Reflections on the Social and Ecological Impacts of Religious Patriarchy

Vol. 2, No. 8, August 2006

Luis T. Gutierrez, Editor

Newsletter Home Page

Humanity is currently on a global journey from patriarchal violence 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 United Nations' Millennium Development Goals are used as a point of reference.

Theme of this Issue:
Mimetic Violence in Patriarchal Religions 5

NOTICE TO READERS: This issue concludes the current series on Mimetic Violence in Patriarchal Religions and the second iteration around the patriarchy, solidarity, sustainability, and human development feedback process model. The next issue shall start the third iteration. In order to allow time for research, reflection, and further study of mimetic theory (especially in connection with the social and ecological repercussions of religious violence), the newsletter may not be published monthly during the Fall 2006. God permitting, monthly issues shall resume no later than January 2007. Keep correspondence coming!


The intrinsic link between religion and violence cannot be overemphasized. Thus this final issue of the series on Mimetic Violence in Patriarchal Religions starts with a review of sacred violence and its pervasive presence in human affairs. The daily news confirm that a radical renunciation of violence, in both religious and social institutions, may be the most critical corner humanity must turn, and sooner better than later.

The role of violence in the Abrahamic religions is reviewed, followed by a brief overview of violence in other religions. It is a universal issue, and one that pertains to the future of human civilization. The universality of religious violence is confirmed by the ubiquity of gender violence, which harms 100% of humanity in one form or another. The Baha'i exception is highlighted with admiration.

Is there some degree of morally acceptable violence between all-against-all violence and radical non-violence? This is a complex question, but the tentative answer is "yes." Even Jesus of Nazareth had to temper his perfect non-violence with a healthy dosage of tough love. It would be ideal if everyone on earth were to embrace non-violence. But as long as this does not happen, the sensible strategy if to contain violence to manageable intensity and, at the same time, keep mitigating violence one step at a time. The journey to solidarity and sustainability will take time. Quantum jumps are not recommended.

This issue also presents a tentative (very tentative) approach to integrate mimetic theory and system dynamics. Such integration might eventually allow simulation analysis of the cyclical mimetic process, and make it possible to assess the feasibility and risks associated with managing various levels of violence along the path from patriarchy to solidarity.

INVITED ARTICLE: The invited article this month is A Commentary on Mimetic Theory, by Michael Hardin. The article is a concise and clearly written tutorial on mimetic theory, written by one of the experts on the theological anthropology of René Girard. We are grateful for his permission to publish this paper, which is a slight revision of Mimetic Theory and Peace Theology, recently published in the Every Church A Peace Church website.




A Commentary on Mimetic Theory

By Michael Hardin
Director, The School of Peace Theology, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Affiliated with the Colloquium on Violence and Religion since 1990


Sacred violence comes to us from human pre-history and has been the constant companion of humanity since the very beginning of recorded history (5000 years or so). It has mythological religious roots with many variations, but the basic process leading to sacred violence is always the same: mimetic desire is triggered, mimetic rivalry is induced and eventually escalates to intolerable violence, and the weakest or most vulnerable is selected as scapegoat and sacrificed to the gods, bringing some degree of tranquility until a new mimetic desire is triggered and the cycle starts again.

Even today, this process continues to be part of the human journey and all the religious traditions except one: the Christian gospel. In Jesus we find, for the first and last time in history, a radical and absolute rejection of violence of any kind, even to the point of refusing violence as a way to avoid the cross. As a result, there has been a gradual mitigation of religious violence. But the altar of sacrifice still works under many disguises. Physical violence is still happening, as 9/11 reminded us. And there are many other forms of violence and scapegoating of the most vulnerable: the emotionally unstable are targets of psychological violence, the poor are targets for economic violence, weak politicians are victimized by strong politicians, professional careers are terminated when employees resist following unethical directives from management, women are excluded from roles of religious authority by male-only hierarchies with absolute religious power, etc.

There is also the complex issue of victims becoming victimizers of their victimizers, thus becoming victimizers themselves. We all know that the only person who has never done anything bad to anybody is the person who has never done something good for anybody either. Nothing human is 100% pure. Are we to suggest that victimizers who keep victimizing should be left alone, so that they can keep victimizing? If we follow the example of Christ, the answer is "yes." For the way to reduce violence is not to punish the violent, but to reject violence itself by rejecting it in ourselves, not in others; even when others persist in using violence against us. Easier said than done? Sure, but this is the straight and narrow path that leads to peace. This radical embrace of non-violence does not cancel the need for justice, but redirects justice to assist the victims rather than victimizing the victimizer. In the ultimate analysis, it is a matter of replacing the ubiquity of violence by the ubiquity of non-violence.

Recommended reading: How to Scapegoat the Leader, Thomas A. Michael, International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations, Annual ISPSO Symposium, Melbourne, Australia, 2006. For additional references, see [01].


The three Abrahamic religions (or religions of "the book") are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They are monotheistic religions, and trace back their origin to God's covenant with Abraham -- a covenant granted after God had prevented Abraham from sacrificing his own son, Isaac, at God's request. Right from the very beginning, God is on the side of the victim and reveals that violence has no part in the divine plan for humanity. Later in Genesis we have the beautiful story of Joseph, who was a victim of his brothers but later forgave them when he had the opportunity to answer violence with violence. The book of Exodus is another example of God's intervention to liberate victims from their oppressors and actually preventing the liberated people of Israel from seeking retribution against the Egyptians.

