Reflections on the Social and Ecological Impacts of Religious Patriarchy

Vol. 2, No. 3, March 2006

Luis T. Gutierrez                                                                             Newsletter Home Page

Humanity is currently on a global journey from patriarchy to solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable human development. The Solidarity & Sustainability newsletter is a series of reflections on how to mitigate patriarchal barriers to human development and, in particular, how to overcome the enormous obstacles caused by religious patriarchies. The newsletter integrates existing and emerging knowledge (empirical evidence, tradition, relevant experience, wisdom) to show that true religion radically transcends the patriarchal mindset. In fact, true religion always enhances human development, and should never be an obstacle to it. The "Millennium Development Goals" of the United Nations are used as a point of reference.

Theme of this Issue:
Patriarchy and Mimetic Violence


This issue starts a new cycle of reflections on patriarchy, solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable human development. The mimetic theory of René Girard is used to analyze the origins of the patriarchal mindset, the subjugation of women, and the triple addiction to wealth accumulation, absolute power, and worldly honors. The root cause of patriarchal domination is found to be mimetic violence, or violence by imitation.

Mimetic violence is not intrinsic to human nature, and therefore can be overcome. Overcoming the patriarchal mindset entails renouncing violence and embracing non-violence. This is easier said than done, but not impossible. The transition from patriarchy to solidarity is, therefore, a transition from violence to non-violence. It is a transition that humanity must accomplish in order to survive in harmony with the human habitat. It has both secular and religious dimensions, as the Girardian analysis of the Bible concludes that not even the Christian churches have understood (let alone put in practice) the radical rejection of violence that the Gospels reveal as God's will for humankind.

In practical terms, the transition from patriarchy to solidarity entails replacing structures of competition with structures of partnership at all levels: families, communities, associations, institutions. Patriarchs are marked for extinction. Some secular patriarchs already recognize that their time is up. Most religious patriarchs still refuse to face the music. The issue ends with a meditation based on the Trinity icon of Andrei Rublev.











In the February issue on Sustainable Human Development, we completed the first iteration around the main feedback loop of the process model. During this first iteration, we have noted the following along the interfaces between technology, ecology, and society:

~ Anthropologically, inter-gender violence (physical and/or psychological) is the most pervasive form of violence
~ Therefore, overcoming inter-gender violence, and attaining inter-gender solidarity, is priority #1
~ Also anthropologically, patriarchy entails a triple addiction to wealth accumulation, absolute power, and worldly honors
~ Socially, secular patriarchal violence is bad enough, and religious patriarchal violence is even worst
~ Also socially, the outlook is for a required transition from patriarchy to solidarity
~ Economically, "more is not necessarily better" and, actually, "more may be less"
~ Also economically, "the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer"
~ Environmentally, there can be no sustainability without taking good care of the human habitat
~ Also environmentally, the outlook is for a required transition from biosphere abuse to global stewardship for sustainability
~ This transition will bring about complex social issues at all levels: local, national, regional, global
~ This transition may be globally painful at all levels, include violence, and require drastic changes in lifestyle
~ This transition will require a shift priorities from economic development to human development
~ There is no "quick fix" (technological, financial, educational, or any other) that will make this an easy transition
~ During this transition, it is critical to avoid both false hopes and useless fears about the future of humanity
~ For those who believe that God is love, there is sure hope for the future of humanity
~ At the moment, the best guidance on how to proceed is coming from the United Nations, in particular the Millennium Development Goals

Let us now get started on the second iteration with a revised analysis of the patriarchal mindset. This analysis will be based on the mimetic theory of René Girard [01]. The term mimetic theory comes from mimesis, meaning imitation or mutual imitation. According to Girard, the root cause of all human behavior and all cultural mindsets is mimetic desire: we desire what others desire (e.g., wealth, power, prestige) and we desire to be associated with those who think and act the way we do. Cultural change, or transitions from one mindset to another, requires a change in mimetic desire. The process of cultural change unfolds as a succession of desire, conflict, violence, and peace cycles. The violent phase often includes the victimization of scapegoats. Pauline Guthrie has provided a concise synopsis of the mimetic process [02].

"René Girard, French cultural anthropologist, posits that human beings acquire their sense of self or being by "mimesis" or "mutual imitation" .... This mimetic desire is ontological in that we learn to desire what others desire and we identify with others who are what we would like to become. When a sufficient number of people feel blocked in their desires to achieve the power, prestige or property which their model possesses, the ensuing rivalry results in a 'scandal'. Models become rivals and thence stumbling blocks. Resultant pent up frustration leads to the isolation and destruction of a weak, marginalised victim, whom the community can sacrifice with impunity. The victim is either ritually killed or expelled as a scapegoat inaugurating a catharsis of release from disorder .... Ironically, the once-maligned victim, now becomes the channel for peace and prosperity, hence a 'god', in a process Girard calls "double transference" .... This is the classic structure of myth."

