Girard Friday

A moment of Girardian illumination while listening to Stainer’s Crucifixion just now. One of the hymns is Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me, which includes the following verse:

Lord, I have left thee, I have denied,
followed the world in my selfish pride;
Lord, I have joined in the hateful cry,
slay him, away with him, crucify!

Lord, I have done it, oh! ask me not how;
woven the thorns for thy tortured brow;
yet in his pity, so boundless and free,
Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me!

What hit me was that the highlighted lines are not pious boilerplate (“I would have behaved like that had I been there, sinner that I am”),  but a literal statement of truth. I may not have been in the crowd on Good Friday, but I have participated in – continually participate in – the same victimary mechanism of scapegoating: “Slay him, away with him, crucify!”

To give one example on the most trivial level: my participation in the Twitter-based mob hounding of Jan Moir last year. I still think she was wrong to write what she did, but in retrospect the response she triggered went beyond that, involved something more primal: the mechanisms of scapegoating and casting-out that Jesus came to explode from within. “Slay her, away with her, crucify!”

Yet in his pity, so boundless and free,
Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me!

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One Response to Girard Friday

  1. Rick Ritchie says:

    My reading tonight of Peter’s denial really brings a lot of this home. There you see someone who really has quite a bit of courage. When told he will deny, he says he won’t. Then when the others have scattered, he follows to the judgment hall. Girard argues that he doesn’t fear the crowd. I think this is probably right. In the garden, Peter was clearly armed and was ready to fight. I imagine the servant girl was less threatening than the group of soldiers who came to arrest Jesus, especially to an armed man. When you see all the others scatter, and then this one who appeared so courageous crumble, you know that this is a description of everyone. “Though none go with me, still I will follow” (from “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”) could have been written by Peter that night. And a lot of good singing this tune did when the crisis occurred.

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