There are instances of violence in the Old Testament. But it seems fair to take those as isolated incidents rooted in primitive thinking, while the main pattern is one that goes from violence to non-violence or, at least, lesser violence. Some of the most beautiful texts of the old testament actually reveal the unconditional mercy of God and prefigure the definitive revelation of God's non-violence in Jesus Christ. The portrait of the Suffering Servant in the so-called book of the consolation of Israel (Isaiah chapters 40ff) is a good example of this gradual but irreversible development in the Hebrew scriptures.

There is no room for violence in the New Testament, especially in the Gospels. Jesus is the perfect model of non-violence. Sadly, the Christian churches have often deviated from the path of non-violence. There is ample historical evidence of this, both within the churches and between the churches. There is also plenty of evidence of Christian violence toward other religions, as well as attempts to dominate social affairs. Some gradual progress can be discerned over the first two millennia of Christianity, but we have a long way to go before Christian churches become icons of the radical non-violence of Jesus.

Islam is a complex religious phenomenon. They recognize Abraham as the first prophet, Jesus as just another prophet, and Mohammed as the last and definitive prophet of Allah, the all powerful and all merciful God. But Mohammed resorted to violence in securing the territory surrounding Medina and Mecca, and his followers believe in jihad, or holy war. This holy war is both internal (against succumbing to inner temptations) and external (against the "infidels" who do not accept the teachings of the Qu'ran). To this day, holy war (provoked or unprovoked) continues to be a major disgrace for humanity.

Recommended reading: My Core Convictions: Nonviolence and the Christian Faith, Rev. Paul Nuechterlein, Senior Pastor, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Portage, Michigan. For additional references, see [02].


Numerically, Christianity (2.5 billion) and Islam (1.5 billion) are the two largest religious traditions in the world. This is also true geographically (see the Map of World Religions), with Europe, Russia, Oceania, southern Africa, and the American continent being predominantly Christian, and the Middle East, western Asia, and northern Africa being predominantly Muslim. It should be noted that massive migration patterns are now making the historical geographic boundaries less clear cut. Other significant world religions are Taoism (mostly in China), Hinduism (mostly in India), Buddhism (Southeast Asia and Mongolia), Judaism (dispersed beyond the small State of Israel all over the world but mostly in Europe, and North America), and Sikhism (northern India).

A comparative study of religions is beyond the scope of this newsletter. Some religions, including Christianity and Islam, are very fragmented and display a wide spectrum of theologies and practices. Some claim to be based on divine revelation, others are based of human meditation. Some worship a transcendent deity, others pursue self-cultivation within an anthropocosmic vision. In terms of fostering solidarity and sustainability, there seems to be a significant correlation between the patriarchal rigidity of religions and human development indicators such as literacy rates (World Illiteracy Map), the fraction of boys and girls sent to school (Ratio of Girls to Boys in Primary & Secondary Schools), and income per capita (GNI Per Capita of the World). The most advanced countries (educationally and economically) are those in which religious patriarchies are socially least influential. Some small religious traditions are significant. For instance, the Baha'i religion is a shining example of gender equality.

Religion, in the sense of the spiritual journey toward a personal relationship with God, is critically important for human development. Authentic religion inevitably leads outwardly toward love of humanity and love of the human habitat. Fanatical religiosity, on the other hand, inevitably leads to stagnation of the inner life and is projected outwardly by self-interest as the driving force of human behavior, including disdain for humanity and disdain for the human habitat. But while religion is always good, religious institutions are often corrupted by not practicing what they preach. Therefore, religious institutions must be open to the need for reformation as human history unfolds. Only then can they really help people to hang on to what is good, and let go of what is bad (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

Recommended reading: Women and Men: Partnership for a Healthy Planet, Statement presented to the World Women's Congress for a Healthy Planet, Baha'i International Community, November 1991, and A New Framework for Global Prosperity, Bahá'í International Community's submission to the 2006 Commission on Social Development on the review of the First United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, January 2006. For additional references, see [03].


Most of the existing religious traditions were formalized during the so-called axial age, roughly 800 to 200 BCE. This worldwide "religious awakening," while coinciding in the axial age time window, came to pass with minimum contact among the founders of the various traditions. And yet, patriarchal bias is pervasive in most of them. Religion scholars have yet to elucidate why this is so. A reasonable conjecture is that the emergence of the axial religions happened in conjunction with the transition from tribal myths to social cultures; a transition that was dominated by warrior males seeking wealth and asserting power.

Pervasive patriarchal bias inevitably leads to pervasive gender violence, both physically and psychologically. It entails wealth being controlled by men (women being considered "property"), and women being dominated by men and therefore excluded from roles of social and religious authority. This is not a suggestion that matriarchy would be any better than patriarchy. But it is a suggestion that patriarchy and, in particular, religious patriarchy, may well be the root cause of all other forms of patriarchal violence. This would seem to follow from the fact that patriarchy-induced gender violence affects the totality of the human population, humanity being roughly 50% male and 50% female.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, this is documented in Genesis 3:16. It is noteworthy that two possible translations of Genesis 3:16 are currently being investigated by biblical scholars. The familiar one is:

But this one has a new twist:

Then he said to the woman, "You will bear children with intense pain and suffering. And though you may desire to control your husband, he will be your master."