Figure 1 is a revision of the solidarity-sustainability process model to reflect the Girardian theory.



Exponential Growth
("more, more, more")


Human Person
Human Habitat


Figure 1 - Girardian Revision of the Process Model

There are many kinds of mimetic desire. Since the beginning of history, there is evidence of acquisition desire, i.e., the desire to acquire some object others have. The desire of a male to be the dominant male, inherited by homo sapiens from our pre-human ancestors, is perhaps the most fundamental acquisition desire (women were often treated as property in the ancient Hebrew bible, remember? [03]). It does not matter whether the desire is to have access to all the females or any female in particular. If the desired object is not obtained from the current "owner," then there is conflict and mimetic violence until the issue is "settled." Mimetic violence is, therefore, the root cause of patriarchy.

Settling the issue often entails the weaker person running away or, in more complex situations where the crisis induces social turmoil, a victim being killed as a sacrifice to the gods, who then put an end to the turmoil. Then there is peace .... until the next cycle of desire, conflict, violence, and peace. This vicious cycle can be broken only by renouncing violence. The path from patriarchy to solidarity is the path from violence to non-violence. Perfect non-violence may not be an attainable goal. But violence can and must be mitigated. Let us consider mimetic violence, and the mitigation of mimetic violence, in terms of the triple addiction to wealth accumulation, absolute power, and worldly honors.


Figure 2 shows the causal loop diagram, revised to incorporate Girard's insights. Since it is clear that primitive religions had a mythological origin and the same mythologies were the source of both religious and social patriarchy (inasmuch as patriarchy entails some form of inter-gender violence leading to the subjugation of women), the patriarchal mindset block has been partitioned to explicitly account for secular and religious patriarchy. Note that the notation has been revised to accommodate this change.

[CLD2] Figure 2 - Girardian Revision of the Causal Loop Diagram

In this revised CLD, some new feedback loops emerge (the ones in the pink boxes). The table below summarizes the loops and their mimetic analysis:

Loop 0:
A-AA-A (or AA-A-AA)
Acquisition mimesis and/or conflictual mimesis lead to mimetic violence, and it is well know that violence leads to more violence. Therefore, religious patriarchy and secular patriarchy are mutually reinforcing, precisely because religious violence and secular violence are mutually reinforcing.
Loop 1:
Loop A-B-C-D-E-F-A now has a nested loop AA-B-C-D-E-F-AA that reinforces inter-gender violence even more, thus exacerbating any mimetic crisis and adding resilience to the patriarchal mindset in both religion and society.
Loop 2:
A-B-C-D-G-H-J-F-A now has a nested loop AA-B-C-D-G-H-J-F-AA, with the same mimetic repercussions described for loop1.
Loop 3:
This loop remains the same. The loop remains weak as long as gender equity remains weak due to loops 1 and 2.
Loop 4:
Loop 4 remains the same, and also remains weak as long as gender equity remains weak due to loops 1 and 2.
Loop 5:
C-D-C (or D-C-D)
The solidarity ethos (C) and the sustainability ethos (D) are mutually reinforcing, but the reinforcement remains weak as long as gender equity (B) remains weak due to the inter-gender mimetic violence generated by strong loops 1 and 2.
Loop 6:
This loop inhibits gender equity by weakening K12 education, especially for girls. The embedded loop 0, A-AA-A, is stronger than the embedded loop 5, C-D-C, and therefore is dominant.
Loop 7:
Loop 7 reinforces the effect of loop 6, and for the same reason: the strength of loop A-AA-A and the weakness of loop C-D-C.
Loop 8:
Loop 8 remains the same, and also remains weak as long as gender equity remains weak due to loops 1 and 2.
Loop 9:
Loop 9 remains the same, and also remains weak as long as gender equity, the solidarity ethos, and the sustainability ethos remain weak due to loops 1 and 2.
Loop 10:
Loop 10 remains the same, and it is well known that the bed is the only consolation of the poor and oppressed, who suffer both the economic and political varieties of mimetic violence.
Loop 11:
Loop 11 is new and accounts for mimetic violence of the religious variety. Religious fundamentalism is itself a form of mimetic violence against authentic religion. It exacerbates any mimetic crisis due to secular violence, and reinforces the consolidation of religious patriarchal institutions.
Loop 12:
Loop 12 is also new and, when the embedded loop AA-A-AA is taken into account, accounts for both secular and religious mimetic violence. It exacerbates even more any mimetic crisis due to any form of violence, and reinforces the consolidation of both secular and religious patriarchal institutions.
Loop 13:
Loop 13 shows how secular patriarchy induces the triple addiction to wealth accumulation, absolute power, and worldly honors. This sets the stage for a mimetic crisis and both secular and religious violence.
Loop 14:
Loop 14 further augments the triple addiction by extravagant religious consumption, abuses of religious power, and pompous worldly honors disguised as religious rituals. Loops 13 and 14 reinforce each other, with religious consumption imitating secular consumption and vice versa.

