativism has failed. Only religion offers anything. Here's a quote:
"In my opinion, Christianity proposes a solution to these problems precisely because it demonstrates that the obstacles, the limits that individuals put on one another serve to avoid a certain type of conflicts."
The French academic continues: "If it was really understood that Jesus is the universal victim who came precisely to surmount these conflicts, the problem would be solved."
According to the anthropologist, "Christianity is a revelation of love" but also "a revelation of truth" because "in Christianity, truth and love coincide and are one and the same."
Click here to read all.