In other words, the "patriarchal mindset" is a mentality of domination and control, no matter who is unilaterally dominating whom. Clearly, matriarchy would be as bad as patriarchy. The Christian position is best summarized by St. Paul: "submit to one another" (Ephesians 5:21). But even St. Paul succumbs to the patriarchal mindset elsewhere in his letters.

Patriarchal bias is manifested worldwide by patterns of domestic violence (father vs. mother and children), girls aborted more frequently than boys, more illiterate girls than boys, and all manner of gender violence: rape, honor killings, biased adultery laws, etc. The reader may want to take another look at the maps discussed in the previous section to confirm the correlation between socially influential religious patriarchy and lack of progress in human development.

Recommended reading: The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan, Pope John Paul II, Pauline Press, 1997, 603 pages. There are some good online resources about this monumental piece of work. Wikipedia has a pretty good summary, Theology of the Body, and there are several websites, for example: The Online Resource for John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" and Christopher West's Web Site. For additional references, see [04].


There is an intrinsic link between religion and violence. The primary manifestation of this link is gender violence, which affects 100% of humanity and leads to all other forms of violence. In human history and, specifically, in the history of religion and violence, the one and definitive reversal of sacred violence is Jesus Christ. Experience confirms that violence is not the solution for social issues. In particular, religious institutions have utterly failed to resolve any issue by using violence. And yet, current events clearly indicate that humanity has not learned the futility of using violence for any constructive purpose.

Non-violence is our only hope but, is it a real hope or a false hope? Perhaps it is time to recognize that, between extreme violence and radical non-violence, there are degrees of violence. Explicit recognition of this fact may be helpful to foster a counter-patriarchal mindset of lesser acceptance of violence in human behavior. Closely related to violence non-acceptance is the need to manage violence. The social feasibility of managing violence is proportional to social differentiation, i.e., the structure of social relationships includes levels of authority with a mandate to keep "law and order" without using "excessive violence."

In all human institutions, the stability provided by differentiation compensates for the instability induced by violence. Institutions that reduce differentiation, even if it is for the right reason, risk an increase in institutional disruption, rivalries, and even violence. In this regard, the Christian churches that have reduced gender differentiation by including women in roles of religious authority (and are paying the price of inner tensions between those in favor of change and those in favor of continuity) are worthy of especial admiration. Jesus also paid the price for trying to balance change and continuity.

The balance between change and continuity is a balance between holding on to old differentiations which are no longer good and letting go of such differentiations are they become harmful. Conversely, the balance between change and continuity is also a matter of reinforcing old differentiations that are good and letting go of old undifferentiations as they become harmful. In religious institutions, differentiations are beneficial or harmful in terms of what they do for the glory of God and the good of souls. In social institutions, differentiations are beneficial or harmful in terms of what they do for peace, justice, human solidarity, ecological sustainability, human development. There can be no conflict between religious and social differentiations, since the glory of God is "man" ["anthropos"] fully alive (St. Irenaeus of Lyons, 2nd century CE).

Jesus had to make these difficult choices within the concrete social and religious limits of first century Palestine. His followers today must keep making the same choices, keeping in mind that his perfect non-violence had to be tempered with a healthy dosage of tough love, both in his teachings (e.g., Matthew 7:6) and in his actions (e.g., John 2:13-21). Gratefully, the voice of God keeps resounding in the events of history -- the "signs of the times." Differentiations to hold on to certainly include subsidiarity in governance, respect for ethnic and cultural diversity, respect for marriage and family values, and responsible use of human sexuality as a gift of love and a gift of life. One differentiation to let go of is gender violence and all manner of gender discrimination. Others are the addiction to extravagant consumption and abusing the human habitat.

Recommended reading: Violence and Religion in Pluralistic Societies, Konrad Raiser, Seminars on Orthodoxy and Pluralism, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2002. For additional references, see [05].


Mimetic theory is a theological anthropology initially developed by René Girard. It is focused on the link between religion and violence, and attempts to explain human behavior in terms of the mimetic desire, mimetic rivalry, conflict escalation, scapegoating, and scapegoat victimization feedback loop. System dynamics is a theory of systems initially developed by Jay Forrester and his group at MIT (late 1950s). It is focused on the link between system behavior over time and the system's feedback loop structure. Since both mimetic theory and system dynamics are concerned with linking behavior and feedback, it would seem natural to investigate the use of system dynamics to better understand mimetic behavior and, in particular, mimetic violence.

Is it possible to combine mimetic theory and system dynamics to develop a better understanding of the transition from patriarchal violence to human solidarity, ecological sustainability, and sustainable human development? This section is a very preliminary start in attempting to answer this question. Figure 1 is a hypothesis, depicted as a causal loop diagram, of the feedback loops that generate mimetic dynamics at the global level. Figure 2 isolates each one of the loops to analyze their polarity. Feedback loops with positive polarity generate and reinforce growth. Feedback loops with negative polarity are goal seeking and maintain stability.

