Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Myth of Redemptive Violence

Professor Emeritus (Auburn Seminary) Walter Wink in his Engaging the Powers trilogy wrote on a very important theme, that has impacted my thinking over the years: "The Myth of Redemptive Violence." Ekklesia website recently published an article on the theme in preparation for a seminar organized by the London Mennonite Center.

The belief that violence “saves” is so successful because it doesn’t seem to be mythic in the least. Violence simply appears to be the nature of things. It’s what works. It seems inevitable, the last and, often, the first resort in conflicts. If a god is what you turn to when all else fails, violence certainly functions as a god. What people overlook, then, is the religious character of violence. It demands from its devotees an absolute obedience- unto-death.

This Myth of Redemptive Violence is the real myth of the modern world. It, and not Judaism or Christianity or Islam, is the dominant religion in our society today. When my children were small, we let them log an unconscionable amount of television, and I became fascinated with the mythic structure of cartoons. This was in the 1960s, when the ”death of God” theologians were being feted on talk shows, and secular humanity’s tolerance for religious myth and mystery were touted as having been exhausted.



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