Girard and the Millennials: New Perspectives on Evangelization

Philip Sutherland, SJ

Abstract


René Girard in conversation with Charles Taylor can help us to analyze the connection

between violence and religion. Girard’s lens of mimetic desire helps to clarify how Jesus was

the anti-sacrifice who desired to end the scapegoat mechanism. Taylor provides a lens on the

transcendent and its sometimes hidden presence in our secular world. People are constantly

feeling the cross pressures between a closed immanent frame and an openness to fulfillment

outside of one’s self. Taylor’s analysis becomes concrete in the sociological research regarding

Millennials and their ambivalence toward organized religion. Many young adults today are

seeking the transcendent but have no idea how to find it. Additionally, they are wary of the

divisiveness of religion and many view religion as but another contributor to an already violent

world. However, Boeve’s image of theology as interruption gives us a lens with which to see

Girard’s narrative as God’s interruption of human history. This interruption demands an equally

serious, committed response. Such a demanding and meaningful narrative can be attractive to

Millennials who generally view religion as simply one equally meaningless choice among others.


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