DIAGRAM NOTATION: An arrow with a positive sign from A to B means that, if A increases, then B increases; and, if A decreases, then B decreases. An arrow with a negative sign from A to B means that, if A increases, then B decreases; and, if A decreases, then B increases. There are seven feedback loops: A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Loops with zero or an even number of minus signs have positive polarity (generate growth). Loops with an odd number of minus signs have negative polarity (maintain stability).

Figure 1 - Causal Loop Diagram

Figure 1 is inspired by the Ecocosm Paradox, diagram of Willard R. Fey and Ann C. W. Lam. It shows the feedback loops that generate population growth and consumption growth, and the consumption loops on the left are mimetic cycles. See the note under the diagram for details of notation. There are seven loops, denoted as A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Loops A and B are the most critical. As long as loop A is stronger than loop B, mimetic rivalry and violence can be managed and the addiction to consumption continues to grow at the expense of suppressing solidarity and sustainability. If and when social differentiation decreases and loop B becomes stronger than loop A, then violence becomes unmanageable and a switch to solidarity and sustainability priorities becomes inevitable. Loop A stands for gradual change. Loop B stands for cataclysmic change. Unless God grants humanity a sudden and massive conversion from self-interest to solidarity and sustainability, let us pray that loop A is never overtaken by loop B.

This is Figure 1, reduced but showing feedback loops A, B, C, D, E, F, G. In figures 2A to 2G, each of the loops is shaded and loop polarity is based on the sign changes of the outermost links.
Figure 2A: This loop has positive polarity. Human consumption fuels mimetic desire, and differentiated rivalries induce manageable violence and growth in consumption per capita.
Figure 2B: This loop has positive polarity as long as unmanageable rivalries are not strong enough to mitigate the consumerism mindset and reduce growth in consumption per capita.
Figure 2C: This loop has negative polarity as long as environmental degradation does not induce a significant reduction in the hierarchical differentiation of human institutions.
Figure 2D: This loop has negative polarity as long as environmental degradation does not induce a significant reduction in the hierarchical differentiation of human institutions.
Figure 2E: This loop has positive polarity and remains strong as long as consumption sufficiency and quality is high enough to sustain the hierarchical differentiation of human institutions.
Figure 2F: This loop has positive polarity and remains strong as long as human consumption sufficiency and quality is high enough to sustain human health, and fertility is not limited artificially.
Figure 2G: This loop has negative polarity and remains weak as long as consumption sufficiency and quality, and human health, are not impaired by severe environmental degradation.

Figure 2 - Polarity of Feedback Loops A, B, C, D, E, F, G

The polarity analysis for each loop in Figure 2 is briefly explained in the notes under each of the highlighted loops. Since this feedback loop geometry is a very preliminary hypothesis, no further discussion is attempted at this point. Research is underway to assess the Girardian integrity of this initial model. Some of the pending research questions are extremely complex. For instance, how can differentiation mechanisms be adjusted to manage both growth and stability, so that human pain and suffering is mitigated while balancing change and continuity? It is hoped that reader comments will assist in furthering this integration of mimetic theory and system dynamics. Once we have a robust hypothesis, then it might be worthwhile to translate the causal loop diagram into a simulation model for analyses of global scenarios and the outlook for making progress toward the U.N. millennium development goals (MDGs). But, as the Irish say, it's a long way to Tiperary.

Recommended reading: Trends in Sustainable Development, UNESCO, 2006. For additional References, see [06].



Prayer for World Peace

Great God, who has told us "Vengeance is mine,"
save us from ourselves,
save us from vengeance in our hearts
and the acid in our souls.
Save us from our desire to hurt as we have been hurt,
to punish as we have been punished,
to terrorize as we have been terrorized.
Give us the strength it takes to listen rather than to judge,
to trust rather than to fear,
to try again and again to make peace
even when peace eludes us.

We ask, O God, for the grace to be our best selves.
We ask for the vision to be builders of the human community
rather than its destroyers.
We ask for the humility as a people to understand
the fears and hopes of other peoples.
We ask for the love it takes to bequeath to the children
of the world to come more than the failures of our own making.
We ask for the love it takes to care for all the peoples
of Afghanistan and Iraq, or Palestine and Israel,
as well as for ourselves.

Give us depth of soul, O God, to constrain our might,
to resist the temptation of power,
to refuse to attack the attackable,
to understand that vengeance begets violence,
and to bring peace - not war - wherever we go.

For You, O God, have been merciful to us.
For You, O God, have been patient with us.
For You, O God, have been gracious to us.

And so may we be merciful
and patient, and gracious, and trusting
with these others whom you also love.

This we ask through Jesus,
the one without vengeance in his heart.
This we ask forever and ever. Amen!

Joan Chittister, OSB,
Benetvision Publications
Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania


The best kind of study is daily reading of the Bible. If you don't have a Bible, get one and start reading it, especially the gospels. Nothing can replace having your own Bible, but you may want to check the following online services:


Search the Bible by word or passage [oremus]

Girardian Reflections on the Bible [gbible]

Lookup a word or passage in the Bible
Bible in 50 versions and 35 languages


The next time you experience violence,
answer violence with non-violence
or, at least,
answer violence with lesser violence.


