Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Peace and Truth - The Peace that Convicts Us of Our Lies

The one symbol most often identified with Jesus and his Church is the cross. Today we celebrate The Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The cross is a sign of suffering, a sign of human cruelty at its worst. But by Christ’s love shown in the Paschal Mystery, it has become the sign of triumph and victory, the sign of God, who is love itself. Pope Benedict XVI wrote: "In one respect the cross does have a terrible aspect that we ought not to remove... To see that the purest of men, who was more than a man, was executed in such a grisly way can make us frightened of ourselves. But we also need to be frightened of ourselves and out of our self-complacency. Here, I think, Luther was right when he said that man must first be frightened of himself so that he can then find the right way. However, the cross doesn't stop at being a horror... because the one who looks down on us from the cross is not a failure, a desperate man, not one of the horrible victims of humanity. For this crucified man says something different from Spartacus and his failed adherents, because, after all, what looks down at us from the cross is a goodness that enables a new beginning in the midst of life's horror." As my friend, Gil Bailie surmises that if you or I were on the cross, looking down at our persecutors, we would have seen ravenous wolves. Jesus looks down and see lost sheep. In this 'difference' of looks - (1) the apparent peace we grasp at by expelling our enemies versus (2) the look of Real Truth and Goodness, is revealed the grace of His Peace. Pope Benedict XVI continues:
Peace convicts us of our lies. It brings us out of our comfortable indifference into the struggle and pain of the truth. And it is only thus that true peace can come into being, in place of the apparent peace, beneath which lie the hidden hypocrisy and all kinds of conflict. Truth is worth pain and even conflict. I may not just accept a lie in order to have quiet. For it is not the first duty of a citizen, or of a Christian, to seek quiet; but rather it is that standing fast by what is noble and great, which is what Christ has given us and which can reach as far as suffering, as far as a struggle that ends in martyrdom - and exactly in that way of peace. Christ embodies the great and undiluted loving-kindness of God. He comes to help us bear the load. He does not do this simply by taking away from us the pain of being human; that remains heavy enough. But we are no longer carrying it on our own; he is carrying it with us. Christ has nothing to do with comfort, with banality, yet we find in him that inner calm that comes from knowing that we are being supported by an ultimate kindness and an ultimate security. We see that the entire structure of the message of Jesus is full of tension; it is an enormous challenge. Its nature is such that it always has to do with the Cross. Anyone who is not ready to get burned, who is not at least willing for it to happen, will not come near. But we can always be sure that it is there that we will meet true lovingkindness, which helps us, which accepts us - and which does not merely mean well toward us, but which will in fact ensure that all things go well with us.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Founding Fathers' Vision for Independence Day

The following Independence Day meditation is from The Magnificat by Anne Husted Burleigh, author and scholar on John Adams.

"In God’s plan of history—that mysterious drama that unites God’s providential care with our freedom –there are particular moments that reveal with glittering clarity that God is in charge. For Americans, Independence Day marks the anniversary of such a moment.

"Nearly two and a half centuries ago, on July 4, 1776, members of the Continental Congress approved  Jefferson’s magnificent Declaration of Independence, proclaiming “these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

"For the first time a nation sprang forth, not simply from the bond of people living together in a place for years, but rather from an idea, the principle of the truth of the human person as sacred and unrepeatable. The Declaration acknowledged our origin as beings made by God, with rights God himself gave us. It is God’s law—his plan—that declares unequivocally that in our creation by the divine hand rests our equal liberty and the rights inherent in us a God’s creatures. Our liberty arises not from us, but from the one who made us.

"Independence Day Honors not our own artificial schemes of liberty and quality but the founding  principle of natural law that alone protects who we are: each one of us chosen, loved, and created as  free beings by God our Father. No other authority will do: nothing other than divine truth provides proper grounding for ordered liberty. On God’s authority, then, the American founders in 1776, “with a firm reliance on the Protection of divine providence,” ventured forth in the great experiment, mutually pledging “to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.” 