Table 1 - Mimetic Analysis of the Causal Loop Diagram

Excessive consumption and wealth accumulation are addictive. The reason they are addictive is that the violence engendered by acquisition mimesis is itself mimetic and addictive [04].


Absolute power is addictive. The addiction to wealth accumulation leads to power addiction. The reason is that the violence engendered by conflictual mimesis follows from the mimetic desire for more wealth and more consumption. The mimetic desires form wealth and power feed on each other, and this is a source of continuity and resilience for patriarchal institutions that have been "in the loop" for centuries [05].


There is more. The addiction to worldly honors follows from both acquisition mimesis and conflictual mimesis. Thus we have a chain: mimetic desire for wealth accumulation leads to mimetic desire for absolute power, which is turn leads to mimetic desire for worldly honors. This triple addiction if sustained by violence, which in turn assure the perpetuation of patriarchal institutions; and these, in turn, add fuel to the triple addictions [06].

How could this vicious cycle be broken?


It is not easy, but it is simple: renounce violence, embrace non-violence. Since violence is the fuel that keeps all the patriarchal reinforcement loops going, it follows that renouncing violence would deprive those loops of the fuel they need to keep going. When the patriarchal reinforcement loops are no longer dominant, then the solidarity-sustainability loops can gain strength and even become dominant, and healing from the triple addiction will commence. Healing of the triple addiction will make possible a radical shift from consumerism to human development, and this will further weaken the patriarchal mindset. Who would want to regress from homo solidarius to homo economicus? Who would want to regress from homo solidarius to homo violentus?

This brings back to mind the issue of gender balance. Mahatma Gandhi had the courage to share the following insight: "Nonviolence is the inherent quality of women. For ages men have trained in violence. In order for them to become nonviolent they have to cultivate the qualities of women. Ever since I have taken to nonviolence, I have become more and more of a woman." But it is not a matter of having a few women around for decoration. Effective gender balance requires (as a goal) to have 50% of all roles of authority on earth (both secular and religious) in the hands of women. As Bishop Penelope Jamieson has pointed out [07]:

"The culture of institutions that have been shaped by centuries of patriarchal rule is in fact very resistant to change and very intractable. It takes more that one or even a few women in leadership roles to counter the drag to return to unconsciously assumed norms. Our marked minority status is simply a phase in history that must be lived through before deeper change can occur; I think it will last a long time."

In other words, tokenism will not be helpful. In fact, it may be counterproductive by creating false hopes for change. Even with full gender balance, it will take a long time. But Girard is unequivocal in postulating the renunciation of violence (both secular and religious) as the fundamental decision that humanity must make in order to overcome the patriarchal mindset [08]. "There is no other cause of violence but the universal belief that the cause is elsewhere. (...) Everybody is always equally responsible, but nobody wants to accept responsibility. (...) Religions and cultures cover up violence as they are based on it and they perpetuate themselves from it. Discovering their secrets brings a solution which must be scientific to the biggest enigma to all human sciences, that of the nature and the origin of the religion."


Solidarity is possible. Human development with peace and justice is possible. Girard's literary analysis of the Gospels provides (for the first time) a solid scientific basis for the feasibility of human solidarity and lasting peace [09]. Rather recently, a number of researchers have concluded that there were extended periods of peace in primitive societies [10].

The transition from patriarchy to solidarity will take a long time. But the longer it takes, the more harmful the effects of the patriarchal mindset will be; and the longer it takes, the more difficult it will be to overcome the increasing magnitude and complexity of the obstacles arising from patriarchal vested interests. Therefore, procrastination is not an option. One promising option is to foster a transition from patriarchy to partnerships, especially in the religious arena [11]: "This then is the dark side of our religious heritage -- the dark and indeed the sick side of spirituality diverted from its higher purpose by the dominator ethos. It's understandably hard for many of us to come to grips with this. But if we don't, we unthinkingly accept a system that continues to cause enormous suffering."