NOTE TO READERS: Click on the reference [##] to go back to the text.

[01] Additional references for section 1:

Mimetic Paradox and the Event of Human Origin, Eric Gans, Anthropoetics I, no. 2, December 1995.

René Girard’s Contribution to the Church of the 21st Century, Gil Bailie, Communio: International Catholic Review, Vol. XXVI, No. 1, Spring 1999.

A Brief Introduction to Generative Anthropology, Eric Gans, Anthropoetics Website, January 28, 2006.

GA and Mimetic Theory I: Violence, Eric Gans, Chronicles of Love and Resentment, No. 329: Saturday, February 18, 2006

GA and Mimetic Theory II: The Scapegoat, Eric Gans, Chronicles of Love and Resentment, No. 332: Saturday, March 18, 2006.

[02] Additional references for section 2:

So You Want To Be an Ayatollah: How Shiite clerics earn the name., Brendan I. Koerner, Slate, 6 April 2004.

Comparing Abrahamic Religions, Alliance for Jewish-Christian-Muslim Understanding, 2004.

How Biblical is the Christian Right?, Margaret M. Mitchell, Martin Marty Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion, University of Chicago, May 2006.

The Ten Commandments as a Basis for Meaningful Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dialogue, Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions, 2006.

[03] Additional references for section 3:

Revelation, the Religions, and Violence, Leo D. Lefebure, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, 2000, 244 pages.

Pluralism Project Resources by Tradition, The Pluralism Project, Harvard University, 2006.

[04] Additional references for section 4:

The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy, Allan G. Johnson, Temple University Press, 1997, 294 pages.

A Declaration of Women's Rights in Islamic Societies, Council for Secular Humanism, 2004.

Powerful Women: Sign of the Times?, Elliott Wave International, 21 April 2006.

'You're not my mother any more,' shouted Samaira. Then her family killed her, Riazat Butt, The Guardian, 15 July 2006.

Gender equality: Easy to theorize, difficult to apply, Indraswari, School of Social and Political Science, Parahyangan Catholic University, Bandung, The Jakarta Post, 10 August 2006.

Tutor says sex assaults are sacred ritual, CNN, 3 August 2006.

Asia's Missing Women, Isabelle Attané, Le Monde diplomatique, August 2006. Excerpt: "Gender discrimination now affects the demographic balance of some Asian countries, especially China and India, where there are disproportionate numbers of men to women. In some regions the birth ratio is already extreme and is likely to worsen."

Institute for Feminism and Religion. From the website: "The Institute for Feminism and Religion aims to explore a prophetic approach to feminism and religion, inclusive of many traditions and emerging consciousness in Ireland. We do this by providing opportunities for women to reclaim religion by engaging theoretically and experientially with the issues or feminist theology, ethics, spirituality and ritual."

Gender Violence Continues to Claim Its Victims, Adrián Reyes, IPS News, 14 August 2006. Excerpt: "No longer able to bear the physical and emotional violence she endured for years at the hands of her husband, Amelia finally committed suicide - just one more victim of gender violence in Mexico, which cost the lives of more than 6,000 girls and women between 1999 and 2005, according to official statistics."

Feminist Epistemologies of Ignorance, Hypatia - A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Volume 21, Number 3, Fall 2006 (forthcoming).

[05] Additional references for section 5:

The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society, Norbert Wiener, Da Capo Press, 1954, 199 pages.

Commentary on the Gospel of John, William Barclay, Volume 1 (Chapters 1 to 7), St. Andrew Press, Scotland, 1955, pp. 105-114.

Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, William Barclay, Volume 1 (Chapters 1 to 10), St. Andrew Press, Scotland, 1956, pp. 265-269.

God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion, Norbert Wiener, MIT Press, 1956, 99 pages.

Principles of Systems, Jay W. Forrester, MIT Sloan School of Management, Wright-Allen Press, 1968.

World Dynamics, Jay W. Forrester, MIT Sloan School of Management, Wright-Allen Press, 1971, 142 pages.

The roots of hatred, The Economist, 20 September 2001.

Solidarity and Subsidiarity: Complementary Principles of Community Development, Francis J. Schweigert, Journal of Social Philosophy, Vol. 33, pp. 33-44, 2002.

Sustainability: The Five Core Principles, Michael Ben-Eli, Buckminster Fuller Institute, 2006.

Polluted Skies and Global Warming Puzzle Decoded, J.R. Pegg, ENS-Newswire, 14 July 2006.

African Taliban Readying for Regional Jihad, World Sleeps, The Jawa Report, 28 July 2006.

Reconciling Economy with Ecology, Anzar A. Khuroo, Greater Kashmir Online Edition, 12 August 2006.

Cease-Fire Begins After a Day of Fierce Attacks, Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, 14 August 2006. Editor's Note: This is an example of "managed" international violence.

[06] Additional references for section 6:

Counterintuitive Behavior of Social Systems, Jay W. Forrester, Technology Review, Vol. 73, No. 3, Jan. 1971, pp. 52-68.