By Anne Husted Burleigh

Anne is a long-time writer, among whose books is a biography of one of the American founders, John Adams. She and her husband live in Cincinnati near their children and grandchildren.




Friday, June 25, 2021

Bishop Barron - How to Discern God's Will for My Life

A great resource from Bishop Robert Barron and the folks at Word on Fire. 

     "As a priest, and now a bishop, I hear often from many people searching for God’s direction in their lives. They wonder, what does God want me to do with my life? How can I be faithful to God in my day to day decisions? How can I hear God and be sensitive to his promptings? We all ask these questions. They are a normal part of the Christian life. That’s why Brandon Vogt and I recently devoted a whole episode of our podcast, “The Word on Fire Show,” to exploring these questions. Below you’ll find an edited transcript of the show so you can read it slowly, at your own pace, and reflect on how God is leading you in your life. In the end, all discernment boils down to one ultimate goal: finding the path of greatest love. Let’s seek that path together."

Listen to Bishop Barron discuss the context of the book HERE!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

What Does it Mean to Believe IN?

 A wonderful meditation from The Magnificat.

From “Believing That” to “Believing In”

In the Gospel of John, the personal nature of the act of faith is stressed by the very use of the verb “to believe.” In the Gospel, we encounter the expression “to believe,” which means to lend credence to or hold to be true. For instance, to believe Scripture (Jn 2:22), or Moses, or Christ (Jn 5:46). We also encounter the expression “to believe that,” meaning to be convinced that, or just to believe. For instance, to believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God, that he is the Christ, that the Father has sent him.


But alongside these well-known usages, there is one unknown to profane language yet most dear to the Evangelist, and that is the expression “to believe in,” as in the sentence: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me (Jn 14:1). Believe here means: have faith in, entrust yourself to the person you believe in, build your own life on that person. It indicates a total and unconditional trust that is to replace all human insecurity. A trust in consequence of which the heart can never again be troubled by anything. Jesus asks the same kind of trust for himself that God asked of his people in the Old Testament.


Believing in the Son of God is something different and more than believing that Jesus is the Son of God…. As regards the former, there are all sorts of degrees and you would never finish progressing through them. In other words, you can always trust more in Christ, by surrendering yourself to him more and more and losing yourself in him, until faith in the Son of God becomes the whole reason for your life. Like Paul, who could say: The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20).

Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, o.f.m. cap.

Cardinal Cantalamessa is a Capuchin Franciscan friar and the preacher to the papal household. [From Jesus Christ: The Holy One of God, Alan Neame, Tr. © 1991, St. Paul Publications, Slough, UK. All rights reserved.]

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Vast Expanse Between the Good Life and the Holy Life - A Reflection by Father Donald Haggerty

 


The vast separation between the good life and the holy life is always far more than we realize. The difference is not evident simply in the exterior activity of life. The generous accomplishments of a good person may outshine the limited works of the holy person. What distinguishes the holy person is the interior quality of a soul seeking God, and this is often not seen so visibly. The good life will always be observable to some degree, but whether or not a life is truly holy can easily be concealed in its essential truth. The most important acts of a holy life take place in secret, within quiet depths of the soul. And these most important acts are the offerings it makes for others. There is no great love of God unless a soul is great in offering itself for others. And this begins in the intensity of its prayer, where God alone sees.

The word holiness ought not to be tossed about too lightly, as though the reality were easily reached. There is a danger that an overworked and casual evocation of holiness as the goal of life reduces the immense challenge of giving all to God to a manageable habit of steady, low-cost generosities. Dorothy Day kept on her bedside table a striking phrase of Dostoevsky that conveys, by contrast, the starker reality of a true offering: “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”  It is precisely the harsh and dreadful nature of sacrificial love that makes such love and the offering that accompanies it most fruitful for the salvation of souls.

A task in prayer that must be repeated with regularity: to search for the deeper solitary region of the heart where a single word spoken in silence has more impact on our soul than hours of replete eloquence taking place at the shallows of life.