Patriarchal "discipline" does not work anymore. But it is not a matter of going from patriarchy to matriarchy. It is a matter of going from patriarchy to husband-wife, father-mother partnership. Both husband and wife "submit to each other." Both mother and father are "head of the family." Likewise for other institutions, both secular and religious. Partnership is not a formula for chaos. It is a formula for shared authority and responsibility in all human institutions.

Thankfully, many scholars and activists are recognizing the gravity of the situation. Perhaps even more important, new research is emerging which suggests that homo sapiens is not intrinsically violent [12]. According to a novelist, even the secular patriarchs must now recognize their own predicament [13]. But when it comes to the religious patriarchs, the outlook is both grim and comical, and one wonders whether to laugh or to cry [14].

This is the bottom line: "That a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind" [15].


Authentic human development is not a matter of accumulating wealth, or power, or honors. It has nothing to do with the addiction to "more, more, more" beyond what is necessary to meet reasonable human needs. It has everything to do with becoming more human, and this means becoming what we are, living images of our Creator. In the Christian tradition, this is often expressed in terms of becoming imago Dei and, therefore, imago Trinitatis. The following image is the famous "Trinity Icon" by Andrei Rublev, circa 1420 CE. This picture is not worth a thousand words, or a million words; it is worth trillions of words.

Every detail in this icon has a profound theological and human development significance. Again, it would be presumptuous to think that we can become perfect images of God in this life. But we can and must improve the visibility of the image of God in each one of us. We can become more of what we already are. This is the most authentic kind of human development, even if it must happen in the midst of suffering and tribulations. And becoming more human is the most fruitful kind of human development, not only for personal growth but for the common good of humanity, let alone the glory of God.

The following points (and questions) are offered for meditation:

+ There are three Persons, from left to right: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The bright blue is the color of the divinity. The dark red is the color of the humanity. The three angelic figures are divine Persons. The Son is divine (John 1:1) but assumed human nature (John 1:14). Question: do any of the three divine Persons is portrayed as being exclusively male? Is the masculinity of Jesus a divine attribute or a limitation of the human condition?

+ Both the Son and the Holy Spirit are turned toward the Father. This means that both the Son and the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father (Eastern Orthodox theology). The Father, who abides in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16), is turned toward the Son and the Holy Spirit. Question: is there any attitude of domination shown by any of the divine Persons? What is the attitude of each Person toward the other two (1 John 4:8)?

+ Note the building in the background. In eastern iconography, this is indicative of deep interiority and communion among persons. But this is not an exclusivist interiority that is closed to those outside. The tree alludes to the hospitality given by Abraham to the three visitors at Mamre (Genesis 18:1-7). Question: is this an image of human solidarity resembling the trinitarian communion, or is this an image of violent rejection or aggressive self-protection?

+ The three divine persons are sharing a table and, on the table, there is a cup. The cup signifies the Eucharist, i.e., love bestowed. Question: have we reached the point in which homo sapiens becomes homo eucharisticus or, at least, homo solidarius? Can we go forward and become more human by giving up our current status as homo economicus, and become interested in something more than the triple patriarchal addiction?

+ Notice the hole in the base of the table. It seems to be a narrow entrance to a tunnel that leads to a sharing in the trinitarian communion. It seems that the tunnel is both narrow and straight. Question: could this be a symbol of the straight and narrow path that leads to life (Matthew 7:14)? Could this be a symbol of the narrow gate that leads to the abundant life (John 10:10)?

+ Take time to contemplate this icon in light of the creation accounts (Genesis 1 and 2). We know that each human being, male or female, is imago Dei. It follows that each human being, male or female, is imago Trinitatis. Question: can we say that homo economicus is a good imago Dei. If so, let's keep accumulating wealth, power, and honors. Else, how can we become, if not homo eucharisticus, at least homo solidarius?

+ Take another look at this beautiful icon, which the Russian Orthodox Church considers to be "proto-revealed." There is absolutely no sign of violence in this icon. The God of the Judeo-Christian tradition is a loving, nonviolent God. Question: isn't this the answer? Isn't it a matter of radically renouncing violence as a way to settle human issues? Isn't violence the fundamental obstacle that precludes our transition from a patriarchal mindset to a solidarity-sustainability ethos and sustainable human development?


In the following list of selected references, care has been taken to include references that reflect opposite viewpoints in some controversial issues. Some references are supplemented by significant quotations, and some are annotated as to their relevance to issues of solidarity, sustainability, patriarchy, gender equity, and sustainable human development.

