During this week, I've seen three events that put into focus the thoughts of Fr. Robert Barron on the movie "The Hunger Games", based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins. That series, as many of you may recall, takes place in a future America divided into ten districts where the wealth is in the hands of an aristocracy and the vast majority of people live in Third-World conditions. It is also a world that, having fully repaganized, has revived the tradition of human sacrifice of those from conquered peoples within the empire as a form of social outlet.
During the video below, Fr. Barron points out how the novel is a continuation of the thread in 20th century literature and mythology that touches upon human sacrifice as a social outlet to allow the dynasty to maintain order (think of "the Lottery", which many read or seen on film in high school). A key point Fr. Barron brings up is a concept by French literary critic René Girard called the scapegoating mechanism.
As society coalesces, the desires and jealousies of the groups and individuals, which Girard refers to as "memetic desire" can form into a type of disease that threatens to break things apart, a "memetic contagion." At this point, suggests Girard, the society picks a target individual, blames him for their troubles, and casts out or kills that individual. This is called the Scapegoating Mechanism.
It reminds me of the present uproar over the case of George Zimmerman, accused of murdering Treyvon Martin in an altercation within Zimmerman's community last month. I do not wish to wade into Zimmerman's guilt or innocence, in fact the coverage and the things said appear to make that beside the point, sadly. Given the attempt to find the man's address to bring harm to the man, the calls to prosecute him for anything to simply put him in jail, and even the calls of some to take matters into their own hands to inflict "justice" upon Zimmerman in retaliation for Martin's death, not to mention the distortions incorporated into the media coverage
, I wonder if it is possible for Zimmerman to find a impartial panel to try him on the basis of facts. It seems that, to the Obama administration and the activists involved, Zimmerman is guilty regardless of the facts
, which suggests that he is about to become a scapegoat for the ever present racial tensions in the United States.
There is another movie coming out
about the corrupt power structures in the United States, which compares the activities of the power elite and the corporations to the prostitution and drug gangster activities that occur in the ghetto. Thus the title, "Ghetto Physics."
The core metaphor is the relationship of domination and degradation that occurs between the pimp and the prostitutes (the "ho"s) he controls and enslaves. The movie and the book it was based on, "Will The Real Pimps and Hos Please Stand Up! — Peeping the Multi-leveled Global Game," the premise of which is that all of us are either pimps (control freaks) or Ho's (the weak who suffer the use of the pimps). The goal, according to the book and the movie, is that we realize what we are and "wake up" to take charge of our life and "make new dreams".
If you are at all Christian and have some understanding of your faith, this should raise a red flag. There's a serpent's tail in all this slithering about, and it's in the very notion of how we are to take charge of our lives. What is suggested by the trailer above is that we are to make a mental shift that allows us to "conceive our own reality" and take power. In effect, what it hints at is that there is no absolute truth, and that we are to make our myths to achieve our own apotheosis. There is a scene in the trailer (about 1:25) where the professor chants "who
creates our reality?" and the students respond "WE
create our reality."
This concept is the core of the pantheistic New Age movement, especially as described in books such as "The Secret." In reality, the concept is older than civilization, being seen in the Emperor worship in Egypt and continuing to Rome, where by the time St. John the Evangelist is writing the Book of Revelation, the Emperor Domitian is encouraging the building of temples to worship the Emperor cult and even given emperors the title "Dominus and Deus noster
." (Latin: "Our lord and god"). Indeed, it seems the relationship discussed here began in the garden with a serpent's lie, "you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.
" [Gen 3:5]
The Bible, then, understands the power dynamic that is called here "ghetto physics", but unlike the movie and the book, it shows us the real way out, just as it does from the Scapegoating Mechanism. Instead of the "Pimp and ho" as the prime example of manipulation and sado-masochism, we have the family based on the sacramental marriage between a man and a woman as the example of love, sacrifice, and self-gift. Instead of the corporatism and crony-capitalist power plays between government, the Church offers us the example of forgiveness, love, and identification with the victim. Instead of leadership as being the "pimp" over others, we have the identification of leadership and greatness with service.But Jesus calling them, saith to them: You know that they who seem to rule over the Gentiles, lord it over them: and their princes have power over them. But it is not so among you: but whosoever will be greater, shall be your minister. And whosoever will be first among you, shall be the servant of all. For the Son of man also is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a redemption for many.
As we continue our journey to Easter through Good Friday and the Passion, let us pause to remember the Kenotic Hymn given to us by St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians, written about a decade and a half from the Passion, death and resurrection of Christ. This is the real way out from under the troubles we find ourselves in, whether we call it the great conspiracy, power plays, memetic desire, or "Ghetto Physics."For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.