 ~ A Reflection by Father Donald Haggerty, ‘The Contemplative Hunger’

Check out Fr Haggerty at Ignatius Press HERE.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Prayer Draws You Into New Life - Into Christ


Colossians 3:4 - When Christ, who is your life, appears...

Prayer is to forge us into the likeness of the beloved, and thus it is bringing Christ to life in the believer. This is the mystery of prayer - bringing Christ to life in us, thus bringing Christ’s image of His Father to life in us. This is the Christian idea of centering, as a key ingredient for prayer, which means a focus on Christ to where it draws your whole being into Christ. 

Colossians 3:4 - When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

At some point in my life prayer became, not so much talking to, or reflecting on, meditating, contemplating for achieving union, to or with God..., yes all these things and more are part of prayer, but prayer became, Imitatio Christi - the imitation of Christ - a place within where my "I" in the here and now is continually being formed and reformed by God. 

Here is beautiful gift on prayer from Sr Ruth Burrows:

"Prayer is not just one function in life, not even the most important function; it is life itself. We are truly alive, truly human, only when our whole life is prayer."

Sister Ruth is a Carmelite nun at Quidenham in Norfolk, England. She is the author of a number of bestselling books.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Interdividual - We Are A Colony of Others

 Interdividual rather than individual best describes human beings and the word points to a term that we may be more familiar with, interconnectedness. 

Let’s use the aspen tree for a glimpse into this idea of being interdividual. The leaves of an aspen have an unusual ability to twist and bend to protect the trees from severe winds. Their twisting motion helps the tree to dissipate the energy more uniformly throughout the forest canopy - to reduce the stress on the tree. Additionally, the quaking movement is thought to aid in the tree’s growth, because the constant movement increases the intake of air by the leaves. Lastly, moving the leaves increases the ability for sunlight to shine on the lower leaves, thereby improving the rate of photosynthesis for the trees (that is trees - plural)


But wait, perhaps we should say TREE (interdividaul).

Aspens are unique in that a forest of trees can be actually one tree. Aspens grow in large colonies derived from a single seedling and spread the roots to create new trees. The new saplings may appear as far as 30-40 meters from the parent tree, yet they are a part of the same system. The individual trees may live 40-150 years above the ground but the roots can live for thousands of years. There is one colony in Utah that is believed to be over 80,000 years old! Aspen colonies can even survive forest fires because their roots are so well protected.

And because the colony is actually one system, they are quite generous to what could appear to be ”another tree”. If a tree on one side of the forest is thirsty, the trees will work in unison to pass water through the root system to the ailing tree from one that is in an area where water is more abundant. If another needs nutrients or minerals, again it will be passed through the root system from one tree to the one in need. 

One of the most famous of quaking aspens' vast underground root systems is a network called Pando (Latin for "I spread", and also known as the Trembling Giant). It is estimated to cover about 107 acres, weighs about 6,600 tons and dates back 80,000 years - making it a contender to be one of the Earth's oldest and heaviest organisms. Trees within the root system grow and die, but these are replaced with fresh growth. The entire colonial organism, which is said to be derived from a single male plant, contains about 47,000 stems.

Interdividual is a term coined by René Girard and it means, in general that we desire according to the desire of the other and which is often referred to as “mimetic”. There has always been some other who precedes us and which surrounds us, and which moves us to desire, to want and to act. We may acknowledge this when we see it illustrated in the way the entertainment industry creates celebrities, or the advertising profession manages to make particular objects or brands desirable. Just observing yourself in the mob of consumers on Black Friday. 


What becomes challenging for us is the claim that in fact it is not some of our desires that are highly mimetic, but the whole way in which we humans are structured by desire.


Girard has pointed out, much like the interconnectedness of the Aspen tree, that humans are those animals in which even basic biological instincts (which of course exist, and are not the same thing as desire) are ever-bond to the other. In fact, our capacity to receive and deal with our instincts is derived from a hugely developed capacity for imitation which sets our species apart from our nearest primate relatives.