[01] René Girard (1923-) may be the most eminent literary critic and cultural anthropologist of the 20th century. It is not possible here to provide a detailed explanation of Girard's monumental work, which addresses critical issues of human knowledge and human development, and cuts across many disciplines including philosophy, psychoanalysis, anthropology, mythology, theology, and both the physical and social sciences. Girard has provided empirical support for his theory by careful analysis of extant literary sources from practically all cultures since the emergence of homo sapiens. Some scholars are still reluctant to embrace the Girardian system, but it may eventually be recognized to be on the same footing with Copernicus' heliocentric (Sun-centered) theory of the solar system and Darwin's theory of evolution. The following references are essential:

[01.01] Violence and the Sacred, René Girard, Johns Hopkins Press, 1977.
[01.02] Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, René Girard, Stanford University Press, 1978.
[01.03] The Scapegoat, René Girard, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989, 232 pages.
[01.04] Are the Gospels Mythical?, René Girard, First Things, Volume 62, April 1996.
[01.05] The Girard Reader, René Girard, Herder & Herder, 1997, 303 pages.
[01.06] I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, René Girard, Orbis, Maryknoll, N.Y., 2001.
[01.07] Violence and religion: cause or effect?, René Girard, The Hedgehog Review, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, 22 March 2004.
[01.08] Official website for exploration, criticism, and development of René Girard‘s Mimetic Theory, Dietmar Regensburger, Colloquium on Violence and Religion (COV&R), Institute for Systematic Theology, University of Innsbruck, Karl Rahner Platz 1, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria, 2006.

The following references are recommended for further study:

[01.09] Mimetic Paradox and the Event of Human Origin, Eric Gans, Anthropoetics Volume I, Number 2, December 1995.
[01.10] Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads, Gil Bailie, Crossroad Classic, 1996, 239 pages.
[01.11] Violence Renounced: Rene Girard, Biblical Studies, and Peacemaking, Willard M. Swartley (Editor), Studies in Peace and Scripture, 4, Pandora, 2000, 343 pages.
[01.12] The Theory of Rene Girard and its Theological Implications - Part I , The Theory of Rene Girard and its Theological Implications - Part II, The Theory of Rene Girard and its Theological Implications - Bibliography, Rob Moore, Kyrie, 2002.
[01.13] Violence Renounced: Rene Girard, Biblical Studies, and Peacemaking, Marva J. Dawn, Theology Today, January 2002.
[01.14] The Invention of the Female Mind: Women, Property and Gender Ideology in Archaic Greece, Hans Van Wees, Conference on Women and Property in Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Societies, Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University, August 2003.
[01.15] Women and Sacred Property: The Evidence from Greek Inscriptions, Diane Harris-Cline, Conference on Women and Property in Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Societies, Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University, August 2003.
[01.16] Women and Property in Persian Egypt and Mesopotamia, Annalisa Azzoni, Conference on Women and Property in Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Societies, Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University, August 2003.
[01.17] Mimesis as a phenomenon of semiotic communication, Timo Maran, Sign Systems Studies 31.1, 2003.
[01.18] Violence & the Lamb Slain, Brian McDonald, Touchstone Magazine, December 2003.
[01.19] Notes on the Origin of Patriarchy, Britton W. Johnston, Personal Web Page of Britton W. Johnston, 2003.
[01.20] Rene Girard's Theory of Violence, Religion and the Scapegoat, Jeramy Townsley, Jeramy's Web Space, December 2003.
[01.21] Some Implications of Girardian Theory for Problems in Theology, Britton W. Johnston, Personal Web Page of Britton W. Johnston, 2004.
[01.22] Nature, Human Nature, and the Mimetic Theory, Colloquium on Violence and Religion, Annual Conference, Abiqiu, New Mexico, June 2004.
[01.23] How Girard's Mimetic Theory Can Help Us Understand the Relationship Between Science and Religion, Britton W. Johnston, Metanexus Online Magazine, October 2004.
[01.24] Rene Girard: Violence and Mimesis, Chris Fleming, Key Contemporary Thinkers, Polity Press, 2004, 211 pages.
[01.25] Religion and Violence: the Suffering of Women, Susan Rakoczy, Sexuality in Africa, Volume 2, Issue 4, 2005.
[01.26] Mission Imperative, Britton W. Johnston, Personal Web Page of Britton W. Johnston, 2005.
[01.27] Daniel's Links to René Girard, Daniel and Rayli Nylund, Majatalo, Finland, 2006.
[01.28] Girardian Reflections on the Lectionary: Understanding the Bible Anew Through the Mimetic Theory of René Girard , Paul Nuechterlein et al, Girardian Lectionary Net, 2006.
[01.29] Exploring Faith and Engaging Culture, The Cornerstone Forum, Santa Rosa, California, 2006.
[01.30] Girardian Theory - Mimesis, Richard Powell, Richard Powell Websites and Recommended Links, 2006.
[01.31] Research Program Religion-Violence-Communication-World Order, Dietmar Regensburger, Faculty of Catholic Theology, University of Innsbruck, Austria, 2006.