Modeling Domestic Violence as a Dynamic Process, Center for Interdisciplinary Excellence in System Dynamics, 1999.

The Ecocosm Paradox, Willard R. Fey and Ann C. W. Lam, Ecocosm Dynamics Ltd., 1999.

Operation Rainbow Bridge, Willard R. Fey and Ann C. W. Lam, Ecocosm Dynamics Ltd., 2000.

Intellectual Roots and Philosophy of System Dynamics, Willard R. Fey, in The United Nations Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, 2001.

Organizational Change From a New Perspective: Pattern Feedback Control in Human Systems, Willard R. Fey, Society of System Dynamics, 2002.

How to Think About Globalization, M. A. Casey, First Things, Vol 126, October 2002, pp. 47-56.

Economic Theory for the New Millennium, Jay W. Forrester, International System Dynamics Conference, New York, 21 July 2003.

Vers une formation des managers ŕ l’aide de simulateurs, Stéphane Copin, La formation au défi de la Complexité, Centre Université- Economie d' Education Permanente, Lille, France, 2003.

Limits to Growth, The 30-Year Update, Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows, 2004.

Causal Inference in the Social Sciences: Variance Theory, Process Theory, and System Dynamics , Don R. Morris, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, System Dynamics Conference, 2005.

Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments: Building Bridges Between Climate Sciences and Society, Institute for the Study of Planet Earth, University of Arizona, 2005.

System Dynamics Resources, System Dynamics Group, MIT Sloan School of Management, 2006.

System Dynamics/Systems Thinking Mega Link List, Günther Ossimitz, Institut für Mathematik, Universität Klagenfurt, Austria [Currently under Re-construction].

Societal Dimensions of Sustainability: Frameworks Document, Don Seville et al, Sustainability Consortium, Society for Organizational Learning, 2006.

State of the World 2006 - Special Focus: China and India, WorldWatch Institute, January 2006.

Analyses of the effects of global change on human health and welfare and human systems, US Climate Change Science Program, July 2006.

2006 State of the Future by Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon, ACUNU Millennium Project, 15 August 2006.

The Social Component of the Triple Bottom Line, Robert Siegel, Sustainability Consortium, Society for Organizational Learning, 2006.

Creative Gallery on Sustainability Communications, UNEP, 2006.

Trends in Sustainable Development, UNESCO, 2006.


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
V2 N3 March 2006: Patriarchy and Mimetic Violence
V2 N4 April 2006: Mimetic Violence in Patriarchal Religions
V2 N5 May 2006: Mimetic Violence in Patriarchal Religions 2
V2 N6 June 2006: Mimetic Violence in Patriarchal Religions 3
V2 N7 July 2006: Mimetic Violence in Patriarchal Religions 4

|Back to SUMMARY| |Back to OUTLINE|
|Back to SECTION 1| |Back to SECTION 2| |Back to SECTION 3|
|Back to SECTION 4| |Back to SECTION 5| |Back to SECTION 6|
|Back to SECTION 7| |Back to SECTION 8| |Back to SECTION 9|
|Link to Michael Hardin's Article|

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Solidarity, Sustainability,
and Religious Violence,
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The Pelican Symbol


The pelican is a legendary symbol of commitment to the service of others, especially those who are weak and most vulnerable. Sources:

The Physiologus, circa 400 CE
Adoro Te Devote, 13th Century
Dante's Paradiso, 14th Century
Donna Hrynkiw, 1999
Rev. William Saunders, 2003
Rev. Silvia Roberts, 2004

Call for Papers

This newsletter is now seeking scholars willing to write (pro-bono) short articles about the impacts of religious patriarchies on human solidarity and ecological sustainability, as well as critical reviews of this work from the perspective of various religious traditions, i.e., Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, etc.

Articles should be 1000 words minimum and 2000 words maximum, with no images. They should include title, author's name and affiliation, abstract, and carefully validated references. Please submit only material that has not been already published elsewhere. The author's CV should be submitted with the paper. The newsletter is published monthly, but there are no specific deadlines. Papers can be submitted at any time. If approved by the editor, they will be added as an "invited paper" when time and space allows.

Could you kindly share this invitation with your friends and associates, to see if anyone is interested?

Send all correspondence to the editor, Luis T. Gutierrez.


"Congratulations and thank you very much Luis, you are giving us a historical contribution." Evandro Ouriques, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Dated 10 July 2006.

"Hi, Luis! It is certainly an important question you raise -- why do they persist in this very specific form of unholy evil behavior? Here is another quick hypothesis. At some deep level, they know they have been lying through their teeth in order to stay in power. They may fear that inserting more women into the system may make it harder to sustain so many lies. It's a lot like the classic defense mechanisms of repression and denial. Of course, the issue deserves a lot more than either of these guesses. It is an important issue, because diagnosis is important to any hope of saving the patient. And the patient would be worth saving." Paul Werbos, Washington DC. Dated 11 July 2006.

"[T]o assume that those who believe in male eldership in the church, or who feel that a correct reading of the Bible suggests that women should generally not be in teaching positions are somehow inhibiting ecological sustainability, as you put it, I think is inappropriate. You might be interested the website Far from being reactionaries, I think there are some thoughtful people who might disagree with your stance, and might argue that there are gender appropriate roles that can actually be beautiful and lead to healthy relations between the sexes." Alex de Sherbinin, Columbia University, New York. Dated 11 July 2006.