As a result, gestures, language and memory are not only things which “we” learn, as though there were an “I” that was doing the learning. Rather it is the case that, through this body being imitatively drawn into the life of all those before us, gesture, language and memory form an “I” that is in fact one of the indications of the "social" other. Thus being highly malleable, it is not the “I” that has desires, it is desire that forms and sustains the “I”. The “I” is something like a snapshot, in time, of all the many relationships which preexist it and which it is a mirror image.


The image laid out here, of the person mimetic, is always reaching outward and inevitably getting caught in entanglements - physically, psychologically and every which way. As we twist and turn in our attempts to free ourselves from another, these very movements become highly contagious for others who often enjoin the swirling of estrangement until escalating into violence. The issue for restoring community is how do we break the spiraling cycle of violent contagion - bringing calm after the chaos? Instead of trying to break free from the other, thinking that is the way to become free, how do we, like the aspen tree, become part of the support system?

Not wanting to leave a post dangling, check out this link to an audio presentation The Scapegoat: René Girard's Anthropology of Violence and Religion. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Contemplative Journey to the Place Hidden in the Heart of God - Fr Donald Haggerty

The Contemplative Journey

“When I did not seek him with self-love, he gave ­himself to me without being sought” (Jacques Maritain). A place hidden in the heart of God awaits contemplatives as they renounce any desire for status or privilege with God and leave that ambition smoldering in ashes. This renunciation has a significant consequence in the ­inner realms of silent prayer. The effect is to hide the soul more easily from itself. We lose interest in self and have no need to gain anything for ourselves in prayer. Without a desire to seek anything for self or to advance in some manner in our own estimation, a poverty takes hold in us and becomes, as it were, an ordinary place for prayer…. We learn then more often to discard at the doorstep of prayer all traces of desire for an acquisition of any kind in prayer. All desire to possess something for ourselves fades and disappears. The desire for gratification and favor from God becomes unnecessary, cast away as unimportant, no longer pursued.


The internal poverty may in time offer us a different treasure. There is now a new attraction within our soul. We are beginning to know the drawing power of the divine presence in the poor emptiness of prayer. We do not perceive his presence in any experience we can carry away as a memory from prayer. It is confirmed more in the desires we take with us from silent prayer to intercede for others in spiritual need. It may be that the truest sign of favor from God is a hidden union with his divine thirst for souls. And this union we can indeed sense more and more every day.

Father Donald Haggerty

From the Magnificat. Father Haggerty, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is currently serving at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. / From Contemplative Enigmas: Insights and Aid on the Path to Deeper Prayer. © 2020, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA. www.ignatius.com. Used with permission.

In Fr Haggerty's book, Contemplative Enigmas he writes just prior to the reflection above:

Precisely when God seems most hiddenour attention is often thrown back painfully upon ourselves. In one sense, this tendency must be ruthlessly opposed.  In another sense, it must be treated gently, by a calm turning in the direction of Our Lord... with the conviction that he is always in our company. Despite every false thought of his absence, he is close to us, waiting always for our heart's next expression of longing, whether in word or in silence.

Friday, February 12, 2021

"Ephphatha" - "Be opened


Ephphatha - Be opened
I am providing the readings of today Feb 12, 2021 below. The first reading is important because it opens us up to the reflection and then the question: We are going to be opening ourselves up to someone, so just who are you listening to today? The reflection follows the readings.

Reading I Gn 3:1-8

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the LORD God had made.

The serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?”
The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’”

But the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it;

and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

When they heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.


Gospel

Mk 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. 

He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,

Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)

And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. 
He ordered them not to tell anyone.  But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. 
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

______________________________________________________

Pope Benedict XVI reflection

“There is not only a physical deafness which largely cuts people off from social life; there is also a "hardness of hearing" where God is concerned, and this is something from which we particularly suffer in our own time. Put simply, we are no longer able to hear God - there are too many different frequencies filling our ears. What is said about God strikes us as pre-scientific, no longer suited to our age. Along with this hardness of hearing or outright deafness where God is concerned, we naturally lose our ability to speak with him and to him. And so we end up losing a decisive capacity for perception. We risk losing our inner senses. This weakening of our capacity for perception drastically and dangerously curtails the range of our relationship with reality in general. The horizon of our life is disturbingly foreshortened...

