Speaking Peace in a World of Conflict
News & Events


"Sacrifice in Life, Love and Literature" 


The Second Conference of the

Australian Girard Seminar 

13th-14th January 2012
St Mary’s College, the University of Melbourne

Keynote Speaker

Professor Ann Anstell
University of Notre Dame

Dr. Joel Hodge, 
Australian Catholic University, 

Upcoming Conferences and Meetings
Relating to the Theory of René Girard
Other links to Conferences and Events, Research Partners, Member Pages, and Mimetic Theory Resources
see CoV&R home page, 


Previous Conferences

Annual COV&R Conference 2011 
at University of Messina/Italy, June 15 – 18

Topic: Disorder/Order in History and Politics
For further information contact Maria Stella Barberi:

Annual COV&R Conference 2010 
at University of Notre Dame/USA, June 30 – July 4

Topic: Transforming Violence: Cult, Culture, and Acculturation
For further information contact Margaret Pfeil:

COV&R sessions at the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting, 
November 7-10, 2009 in Montréal, Quebec/Canada
AAR 2009 conference website
Christian Spirituality Group – Call for Papers
For further information contact Martha J. Reineke:

"From Animal to Human: Rethinking the Evolutionary Interface"

An interdisciplinary symposium revisiting Darwin's science of origins and exploring the evolutionary 'Big Picture' with René Girard at St John's College, 
University of Cambridge/UK, October 16 – 17, 2009
Conference website


The Colloquium invites those interested in exploring, critiquing and developing the mimetic model of the relationship between violence and religion in the genesis and maintenance of culture, to become members. Annual dues are US $45. Discounts are available for students and for those residing in soft currency areas who find it difficult to pay. Please apply to the Executive Secreatry Ann Astell, e-mail:  Membership includes voting rights, subscription to the COV&R Bulletin, to Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture, research collaboration and discussion, and opportunities to support the aims of the Colloquium.

You may acccess the Bulletin online by clicking here.

I am pleased to report that the traffic to this site has 
more than doubled in the last twelve months. 
To those of  my readers who helped to spread the word, I say 
"thank you".


My book-length inquiry from an anthropological and theological perspective into the fragility of the human rights system is now available from (click on the image) and other online distributors. 

I argue that the human rights crisis is neither an accident nor a shortfall in implementation but the result of collective structures of civilization itself.



German Church Spearheads Holocost Rememberance Day

   The small town of Tubingen in Germany, expelled all of its Jewish residents in 1477, becoming a place where anti-Jewish doctrines thrived, most notoriously during WWII. But now, in addition to a tiny Jewish community that has returned to the town, the Tubingen Offensive Stadtmission church (TOS),  has grown over the last 20 years to some 250 members who all have a special love for Israel and the Jewish people.

The TOS church is actually a large tent built on top of railroad tracks that once deported Jews from the town to camps throughout Germany and Poland, but the spirit of the church is founded on acknowledgment and repentance for the sins of their forefathers.

Part of that repentance was the March of Life organized by the TOS last month around Holocaust Remembrance Day. The march by these German Christians was aimed at healing the wounds of the past in order to build relationships that will last into the future. The route followed that of a death march that took place in early 1945 just months before the end of World War II and covered some 350 kilometres from Bisingen to Dachau."

Before the start of the march, four TOS members stood before the assembly and told difficult and emotional stories of the Nazi past of their families. Barbel Pfeiffer, who now sings as part of the church worship group known as Be'er Sheva, spoke of how she only recently discovered that her grandfather was a SS guard who beat Jews and other prisoners as they worked to make tanks in a factory. She and three others then followed the example of Jesus and humbly washed the feet of several of the Jewish guests, including some Holocaust survivors, many of them weeping. The Jewish guests then in turn washed the feet of their German hosts, signalling their forgiveness."

Notably, there was a man from Syria (whose name is withheld for safety reasons), who is quoted as saying that he felt that if Germans and Jews could be reconciled, the same model could also be applied between Arabs and Jews.

Children of TOS were involved as well. Thomas Waldhart, one of the march organizers and in charge of the children's ministry at TOS, said, "It's very important to teach them what happened here in our land, and what we can do for reconciliation." Rose Price, survivor of six camps, including Dachau, embraced and comforted several of the Germans that had broken down into tears. One TOS leader, Stephan Ahrens of Hamburg, said that the march had achieved its goal " confront the memories of the past and talk about them, breaking the veil of silence."

                                   PEACEMAKING IN ACTION

                  Arab Town Shows Solidarity with Israel

Amid the talk of war and tension that constantly surrounds the nation of Israel, there is a least one example of solidarity coming out of that nation. Villagers in the Arab-Israeli town of A-Taibeh have decided to show their solidarity with Israel by actually painting the dome of their local mosque in blue and white—Israel's national colours.

Said A-Taibeh's mayor, Hisham Zuabi, "We are residents of Israel. Our religion encourages love and closeness among nations. Jews, Muslims, we are all cousins, right?" he added, "We decided to paint the mosque's dome, the most important, dear, and holy site for us, in the national colours. We are all citizens of the state of Israel. As far as we are concerned, there is no difference here between Jews, Muslims, and Christians."