"Whereas the theme of your article seems to be a need to dismantle the current patriarchal systems controlling religion, and on that I whole heartedly agree, your proposition as I understand it is to replace, or at least temper it, with a more matriarchal system? Perhaps instead your energies should be put into debunking all religion and showing it for what it really is, ’A Political Tool to Manipulate the Masses’. I am not by any stretch of the imagination an academic, nor am I a communist, but my observations indicate that at least since the beginning of known history the populace has been controlled by unsubstantiated religious dogma of one sort or another. What I would advocate is for people to be taught that they are responsible for their own destinies and must discard this entire gobbledegook that has and will only lead to intolerance and conflict. You will probably argue, yes but where are our moral codes going to come from? Have we not for thousands of years been living by moral codes dictated by demigods, under the guise that they came from some unknown all powerful entities that only the demigods had access to. Therefore, I say to you, do not waste your finances and energies on trying to rework something that has already failed, but look into establishing a world where tolerance of race and gender and ideas and abandonment of creed is practiced. Perhaps then you will achieve your goal of ‘human solidarity and ecological sustainability’?" Wyndham Armstrong. Dated 12 July 2006.

"Words of wisdom - I agree for the most part. Although, a gender balance of power doesn't necessarily imply much for the oppressed. Although, it will allow a certain elite group of women to access positions previously guaranteed to males, that doesn't say anything for improving the lives of the marginalized - be it class, sexuality, race, gender, etc. For one could have gender balance in power - under patriarchy, matriarchy - or some other neutrally-gendered god-head. Yet, that still implies nothing in terms of equality. Merely opening the doors to allow those in power more diversity in terms of gender, race, etc. I suppose looks good on the surface, yet it can still maintain a large group of oppressed people. Notwithstanding, I imagine cutting down the determinants/limitations to who has access is a start.... It very well could be Condi vs. Hillary [in 2008] - wouldn't that be a change from the Good Old Boys?" Earth Duarte-Trattner, Berkeley, California. Dated 12 July 2006.

"Obviously, you and I see things very differently - I'm not a supporter of Girard's theory because it appears based on various faulty assumptions, including the fact that human beings are primarily motivated by power - and that violence is something that one powerful group imposes upon a less powerful group. Again, this seems reductive and overly simplistic to me - but it does have some heuristic value - even as it applies to the Catholic Church. On the other hand, I do believe that the Holy Spirit is capable of working through a "patriarchal" structure - primarily because that structure would not have survived for 2000 years were it not the work of God. Meanwhile - the true power of the Church is exhibited, not so much by the hierarchy - which we must respect and recognize as appointed by the Holy Spirit, but by the Mother Theresa's, and the Dorothy Days, and the Francis of Assisi, who guide us in the living of our faith." Rev. Robert Roberson, Indianapolis, Indiana. Dated 19 July 2006.

"I hope you've found my book, Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace, interesting or useful or maybe even inspirational. You are probably aware that I expanded on the last third of the book, which considers what we can do to speed a campaign to end war, by creating a website entitled A Future Without War, Questpath Publishing, 2006. On the website I consider nine cornerstones upon which to anchor any campaign to end the wasteful, armed, killing conflicts that so plague us." Judith Hand, San Diego, California. Dated 20 July 2006.

"Hi, my name is Maren Cummings and I volunteer with a group called the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) and we are working in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Student Farmworker Alliance (SFA) on health initiative and student campaign solidarity work. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is an organization of farm workers who recently won a campaign for worker's rights against Taco Bell and are now working on a campaign against McDonalds for worker's rights. And I know that in addition to SEAC ad SFA, the CIW also has solidarity support from an inter-faith coalition of religious groups in Immokalee, FL. You can check out more at,, and" Dated 6 August 2006.


January 22-23, 2007, 9 am - 9 pm, Mennonite Central Committee's Welcoming Place, Akron, PA. From the conference flyer: "How shall we understand the death of Jesus? Is it necessary to speak of the wrath of God when discussing atonement? These questions have been asked and answered many times throughout the history of the church. In today's world with our growing awareness of the dangers of violence, sacrifice, and militant religion, the death of Jesus need no longer be construed with divine violence. This event will engage these questions with plenty of time for interaction, discussion and dialogue so that we can process what we are learning. Come, expecting an invigorating and enlivening conversation!" Speakers and their books/essays include: J. Denny Weaver (The Non-Violent Atonement), Anthony Bartlett (Cross Purposes), Peter Schmiechen (Saving Power: Theories of Atonement and Forms of the Church), Sharon Baker (By Grace: An Economy of Atonement), David Eagle (Anthony Bartlett's Concept of Abyssal Compassion). For more information contact Michael Hardin.

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.

Visit the UNEP's Creative Gallery on Sustainability Communications website. Free download of resource kits for: Resource Kit on Sustainable Consumption & Production. Advertising, Energy Savings , Eco-design, Lifestyles, Food & Hunger, Housing, Leisure, Mobility, New ICTs, Textiles, Tourism, Water.