“The Gospel tells us that Jesus put his fingers in the ears of the deaf-mute, touched the sick man's tongue with spittle and said "Ephphatha" - "Be opened". The Evangelist has preserved for us the original Aramaic word which Jesus spoke, and thus he brings us back to that very moment. What happened then was unique, but it does not belong to a distant past: Jesus continues to do the same thing anew, even today. At our Baptism he touched each of us and said "Ephphatha" - "Be opened" -, thus enabling us to hear God's voice and to be able to talk to him...


“The Gospel invites us to realize that we have a "deficit" in our capacity for perception - initially, we do not notice this deficiency as such, since everything else seems so urgent and logical; since everything seems to proceed normally, even when we no longer have eyes and ears for God and we live without him. But is it true that everything goes on as usual when God no longer is a part of our lives and our world?


“As we gather here, let us here ask the Lord with all our hearts to speak anew his "Ephphatha", to heal our hardness of hearing for God's presence, activity and word, and to give us sight and hearing. Let us ask his help in rediscovering prayer, to which he invites us in the liturgy and whose essential formula he has taught us in the Our Father.” - HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Trying to Understand the Human Person Better

 In the Beginning…' Pope Benedict XVI

In a Lenten sermon given in 1981 in the cathedral of Munich, Germany, “Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger said the following:


“In the Genesis story that we are considering, still a further characteristic of sin is described. Sin is not spoken of in general as an abstract possibility but as a deed, as the sin of a particular person, Adam, who stands at the origin of humankind and with whom the history of sin begins. The account tells us that sin begets sin, and that therefore all the sins of history are interlinked. Theology refers to this state of affairs by the certainly misleading and imprecise term ‘original sin.’ What does this mean? Nothing seems to us today to be stranger or, indeed, more absurd than to insist upon original sin, since, according to our way of thinking, guilt can only be something very personal, and since God does not run a concentration camp, in which one’s relative are imprisoned, because he is a liberating God of love, who calls each one by name. What does original sin mean, then, when we interpret it correctly?

“Finding an answer to this requires nothing less than trying to understand the human person better. It must once again be stressed that no human being is closed in upon himself or herself and that no one can live of/or for himself or herself alone. We receive our life not only at the moment of birth but every day from without–from others who are not ourselves but who nonetheless somehow pertain to us. Human beings have their selves not only in themselves but also outside of themselves: they live in those whom they love and in those who love them and to whom they are ‘present.’ Human beings are relational, and they possess their lives–themselves–only by way of relationship. I alone am not myself, but only in and with you am I myself. To be truly a human being means to be related in love, to be of and for. But sin means the damaging or the destruction of relationality. Sin is a rejection of relationality because it wants to make the human being a god. Sin is loss of relationship, disturbance of relationship, and therefore it is not restricted to the individual. When I destroy a relationship, then this event–sin–touches the other person involved in the relationship. Consequently sin is always an offense that touches others, that alters the world and damages it. To the extent that this is true, when the network of human relationships is damaged from the very beginning, then every human being enters into a world that is marked by relational damage. At the very moment that a person begins human existence, which is a good, he or she is confronted by a sin-damaged world. Each of us enters into a situation in which relationality has been hurt. Consequently each person is, from the very start, damaged in relationships and does not engage in them as he or she ought. Sin pursues the human being, and he or she capitulates to it.”

(Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, ‘In the Beginning…’: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, trans. Boniface Ramsey, OP [Eerdmans, 1995], pp. 71-73)


Also see:

BENEDICT XVI GENERAL AUDIENCE Paul VI Audience Hall Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Actually, in opposing their Creator people go against themselves, deny their origin and consequently their truth; and evil, with its painful chain of sorrow and death, enters the world. Moreover, all that God had created was good, indeed, very good, but after man had opted freely for falsehood rather than truth, evil entered the world.