[02] What is Paul actually inviting the Corinthians to do?, Australian E-Journal of Theology, Issue 3, February 2003.

[03] See, for example, Genesis 31:43, .Exodus 20:17, Deuteronomy 5:21.

[04] The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Barry Schwartz, Harper Collins, 2005, 265 pages. With regard to addictive wealth accumulation, see pages 23, 59, 106-110, 115, 172, 192-193, 196. Specifically on the issue of "oil addiction," see The hard truth about oil, Nelson D. Schwartz, Fortune Europe editor, Fortune, 9 February 2006.

[05] Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale, Maria Mies, Zed Books, 1986, 251 pages. With regard to power addiction, see pages 14, 25-27, 141, 145-173, 206, 218, 222, 229-230.

[06] The Creation of Patriarchy, Gerda Lerner, Oxford University Press, 1986, 318 pages. With regard to seeking the esteem of the world, see page 80. See also The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, translated by Louis J. Puhl, S.J., Loyola University Press, 1951, 216 pages. On the wealth-power-honor chain, see section 142, page 61. St. Ignatius uses a slightly different terminology, but the concept is the same.

[07] Living at the Edge: Sacrament and Solidarity in Leadership, Penny Jamieson, Mowbray, 1997, 200 pages. The quotation is from page 31.

[08] The Scapegoat, René Girard, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989, 232 pages. The quotation is from page 141.

[09] Girardian Reflections on the Lectionary, Paul Nuechterlein, Understanding the Bible Anew Through the Mimetic Theory of René Girard, 29 October 2005.

[10] Spear Led to Era of Early-Human Peace, Expert Says, Hillary Mayell, National Geographic News, 6 September 2005, and Early humans more peaceful than thought, Anne Minard, Arizona Daily Sun, 28 February 2006.

[11] The Power of Partnership, Riane Eisler, New World Library, 2002, 279 pages. The quotation is from page 193.

[12] For example, see the following:

[12.01] Experiments in non-violence: A personal journey and its correspondence with the works of René Girard and Jim Douglass, Yann Forget, International Seminar for the 125th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad, 6-8 November 1994.
[12.02] Peacebuilding for a Culture of Peace Thesis, Angela Ward, PEACE.CA, May 1999.
[12.03] The Roots of Violence, Dave Weissbard, UU Rockford, 17 October 1999.
[12.04] Thinking About Violence in Our Schools, Barry Kort and Nancy Williams, Multi-User Science Education Network, 2001.
[12.05] Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace, Judith L. Hand, Questpath, 2003.
[12.06] Depolarizing a Hostile World - A Key to Peacemaking, Charles Notess, E-BOOK, 2005.
[12.07] World Report on Culture of Peace, International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010), United Nations, 2005. The complete report is also available online: Midterm global review of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010, UNESCO, 2005.
[12.08] Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace, PEACE.CA, 2005.
[12.09] Religion and Violence, Wabash Center, 26 February 2006.
[12.10] My Core Convictions: Nonviolence and the Christian Faith, Paul Nuechterlein, Girardian Reflections on the Lectionary, 2 February 2006.
[12.11] A Future Without War, Judith L. Hand, A Future Without War Website, 2006. A book of the same title is forthcoming.
[12.12] Who Are More Helpful, Humans or Chimpanzees?, Joan B. Silk, Science, 3 March 2006, Vol. 311. no. 5765, pp. 1248 - 1249.
[12.13] Chimpanzees Recruit the Best Collaborators, Alicia P. Melis, Brian Hare, and Michael Tomasello, Science, Vol. 311. no. 5765, 3 March 2006, pp. 1297 - 1300.
[12.14] Altruistic Helping in Human Infants and Young Chimpanzees, Felix Warneken and Michael Tomasello, Science 3 March 2006, Vol. 311. no. 5765, pp. 1301 - 1303.

[13] The Autumn of the Patriarch. Wikipedia, article on El Otoño del Patriarca, Gabriel García Márquez, 1975.

