Girard is a thinker who brought to my awareness that if the tension of world is not dealt with then the "social fabric will burst". The dominate way we deal with tension in the world is by scapegoating someone or something. Through the discrediting, removal or killing of the scapegoat the tension is released and the group is brought to a temporary peace. But because this "remedy" requires ongoing violence towards the people within the system , Girard reminds us what Jesus said, "a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand." Thus this cycle of violence is leading us toward destruction and not toward the promised peace.
In order for this system to work the group needs to be unified against the scapegoat. The majority of people have to believe that "this" or "that" is the reason there is tension in the community. You cannot have a witch hunt if there is not a mob who believes that some (not all) people are witches.
If unity of the mob in their disdain of the scapegoat is required for the cycle to "work" then what would happen if the group could not unify against an agreed upon scapegoat?
Would this mean that we would have to deal with our tensions in ways other than by identifying and destroying a scapegoat?
When I was in seminary I was trained that to make changes in the church one must be slow because too much change too fast creates it hard for the church. We were told that "change is hard" and so any change must be approached with care and follow up. Over the past year I wondered if the slow rate of change actually gives people a ready made scapegoat that people all agree is "the problem".
When there is one change in the system it is clear to everyone that the change is being made and then everyone is focused only on that one change. Everyone who is angry about the change builds a backing because everyone is focused on this one change. Those who are not angered over the change can be caught up in the growing frenzy as they see what looks like a growing number of people who are really upset.
Soon enough, there is a mob unified against the change and there you have a mob against a scapegoat. And the mob will do what mobs do to scapegoats.
The church I am in ministry with has gone through a number of changes one after the other. Staff changes, worship changes, infrastructure changes, structural changes, leadership changes all happening over the course of the year. What has become clear at this stage in the game is the grumblings that I hear are minimal and fractured. That is to say, there is not a unified mob.
Does multiple changes refract the tension in the community so that the community cannot rally against a single scapegoat? And if the community cannot rely upon the scapegoat mechanism to resolve the tension, does the community find healthier ways to deal with the tension?