I would like to highlight a final teaching in the accounts of the Creation; sin begets sin and all the sins of history are interconnected. This aspect impels us to speak of what is called “original sin”. What is the meaning of this reality that is not easy to understand? I would just like to suggest a few points. First of all we must consider that no human being is closed in on himself, no one can live solely for himself and by himself; we receive life from the other and not only at the moment of our birth but every day. Being human is a relationship: I am myself only in the “you” and through the “you”, in the relationship of love with the “you” of God and the “you” of others. Well, sin is the distortion or destruction of the relationship with God, this is its essence: it ruins the relationship with God, the fundamental relationship, by putting ourselves in God’s place.


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Opportunity to be Patient


Enjoy this video clip from the movie, Evan Almighty, where the waiter, Al Mighty, played by Morgan Freeman, explains prayer as, 'God providing opportunities'. What are we going to do with the opportunities in our life?

·         Joan: Excuse me. Can I get a refill please? 

 

·         God: Coming right up. 

 

·         Joan: Thank you. 

 

·         God: Excuse me. Are you alright? 

 

·         Joan: Yeah. (God looks at her unconvinced.) No. It’s a long story. 

 

·         God: Well, I like stories. I’m considered a bit of a storyteller myself. 

 

·         Joan: My husband… Have you heard of New York’s Noah? 

 

·         God: (Chuckling) The guy who’s building the ark. 

 

·         Joan: That’s him. 

 

·         God: I love that story, Noah and the Ark. You know, a lot of people miss the point of that story. They think it’s about God’s wrath and anger. They love it when God gets angry. 

 

·         Joan: What is the story about, then? The ark? 

 

·         God: Well, I think it’s a love story about believing in each other. You know, the animals showed up in pairs. They stood by each other, side by side, just like Noah and his family. Everybody entered the ark side by side. 

 

·         Joan: But my husband says God told him to do it. What do you do with that? 

 

·         God: Sounds like an opportunity. Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other? Well, I got to run, a lot of people to serve. Enjoy. 


Friday, January 15, 2021

Neighours (1952) - A Film by Norman McLaren

 


Erik Buys writes in his blog, Mimetic Margins:

In 1952, Scottish-born Canadian film director and animator Norman McLaren (1914-1987) released his hugely acclaimed short film Neighbours. It won both a Canadian Film Award and an Academy Award, and has been designated as a ‘masterwork’ by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada. Moreover, in 2009, the film was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme. Neighbours is a revolutionary piece of art, both in content and in style. McLaren is a master in using the so-called pixilation, an animation technique which treats live actors as stop-motion objects. As for the content, Neighbours can be considered an anti-war statement. 

Asked about the inspiration for his film, McLaren answered: I was inspired to make Neighbours by a stay of almost a year in the People’s Republic of China. Although I only saw the beginnings of Mao’s revolution, my faith in human nature was reinvigorated by it. Then I came back to Quebec and the Korean War began. My sympathies were divided at that time. I felt myself to be as close to the Chinese people as I felt proud of my status as a Canadian. I decided to make a really strong film about anti-militarism and against war.”

The film clearly demonstrates the mimetic origin of rivalry and its escalation into violence. Two neighbours, living together peacefully and enjoying shared interests, become each other’s rivals once they both lay claim on a flower. The film plainly depicts they not only pay attention to this object, but also that they increasingly keep an eye on each other until, finally, the attention for the object completely disappears. As they imitate each other’s claims and try to manifest themselves over against one another, the object is even destroyed during the process.

Neighbours not only ironically reveals that one’s desire for prestige, pride and power is actually based on nothing (but an imitation of another’s desire), but it also shows the tragic and horrifying, shocking outcome of escalated mimetic rivalry. The former friends are tricked into becoming each other’s monstrous doubles. The Latin word praestigia means deception or illusion and it indeed points to the misleading nature of mimetic desire.