[14] Take a look at these cartoons.

[15] Preamble of the Constitution of UNESCO, adopted by the General Assembly, London, 16 November 1945. Manual of the General Conference, UNESCO, Paris, 2002.

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The following are links to previous issues of the newsletter:

V1 N1 May 2005: Cross-Gender Solidarity
V1 N2 June 2005: The Phallocentric Syndrome
V1 N3 July 2005: From Patriarchy to Solidarity
V1 N4 August 2005: Synthesis of Patriarchy and Solidarity
V1 N5 September 2005: From Solidarity to Sustainability
V1 N6 October 2005: Dimensions of Sustainability
V1 N7 November 2005: Analysis and Synthesis of Objective Evidence
V1 N8 December 2005: Solidarity, Subsidiarity, and Sustainability
V2 N1 January 2006: Synthesis of Solidarity and Sustainability
V2 N2 February 2006: Sustainable Human Development

From Patriarchy
to Solidarity,
Sustainability, and

Patriarchal Addictions

Addiction to
Wealth Accumulation

Château de Versailles, France
About 10 miles from Paris
Royal residence, 1682-1789
Source: Wikipedia

Basilica of the Holy Family,
Barcelona, Spain
Photo by Mary Ann Sullivan,
Professor of English and Art History,
Bluffton University

Addiction to
Absolute Power

Secular Patriarch of Cuba since 1959

Two Secular Patriarchs

Secular and Religious Patriarchs

Addiction to
Worldly Honors

Pharaonic pomposity

Ecclesiastical pomposity


Dr. Ana Lita, Director of the International Humanist and Ethical Union-Appignani Center for Bioethics, United Nations, wrote to express interest in this project and inform about a conference on the moral, legal, and international norms in bioscience, to be held in New York City, April 21-23 (see announcement entitled "IS THERE A GLOBAL BIOETHICS?"). Response: "Thanks for the encouragement. This newsletter is my retirement project. I believe in my heart that the subject matter is critical. Sustainable development is not simply a matter of economic growth. Surely, people must be able to satisfy the need for food, shelter, education, leisure, etc. But, when are we going to learn that wealth accumulation, absolute power, and worldly prestige are neither necessary nor sufficient to inner peace and fulfillment? It is time to recognize that what really matters is integral human development, and there can be no lasting "sustainable development" without human development."

David Dupee wrote to express this concern: "Your premise clearly follows the classic error of asking the wrong question. The question is not whether or not to follow a patriarchal model, but what model will lead to sustainable human development. Study after study has demonstrated the need for the human child to have a secure two parent, male-female, family for nurture and stable development. Western society as a whole has been an unfettered experiment in following the model you appear to propose. The experiment has failed and has led to a society in chaos." Response: "Precisely. It is not a matter of going from patriarchy to matriarchy. It is a matter of going from patriarchy to husband-wife, father-mother partnership. Both husband and wife "submit to each other." Both mother and father are "head of the family." This is an important clarification that needs to be included in the next newsletter. Thank you for bringing this to my attention." [Clarification is provided in section 6 of this issue]


The United Nations

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New Resources

THE STATE OF THE WORLD'S CHILDREN 2006, UNICEF, 2005, 156 pages. From the Executive Summary: "The children who are hardest to reach include those living in the poorest countries and most deprived communities; children facing discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, disability or membership of an indigenous group; children caught up in armed conflict or affected by HIV/AIDS; and children who lack a formal identity, who suffer child protection abuses or who are not treated as children. These children, the factors that exclude them and make them invisible, and the actions that those responsible for their well-being must take to safeguard and include them are the focus of The State of the World's Children 2006."

A FUTURE WITHOUT WAR. This website is built from the biological perspective of Dr. Judith L. Hand. A book of the same title is forthcoming. From the home page: "Nine cornerstones are described on this site. They are all interconnected by the goal of ending war. Fleshed out in detail by experts in each field, these cornerstones constitute a powerful, unifying strategy for guiding the political, military, and commercial choices of the world's willing democracies through a "warfare transition." They offer a vision of hope for people not yet free. They can be the wellspring of the warless future we create for those who come after us."


IS THERE A GLOBAL BIOETHICS?: A conference on the moral, legal, and international norms in bioscience. Organized by the IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics and Genetics Policy Institute, assisted by The Alden March Bioethics Institute (AMBI) at the United Nations, New York City, April 21-23. Website: International Humanist and Ethical Union. Point of contact: Dr. Ana Lita, Director of Center for Bioethics.

