Michael Hardin

* Teaching on Tuesday 13th and Saturday 17


Executive Director Preaching Peace
Lancaster, PA

 

My Introduction to Rene Girard
I became acquainted with mimetic theory through the work of Raymund Schwager in 1987.  I recall devouring Violence and the Sacred, Things Hidden and The Scapegoat in my senior year of seminary. In 1990 I joined the Colloquium on Violence and Religion and have presented papers on the mimetic theory and theology on eight occasions. I have been particularly interested in exploring the philosophical shifts that morphed the Christian faith tradition from a non-sacrificial way of life to a religion grounded in sacrifice. My interest from early on was the exploration of positive mimesis.


Throughout the Years
My initial explorations in mimetic theory involved looking at figures from early Christianity: Justin Martyr, Marcion, Constantine, Augustine and Maximus Confessor.  Most recently I have been interested in the way mimetic theory explains aspects of aboriginal (first world) shamanism through my training in Native American wilderness survival. 
 

I founded Preaching Peace (www.preachingpeace.org) in 2002 for clergy who preached on the lectionary texts.  Preaching Peace, a nonprofit organization committed to ‘Educating the Church in Jesus’ Vision of Peace’ is an advocate for the mimetic theory all over the United States. In 2007 I co-founded Theology and Peace, an organization that discusses the way MT works out ‘on the ground’ in American Christianity.

 
Why Mimetic Theory is Important To Me
Through the years I have been impressed with the many and diverse ways MT has been appropriated in assorted disciplines, not least that of theology and biblical studies.  I am convinced that its heuristic value is incomparable. As we move from the late modern era to a postfoundatinalist way of thinking and as interdisciplinary studies grow, MT is positioned to open doors, enlighten minds, and hopefully help us not only to understand why we humans are violent creatures but also offers hope of transformation to paths of reconciliation, love and peacemaking.

Further Work
A sacrificial rendering of the Jewish-Christian canon has turned Christianity on its head. Of all the tools available only the MT seems to me capable of explaining both the deconstructive and reconstructive elements of Judaism and Christianity. In the past three years I have co-edited three books that tackle specific areas of Christian theology in light of mimetic theory: Stricken by God?: Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ (atonement), Peace Be With You: Christ’s Benediction amid Violent Empires (social relations, biblical studies and theology) and Compassionate Eschatology: Apocalypse or New Beginning? (eschatology). My most recent book, The Jesus Driven Life, is an attempt to show that the Gospel writers and the [so-called] historical Jesus both deconstruct the relation of violence and divinity. The Jesus Driven Life is a challenge for American Christians to rethink the sacrificial orientation of their faith in light of MT.

 

When All Is Said and Done
In For Rene Girard: Essays in Friendship and Truth I wrote:

“I still consider theology the most joyful of disciplines, and I am glad to be able to share in exploring how mimetic theory illumines biblical texts. How has the work of René Girard changed my thinking? It has focused me and at the same time has allowed me to see a bigger picture, bigger than I could ever have dreamed or imagined. The simplicity of mimetic theory brings focus; its applicability brings vision. I can no longer do theology etsi Girard non daretur. René does not have all of the answers; he is not always right. But he is the best guide for the direction in which humanity needs to go in its thinking and Christians in their theology as we begin this ominous twenty-first century.”