A Practical Guide To Mimetic Expressions Throug...
While researching for this guide I found a serious lack of reliable English language information. I could look up each word I found on trusty Jisho.org, but many of the definitions only supplied a general gloss and usually didn't include many of the mimetic meanings of the words. Japanese language sources were also, surprisingly, few and far between.
A Practical Guide To Mimetic Expressions Throug...
During this conversation the authors also developed an awareness for the conversation that took place between liberation theologians and René Girard (ed. Assmann 1991). These dialogues brought together two seemingly different epistemologies to expand their own hermeneutical horizons. With this article the authors aim to bring awareness to such conversation, bridge a knowledge gap and expand the conversation to engage practical theology through its potentially emancipatory and liberative expressions (Müller 2004).
The question the authors attempt to respond in this article is: How do we bring together the insights from mimetic theory, liberation theology and practical theology to develop a practical theology of liberation? In the next pages, the authors seek to explore possible fusions of these worlds and ways in which such fusions could find application in real-life contexts.
The theological worlds that the authors are merging in this article are very different from each other. They were born in different contexts, times and circumstances. Thereby, each theological insight is distinctive, though complementary to each other. In the next pages, the authors want to introduce the reader to a logical progression of ideas that will tie mimetic theory to liberation theology and practical theology.
Mimetic theory on its own has had a great deal of influence in different fields of study, ranging from religion and theology (Alison 1996; Girard 1977) to economics (Dumouchel 2014; Dupuy 2014), sociology (Tomelleri 2015) and psychoanalysis (Reineke 2014). The authors opine that the three elements of mimetic theory that resonate across different sciences are (1) an understanding of mimetic desire; (2) rivalry, violence and exclusion as a result of desire; and (3) the innocence of the scapegoat. With these three elements in mind, mimetic theory can contribute to a more robust practical theology of liberation. A fusion of insights from practical theology, liberation theology and mimetic theory can provide a new impetus for the practical theologian of liberation to explore the faith practices of faith communities amidst late capitalist society, from the perspective of the victims of current political, economic and religious institutions. The fusion of these worlds provides a tool for deconstruction and reconstruction of faith communities that could be more aware of their own exclusionary scapegoating practices.
What allowed us to bring together mimetic theory, liberation theology and practical theology was the intelligence of the victim. These three paradigms fused together are a powerful cross-contextual tool that allows the practical theologian of liberation to reimagine the humanity not only of the oppressed and marginalised, but also the humanity of the oppressors and perpetrators of violence. The fusion of this paradigms will build a theology of resistance that always struggles to rehumanise those who are about to be sacrificed (Aguilar 2018:131).
It was the intelligence of the victim in conjunction with liberation theology and then infiltrated into practical theology that naturally led us to the understanding of the other as being otherwise. With those few words, the reader may sense the direction of this ethical turn. It is in Levinas (1977, 1987, 2006) that the practical theologian of liberation can find a language of alterity that would not allow for simplistic philosophical and ethical reductionisms. A practical theology of liberation and peacebuilding has no other option but to see God beyond language. God is present and made tangible in the responsibility towards the other (Meylahn 2013:80). This leaves the liturgical, ritual and corporate expressions of practical and liberation theology with the task of teaching the faith community to be more human.
The fusion of theological worlds creates a practical theology of liberation and peacebuilding with the fullness of its possibilities and the breadth of its limitations. The fusion of theological accents implies that one cannot pick and choose only the good elements of each methodology. It implies that one has to be completely conscious of the shortcomings and strengths of each theological scaffolding to bring a comprehensive theological articulation that can respond well to the collective woundedness of our context. The fusion of mimetic theory, liberation theology and practical theology indicates that glocal theological articulations are not close to being exhausted. The authors would argue, as practical theologians of liberation from the Global South, that we are just beginning.
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