[René ]Girard thinks that the power of Christianity lies in “unveiling” the scapegoat mechanism. Here unveiling is, quite literally, pulling back the curtain to see that, behind all the smoke and sounds is just a small man, pulling the levers. The gospels have the same structure as myths, but an entirely different perspective—a key issue for Girard. In myths we are given a scapegoat whose death promises both to heal fractured communities and to appease the gods. Yet in the gospel story we gradually learn that God is the victim, and that the victim’s blood only appeased humans, not God. Having a real event told in this particular way intends to foster conversion. Though we think of the gospels as telling a story about God, Girard follows Simone Weil in showing that the gospels are as much about us (humans) as about God. And the true power of the story, or the conversion, lies in the permanent alteration in the way we read not only the gospel story, but everything else. Instead of reading through a sacrificial lens, we read through a forgiving lens, realizing that we, both on an individual and on a social level, have been involved in a multi-generational process of victimizing and expelling others. And that God has nothing to do with this violence.
In hindsight, I understand Black Elk’s words: “I think I have told you, but if I have not, you must have understood, that a man who has a vision is not able to use the power of it until after he has performed the vision on earth for the people to see…. It is from understanding that power comes; and the power in the ceremony was in understanding what it meant; for nothing can live well except in a manner that is suited to the way the sacred Power of the World lives and moves.”