Zuabi said that village residents don't fear reprisals because of their decision, but rather they hope it will serve to unite Arabs and Jews. "The goal is purification, coexistence," said Zoabi. "A Jew who enters the mosque will not feel hostility, but rather will feel at home." 

Source: Haaretz 

                        Science, Religion and the New Worldview

    Twenty years ago, in one of his speeches, Pope John Paul II addressed the issue of human culture, thinking of it as a synthesis in which “the impressive whole of scientific knowledge would find its meaning within the framework of an integral vision of man in his universe, that is, of the ordo rerum.” Through a constructive interchange of knowledge and understanding, science and religion—each in its own way—are to affect human civilization for good. This vision is taking form today. 

Scientists and theologians find themselves more than ever in a cultural context that favors such an exchange. The myth that these two great culture-shaping forces are opposed to each other is dying and a new worldview is emerging. On either side of the religion-science dialogue people are busy building bridges. Furthermore, as science becomes more aware of its own limits through discoveries that prompt questions beyond science, religion is called to greater rigor in its epistemological engagement with science.

A brilliant example of this pattern of exchange was penned by Professor Mariano Artigas of the University of Navarra, Spain. In The Mind of the Universe (published by the Templeton Foundation), Artigas articulates the new worldview by examining the presuppositions as well as the values of the scientific enterprise and relating them to the purposive action of transcendent God in his creation. Artigas argues that it is possible to conceive of “divine action as the cause of the very nature of the material components of our world, including their interaction, patterning, and successive steps of self-organization.” 

On this view, God acts from within his creation and his creatures, “providing them with their being, potentialities, and effectiveness.” Because this dynamically created order “corresponds to God’s purposive action”, it brings about our world through “intrinsic relations necessary to produce the results we know.” [p. 327-8]. If natural and human creativity is rooted in God, Artigas concludes [p. 342], “We can represent our world as an unfinished symphony where we have a role to play. We can even understand that God permits the existence of evil so that we may really play our role with freedom, responsibility, and merit.” 

This book is an important contribution to the religion-science dialogue. 

The Testimony of Moonwalkers

   A film documenting the Apollo moon project using rare footage from NASA contains numerous spiritual references pointing to the existence of God, ASSIST News Service reports. "In the Shadow of the Moon" opened September 7th and even garnered an award at the Sundance Film Festival. "It's a film about the experience of going to the moon told by the people who went -- in their own words," says director David Sington. "They wanted to organize a reunion of moonwalkers. That grew into an idea of doing a reunion on film." The 10 astronauts -- now in their seventies -- come across as surprisingly reflective and human, speaking of the profound impression they gained from walking on the lunar surface and gazing back at Earth. Charlie Duke, the 10th man to walk on the moon, makes an explicit declaration of his faith in Jesus Christ on camera. Edgar Mitchell and Gene Cernan described profound spiritual experiences, but not within a specific Christian context. Cernan discovered the universe seemed to have purpose behind it, that there must be a Creator who stands above the religions of mankind. "Edgar Mitchell's experience profoundly changed and shaped his whole life," notes Sington. "He had a moment of epiphany -- suddenly grasping who he is in relation to the universe."


Christmas 2011

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end. 

God becomes Man:
The Impossible becomes possible.

The Creator of the World becomes a Child:
Peace becomes possible.

The King of all Kings becomes poor:
Justice becomes possible.

The Ruler of all Worlds suffers our hostility: 
Love becomes possible.

God as an Infant in a Crib changes the World.

Wishing you 
A Happy and Holy Christmas,

Peter Stork


News in Brief

Author and philosopher Charles Taylor was recently awarded the Templeton Prize

In a statement at the Templeton Prize News Conference, Taylor noted that the barriers between the contempo-rary culture of science on the one hand and of the domain of the spirit on the other are disappearing. They are not only unfounded, but also crippling as they impede crucial developments of further insights. 

Source: Metanexus Institute 

In its Series 

Studies in Violence, Mimesis, and Culture 

Michigan University Press has published the papers of a Conference held at Stanford University in July 2004 under the title Politic and Apocalypse

This volume contains seven articles, including a new article by Rene Girard, plus a lenthy introduction by the editor, Robert Hamerton-Kelly.

On June 27, 2008, Rene Girard was made an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of St. Andrews.


The Archbishop of Canterbury claims that British society has become "fantastically materialistic" and "deeply unforgiving". People have become suspicious and mistrustful of the Government, disillusioned with its failure to fulfill its promises to improve the education and health services, and feel isolated from the political process, he argues. Rowan Williams says that cynicism and greed are now the pervading sentiments of the country's culture.
His comments came as he gave a passionate defence of the importance of Christian beliefs. As leader of the Church of England, the Archbishop has become increasingly critical of the Government over the past year. He has attacked its decision to go to war in Iraq as "morally flawed" and "short-sighted", accused it of undermining marriage and condemned its prison policy as "lethally dangerous". 

 Source: Australian Prayer Network, October 2007

Useful References

A bibliography on Girard's theory is maintained by the Institute of Systematic Theology of the University of Innsbruck. 

"War Against Terroism?" Critical comments on terrorism, violence and war.

"Are the Gospels Mythical?" by René Girard

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