Monday, April 18, 2011

John 8:3-5

John 8:3-5
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?"

Comment -“The Stoning of Soraya M.” and the Figure of Christ

I am convinced that, though Christians rarely have lived up to it, there is an ideal at the heart of the Gospel that represents a permanent challenge to the travesty of justice on display in the story of Soraya. As the film came to its bloody climax, I found myself haunted by the story told in the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel of the woman caught in adultery. Many of the dynamics of the Soraya narrative are evident in this account: a woman accused of a sexual offense, the formation of an angry mob, the sanctioning of violence through religious authority, the thrill that comes through scapegoating.

But then there is the decisive difference. When the religious leaders of the mob—thirsty for blood and confirmed in their self-righteousness—inquire of Jesus what he would recommend, the young rabbi bends down and writes on the ground. Then he stands up and says, “let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her” (Jn. 8: 7). This devastating one-liner causes the elders to drop their stones and prompts the crowd to dissipate like a summer cloud. Jesus doesn’t sanction scapegoating violence; he interrupts it. He demonstrates that God stands, not on the side of victimizers, but of victims. And this divine solidarity with victims comes to its richest expression when Jesus becomes himself an innocent victim of a religiously sanctioned scapegoating mob.

The French philosopher Rene Girard has argued that all dysfunctional human societies—from coffee klatches to nation states—are predicated upon the scapegoating mechanism, that is to say, the tendency to find someone or some group to blame. In its shared hatred, the group finds a satisfying, though ultimately unstable, unity. Girard identified the first revelation (unveiling, re-velatio) of Christianity as precisely this uncovering and de-legitimizing of the scapegoating mechanism, and the second as the manifestation of the God who is friend to the victim.

What particularly gripped me as the movie came to its conclusion was this: Saraya, devout Muslim and innocent victim of mob violence, lying dead in a pool of her own blood, is one of the most powerful Christ figures in recent cinema.

Source: extract from

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