CALL FOR PAPERS: A conference on Global Built Environment: Towards an Integrated Approach for Sustainability is to be held 11-12 September 2006, Preston, UK. Please submit abstracts by 15 February 2006 to Professor Monjur Mourshed, Senior Lecturer, Built Environment, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2HE, United Kingdom.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Women and Ordination in the Christian Churches. Lincoln Theological Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, University of Manchester, UK, 12-14 July 2006. Please submit a short outline of your proposed paper (max. 200 words) by 10 March 2006 to Dr. Ian Jones. For more information, visit the conference website.

CALL FOR PAPERS: The 14th international conference of the Society of Human Ecology (SHE) will take place 18-21 October 2006 at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. SHE welcomes proposals for sessions, multi-session symposia, as well as individual papers. Contact the Conference Committee, SHE XIV.

GLOBAL DIALOGUE 2006: Global Dialogue 2006 has already begun. Roundtable Discussions have begun on the Internet and you can participate now, today. You can participate in one of the discussion roundtables, or you can organize your own discussion roundtable. Start by going through the process described on Overview of the Process for Global Dialogue 2006.

United Nations MDGs

Millennium Development Goals
The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the following:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2. Achieve universal primary education

3. Promote gender equality and empower women

4. Reduce child mortality

5. Improve maternal health

6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases

7. Ensure environmental sustainability

8. Develop a global partnership for development

Interested in more information and data? Click the map below:


René Girard's
Mimetic Theory

Synopsis of
Mimetic Violence
The mimetic theory of René Girard explains violence at any level of intensity. The mimetic process is like a vicious cycle with 5 phases:

1. Mimetic Desire

One party identifies an object of desire and other parties imitate that desire. Examples of things children and adults desire: respect, attention, money, happiness, power, land, jobs, knowledge. Whatever the culture tells us is desirable, that's what people adopt as worth having.

2. Mimetic Rivalry

Now the parties begin competing for the object of desire. Whatever good competitive strategies emerge, others copy them. Since it's a rivalry, it's played as a win/lose game. To win, you only need to get more of the desirable object than the rival. If the object of desire is respect, you hit the rival with tokens of disrespect. This is done first with verbal violence, put downs, taunts, and escalates to rejection, alienation and shunning.

3. Skandalon

Skandalon is a Greek word that means "trap". It's the root of "slander" and "scandal." In the rivalry for respect, if one side is "dissed" they are caught in the temptation of Skandalon and feel compelled to retaliate. Thus begins a "dissing" war, fought on the battlefield of the psyche. Skandalon is what makes it so hard not to take the bait, so hard just to walk away. It's so easy to retaliate. The give and take escalates into mutual and mimetic enthrallment.

4. Alienation and Scapegoating

Eventually one side crosses some arbitrary threshold of concern where the supervising authorities feel compelled to intervene. It's essentially random which side crosses first, but often it's the weaker faction, which uses more venomous attacks to maintain parity. Whichever side goes over the arbitrary line becomes blameworthy, and the others who kept their violence below threshold are the victims. They gang up on and alienate the scapegoat, calling for the authorities to intervene and punish the blameworthy party.

5. Authorized, Sanctioned and Sacred Violence

To appease the mob/majority, the authorities determine guilt and visit sanctions and punishment on the scapegoat. This escalates the violence to the next higher level of authority in our culture.

The mimetic process is basically the same at all levels of power, and for all kinds of rivalries and competitions such as conflicts over religion, gender, sex, politics, attention, money, properties, power, ethnicity, etc. Any given conflict, at any given point in time, is in one of the five phases of the mimetic process, which repeats itself like a vicious cycle.

Source: This synopsis is adapted from Thinking About Violence in Our Schools, Barry Kort and Nancy Williams, Multi-User Science Education Network, 2001.

Gender Balance in Religion

Women in Roles of Religious Authority

Ludmila Javorova
Roman Catholic Priest
Ordained in Czechoslovakia, 1970
Invalidated by the Vatican, 1995
Source: WOC

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie
African Methodist Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Maryland
Source: ChickenBones Journal

Rt. Rev. Penelope Jamieson
Anglican Bishop of Dunedin,
New Zealand, 1990-2004
Source: Monumental Stories

Gender Balance in Society

Women in Roles of Secular Authority

Condoleezza Rice
US Secretary of State
Source: Wikipedia

Angela Merkel
Chancellor of Germany
Source: Wikipedia

Indira Gandhi
Prime Minister of India
Source: Wikipedia


"I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy."

Rabindranath Tagore, 1861-1941


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Copyright © 2006 by Luis T. Gutierrez


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