Thursday, March 23, 2006

Tom Fox and the Sacrificial Machinery

Tom Fox was killed. In the last week or so two columns have been written. One was filled with the neo-pagan ravings of Cal Thomas (I mean neo-pagan to be dispassionately and objectively descriptive, I’m not name calling). Here is the well-reasoned response from Rev. David B. Miller.

First of all it should be obvious to anyone that Cal Thomas is a cynical propagandist and provocateur. He seems obsessed with the Other (and what they’re doing), and that there are no authentic, non-political actions. You’re literally either with us or against us. But that’s enough of my attempt to paint the psychological portrait of Mr. Thomas.

The world views peaceful and reconciliatory action as suspect or ineffectual, only killing and murder is useful. War and collective killing is for the serious, the destruction of whoever has been designated evil is the only thing that really can bring peace. The mobilization of armies is good, loving your neighbor unto death is naïve. Nietzsche and all the great pagan apologists would agree, only murder and sacrifice will bring about peace. Like the good old pagan Apollonius (and his amazing peace bringing miracles)we must not be afraid to stone and murder the enemies of the gods. The worldly among us are always ready to throw a Pharmakos over the cliff.

From Girardian Lectionary:
Now here's the most interesting thing about that word pharmakon: there was a closely related word pharmakos, and the pharmakos in Greek society was a person who they would ritually run out of town, and sometimes kill, during a time of crisis. In other words, the pharmakos was like the witch, during medieval days in Europe. The pharmakos was the person blamed for the evil that was befalling them. Think for a moment about how that relates to the pharmakon, the drug. Certainly, driving someone out of town and killing them is an evil, poisonous thing to do. But the instinct was that the community had to risk just the right dose of this poisonous thing in order to be cured from an even greater outbreak of death. In short, we would say that they would risk a small dose of violence, ritually killing just one person, in order to find a remedy against the greater evil of many people dying. So the pharmakos could be used when they were attacked by a physical illness, but the pharmakos could also be used as a remedy against impending rioting and unrest, or civil war. In other words, ancient peoples generally experienced violence as in the same category as physical illness, as evils that could kill you. And so they used a dose of violence against any deadly evil that they feared. That's why blood sacrifice is so universal across the beginnings of all human cultures. Killing a person or an animal on an altar was experienced like a drug, like a small dose of evil that was used as a remedy against wider outbreaks of evil.

Cal Thomas doesn’t doubt that they’re can be peace on Earth, it’s just that he seemingly believes the only way to bring about this peace is through the killing/murder of whoever is designated the current enemy. “Evil must be defeated if peace on earth is to exist.” This “defeating evil” always seems to consist of killing and bombing our perceived enemies and the innocent people and children around them.

I know I’m rambling, but what do people think Jesus is talking about in John 10.
Again from Girardian Lectionary, notes from a lecture by Gil Bailie:

Sheep Gate, which is the gate in the wall of Jerusalem through which the sheep were led and then held in a holding area on their way to the altar of sacrifice. It was the entry point for the victims of the sacrificial regime…

The most important reference to sheep in the New Testament is sacrificial. Sheep are the sacrificial animals par excellence...If we are correct in suggesting that the ones who come in by the gate are victims, then the thieves and bandits are those who manipulate the system by redirecting its sacrificiality towards more expendable victims.

Is Jesus saying that he will lead his people through the sacrificial machinery? Is this why the people call him “mad”?

Also what is the common understanding of Mark 8:34? Jesus says take up your cross. In light of John 10 is he asking us to follow him into the sacrificial machinery. Is this what Tom Fox did? One thing I think we can safely assume is that Jesus is not telling us to take up the literal sword/gun and go and defeat us some “evil”. Is Jesus saying, “pick up the instrument of your own execution?”

To a man caught up with the powers of the world “…the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

Rene Girard says, “The Johannine Logos discloses the truth of violence by having itself expelled.” Human society is founded upon violence and the collective expulsion of a person or group of persons.

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