Saturday 6 August 2016

So what's changed?

Now Girard is aware of the point of the story told by the Montreal émigré psychiatrist convert to Christianity, Karl Stern, about the Hassidic rabbi who looked out the window and said, "So what's changed?" In Things Hidden from the Foundation of  the World, Girard recognizes how the slow absorption of the Gospel in history is accompanied by a build up of the panorama of displacement, distortion, and evil, which seems to be mounting to a crux, a crisis. Girard describes this situation as apocalyptic. He insists that the apocalyptic expectations of Second Temple Judaism in first-century Palestine are fulfilled, but not in the catastrophic, mimetic fashion of finally settling the score by vengeance. Jesus's action of suffering the effects of human evil in history and offering unconditional forgiveness to the perpetrators goes completely against the grain of mimetic ways of confronting evil. (Frederick G. Lawrence, “Philosophy, History, and Apocalypse in Voegelin, Strauss, and Girard,” Politics and Apocalypse, Studies in Violence, Mimesis, and Culture, ed. Robert Hamerton-Kelly (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2007) 125.
"So what's changed?" A fundamental question for every christian, religious, priest, educator. What difference does That Man (which is how, if I go by Amos Oz, contemporary Jewish Israelis refer to Jesus) make?

The danger of imposing modern cultural categories - "individual" - on the faith. The privatization of the faith.

Fred Lawrence repeats the answer again and again, but see also Rossi de Gasperis for another - though very much related - stupendous answer.

All Salesians - all of us - give an answer to this question in different ways. Those who do so explicitly are perhaps few. Those who do so in a "lived" (vécu) way might answer it positively or negatively - I might be living, in other words, as if "nothing has changed" - or else my life bears witness that something has, indeed, changed.

So: what difference does Jesus make? what's changed? and what difference does he make to me? 

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