René Girard [was] a French philosopher and anthropologist whose brilliant career culminated in a position at Stanford University. Girard became fascinated with the fact that in modern times a “marginalized” person assumes a moral authority . . . Girard noted that a cavalcade of liberation movements—abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, animal rights, gay rights, women’s rights, minority rights, human rights—had gathered speed in the 20th century.
The trend mystified Girard because he found nothing comparable in his reading of ancient literature. Victors, not the marginalized, wrote history, and the myths from Babylon, Greece, and elsewhere celebrated strong heroes, not pitiable victims. In his further research, Girard traced the phenomenon back to the historical figure of Jesus. It struck Girard that Jesus’ story cuts against the grain of every heroic story from its time. Indeed, Jesus chose poverty and disgrace, spent his infancy as a refugee, lived in a minority race under a harsh regime, and died as a prisoner. From the very beginning Jesus took the side of the underdog: the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the “marginalized.” His crucifixion, Girard concluded, introduced a new plot to history: the victim becomes the hero by being a victim. To the consternation of his secular colleagues, Girard converted to Christianity.
When Jesus died as an innocent victim, it introduced what one of Girard’s disciples has called “the most sweeping historical revolution in the world, namely, the emergence of an empathy for victims.” Today the victim occupies the moral high ground everywhere in the Western world: consider how the media portray the plight of AIDS orphans in Africa or Tibetan refugees or uprooted Palestinians. Girard contends that Jesus’ life and death brought forth a new stream in history, one that undermines injustice. It may take centuries for that stream to erode a hard bank of oppression, as it did with slavery, but the stream of liberation flows on.
Sometimes Jesus followers join the stream, and sometimes they stand on the bank and watch. Yet over time the gospel works its liberating effect. (You can see the contrast clearly in societies that have experienced little Christian influence.) Women, minorities, the disabled, human rights activists—all these draw their moral force from the power of the gospel unleashed at the cross, when God took the side of the victim. In a great irony, the “politically correct” movement defending these rights often positions itself as an enemy of Christianity, when in fact the gospel has contributed the very underpinnings that make possible such a movement. And those who condemn the church for its episodes of violence, slavery, sexism, and racism do so by gospel principles.
What Good is God
“The most consequential life in human history was lived 21 centuries ago in the eastern portion of the Roman Empire by a person who never traveled 100 miles from his birthplace, never held public office, never write a book, and died… in his early 30s.”
“It was reserved for Christianity to present to the world an ideal character, which through all the changes of eighteen centuries has inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love; has shown itself capable of acting on all ages, nations, temperaments, and conditions; has been not only the highest pattern of virtue but the strongest incentive to its practice; and has exerted so deep an influence that it may be truly said that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists.”
–W. E. H. Lecky (1838-1903),
History of European Morals
Decline of Christianity is seriously hurting society
November 4, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Only a few years ago, the aggressive “New Atheist” movement was on the march, with rhetorical brawlers like Christopher Hitchens and renowned biologists like Richard Dawkins leading the charge against religion and the last vestiges of Christian faith in the West. Religion, Hitchens famously stated, “poisons everything,” and could only be considered, at best, humanity’s “first and worst” attempt to solve existential questions. If these cobwebbed superstitions could be blasted away by the refreshing winds of reason and the Enlightenment, a fundamentally better society would rise from the ashes—or so the thinking went.
But as Christianity fades further and further into our civilization’s rear-view mirror, many intelligent atheists are beginning to realize that the Enlightenment may have only achieved success because it wielded influence on a Christian culture. In a truly secular society, in which men and women live their lives beneath empty heavens and expect to be recycled rather than resurrected, there is no solid moral foundation for good and evil. Anti-theists like Christopher Hitchens mocked and reviled the idea that mankind needed God to know right from wrong, but scarcely two generations into our Great Secularization and we no longer even know male from female.
It would be interesting to know how the late Hitchens would have responded to the insanities that have proliferated since his passing, and whether he would have come to realize, as some of his similarly godless friends have, that one does not need to find Christianity believable to realize that it is necessary. Douglas Murray, who has taken to occasionally calling himself a “Christian atheist,” has publicly argued with Hitchens’ fellow “Horseman of the Apocalypse” Sam Harris over whether a society based on Enlightenment values is even possible without Christianity. Harris holds out hope that such a society is possible. Murray is sympathetic, but skeptical.
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The crimes of religion pale in comparison to those
of secular regimes. This doesn’t justify wrongs done
in the name of Christianity, but it does undermine
unchecked enthusiasm for a godless utopia.
― Scott Klusendorf,
The Case for Life
When you take your atheistic-nihilistic axe to the roots of a tradition 2500
years old, you should expect something to fill the void. And the odds of the
new thing being BETTER are zero.
. . . You thought you could live off Christian moral oxygen, but once you cast
off Christianity in your “grand liberation,” you cut off the air supply.
And now it’s running out.
Sorry you have to breath poison, but this is what you made room for.
So why . . . would you think that, after you told us all that God and rights
and morality were ALL B.S. that people wouldn’t just start imposing THEIR VALUES BY FORCE?
THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS. THAT’S WHAT ALWAYS HAPPENS.
— Eve Keneinan
The distinction between Christianity
and all other systems of religion consists
largely in this, that in these others,
men are found seeking after God, while
Christianity is God seeking after men.