Visit the Globalis: An Interactive World Map website. Globalis is an interactive world atlas where you decide what is to be displayed on the map: agriculture and land use, climate, economy, education, environment, gender equality, health, human development, population, technology, and water. Globalis aims to create an understanding for similarities and differences in human societies, as well as how we influence life on the planet. Globalis is a collaboration between the Norwegian UN Association, UNEP/GRID-Arendal, UNU/Global Virtual University, the University College of Hedmark and the INTIS schools. The project is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. Maps can be downloaded free of charge.

Visit the Maps of the World website. This website provides a large number of maps, for example: world, regional, and country political maps; world, regional, and country economic maps; world, regional, and country religion maps; world continents; world country groupings; world time zones; world cities; world geographies; world travel and leisure destinations; world sports; world cultural and historical centers; and 50 thematic maps. Note that this is a commercial site, so the maps are not free.

Visit the Diaspora: Religions in a Globalising World website. It provides information on available studies, journals, projects and researchers in the field. The diaspora mailing list is an information channel for new publications, funding, positions, conferences and other events. Areas of interest include religion in diaspora, religion and international migration, globalisation and transnationalism, and the study of religion in local settings. Hence, an interest for religious mapping projects is central, as they reveal the many forms that traditions take once situated in a new context. There is also an interest toward the settlement processes of religious groups, religion and integration, racism and ethnicity. Beyond settlement, there are questions of migrant generations, mixed marriages, gender, religiosity, etc. The aim of the website is to promote the study of these and related issues, and to create debate and connections between researchers. Contact: Tuomas Martikainen, Abo, Finland.

Visit the Ecocosm Dynamics website. Learn about the "ecocosm paradox" and the "rainbow bridge." The Ecocosm Dynamics Ltd. Links Database has been updated recently and now includes 1314 selected websites. The links are structured as a relational database. There are five columns of information for each link: discipline, sub-discipline, institutional source, content category, and website name/description.

United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

The Millennium Development Goals are listed below:

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:


Millennium Project

State of the Future
The Millennium Project of the American Council for the United Nations University is proposes the following 15 questions on the global challenges facing humanity.

1. How can sustainable development be achieved for all?
2. How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict?
3. How can population growth and resources be brought into balance?
4. How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes?
5. How can policymaking be made more sensitive to global long-term perspectives?
6. How can the global convergence of information and communications technologies work for everyone?
7. How can ethical market economies be encouraged to help reduce the gap between rich and poor?
8. How can the threat of new and reemerging diseases and immune micro-organisms be reduced?
9. How can the capacity to decide be improved as the nature of work and institutions change?
10. How can shared values and new security strategies reduce ethnic conflicts, terrorism, and the use of weapons of mass destruction?
11. How can the changing status of women help improve the human condition?
12. How can transnational organized crime networks be stopped from becoming more powerful and sophisticated global enterprises?
13. How can growing energy demands be met safely and efficiently?
14. How can scientific and technological breakthroughs be accelerated to improve the human condition?
15. How can ethical considerations become more routinely incorporated into global decisions?

The 2006 State of the Future report has just been released:

2006 State of the Future

For more information:
AC/UNU Millennium Project
2006 State of the Future
Millennium Project Network
State of the Future Synopsis

To submit your feedback or suggestions on ths work, send them to AC/UNU with a copy to Jerome Clayton.

Global Change

Dr. Global Change

Ask Doctor Global Change

Got a question?

Visit Doctor Global Change, resident expert at the site of the Global Change Research Information Office (GCRIO).

Source: GCRIO

Gender Balance in Religion

Women in Roles of
Religious Authority

Rabbi Sally Priesand,
Monmouth Reform Temple,
Tinton Falls, New Jersey
Source: Havel's House of History

Rabbi Sally Olins,
Temple Isaiah,
Palm Springs, California
Source: Jose Omar Ornelas,
The Desert Sun

Rabbi Chava Koster,
Village Temple,
New York City
Source: Village Temple

Rabbi Haviva Ner-David,
Jerusalem, Israel
Source: Jerusalem Post

Gender Balance in Society

Women in Roles of
Secular Authority

Debra Langford
Time Warner's Exec Director,
Strategic Talent Management
Source: Black Enterprise

Yayoi Yamaguchi
President and CEO,
Sanyo Management Co., Ltd.
Source: Women Executives Japan

Religious Patriarchies

Jewish Patriarchy

Before Common Era (BCE)

".... There is no longer male or female;
for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."

Christian Patriarchy

Council of Nicea I (325 CE)
Source: Wikipedia

First Crusade (1095-1099 CE)
Source: Wikipedia

Vatican Council II (1962-1965)
Source: Wikipedia

Common Era (CE)

Islamic Patriarchy

Mohammed Conquers Mecca (630 CE)
Source: Wikipedia

Ayatollah means "Sign of God"
Source: Wikipedia

Islamic Jihad
Source: Wikipedia

Since 630 Common Era (CE)

"Some think it's holding on
that makes one strong;
sometimes it's letting go."

Sylvia Robinson
American singer, musician, and producer


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Copyright © 2006 by Luis T. Gutierrez


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