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Anthropologist Foresees a Christian Renaissance

"Ideologies Are Virtually Deceased," Says René Girard

ROME, DEC. 18, 2006 (Zenit) - French anthropologist René Girard, one of the most influential intellectuals of contemporary culture, thinks that a Christian Renaissance lies ahead.

In a book published recently in Italian, "Veritŕ o fede debole. Dialogo su cristianesimo e relativismo" (Truth or Weak Faith: Dialogue on Christianity and Relativism), the anthropologist states that "we will live in a world that will seem and be as Christian as today it seems scientific."

Girard, recently elected to be one of the 40 "immortals" of the French Academy, said: "I believe we are on the eve of a revolution in our culture that will go beyond any expectation, and that the world is heading toward a change in respect of which the Renaissance will seem like nothing."

The text published by Transeuropa, is the result of 10 years of meetings between the French thinker and Italian professor Gianni Vattimo, theorist of so-called weak thought, on topics such as faith, secularism, Christian roots, the role of the Gospel message in the history of humanity, relativism, the problem of violence, and the challenge of reason.

The book presents specifically to the general public the transcription of three unpublished conferences in which the two authors challenge each other on the most radical points of their thought.

New need

In the book, the French professor states that "religion conquers philosophy and surpasses it. Philosophies in fact are almost dead. Ideologies are virtually deceased; political theories are almost altogether spent. Confidence in the fact that science can replace religion has already been surmounted. There is in the world a new need for religion."

In regard to moral relativism, defended by Vattimo, René Girard writes: "I cannot be a relativist" because "I think the relativism of our time is the product of the failure of modern anthropology, of the attempt to resolve problems linked to the diversity of human cultures.

"Anthropology has failed because it has not succeeded in explaining the different human cultures as a unitary phenomenon, and that is why we are bogged down in relativism.

"In my opinion, Christianity proposes a solution to these problems precisely because it demonstrates that the obstacles, the limits that individuals put on one another serve to avoid a certain type of conflicts."

The French academic continues: "If it was really understood that Jesus is the universal victim who came precisely to surmount these conflicts, the problem would be solved."

According to the anthropologist, "Christianity is a revelation of love" but also "a revelation of truth" because "in Christianity, truth and love coincide and are one and the same."

Christian truth

The "concept of love," which in Christianity is "the rehabilitation of the unjustly accused victim, is truth itself; it is the anthropological truth and the Christian truth," explains Girard.

In the face of Vattimo's appeals to justify abortion and euthanasia as well as homosexual relations, the French professor stresses that "there is a realm of human conduct that Vattimo has not mentioned: morality." Girard goes on to explain that "understood in the Ten Commandments is a notion of morality," in which the notion of charity is implicit.

Girard then answers Vattimo, who suggests a "hedonist Christianity."

"If we let ourselves go, abandoning all scruples, the possibility exists that each one will end up doing what he wants," writes Girard.

The French anthropologist criticizes the "politically correct world" which considers "the Judeo-Christian tradition as the only impure tradition, whereas all the others are exempt from any possible criticism."

Girard reminds the defenders of the politically correct that "the Christian religion cannot even be mentioned in certain environments, or one can speak of it only to keep it under control, to confine it, making one believe that it is the first and only factor responsible for the horror the present world is going through."

As regards moral nihilism, which seem to permeate modern society, Girard concludes that "instead of approaching any form of nihilism, stating that no truth exists as certain philosophers do," we must "return to anthropology, to psychology and study human relations better than we have done up to now."

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Keywords

Christian, Renaissance, Girard, Anthropology, Culture, French

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