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Colloquium On Violence & Religion



COV&R-Bulletin No. 10 (March 1995)

Greetings from the President

I would like to thank the COV&R Advisory Board and the members in attendance at our last meeting for the unexpected honor I received from them, in my election as president of COV&R. I take their confidence seriously and will do my best to live up to it. I know many of you personally. However, I think it is probably fair to say that my name is not exactly what you might call a household word among the COV&R membership at large (our group has expanded considerably in the last few years). Therefore, by way of personal introduction, I would like to offer here some thoughts on what I consider to be at this moment two important areas for further development in our group. One concerns the book series on which Jim Williams is so actively working. The success of such a series can go a long way in establishing and promoting a clear intellectual identity for COV&R and its rich internal diversity. We should all help and encourage Jim in this most worthy task.

The other describes my own intellectual preferences more directly. I am particularly interested in the relationship between Christianity, as a non-sacrificial revelation which, nevertheless, points clearly to the historical centrality of sacrifice, and other non-Christian experiences of the sacred. My presentation at Loyola offered some preliminary reflections in that direction. But my feeling is that what we know so far in this regard is probably only the tip of an enormous iceberg. In general, my inclination is toward the development and deepening of our understanding of the sacrificial model itself over its mechanical application. Or to put it somewhat differently, we are still far from knowing everything about the scapegoat mechanism, the depth and spread of its roots, and its practically infinite and largely hidden side-effects. And if this is so, I believe the responsible and prudent thing for us to do as members of COV&R is to keep investigating it in depth through open, collegial, and critical discussion.

Finally I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the outstanding work of my predecessor, Father Schwager, without whom our European dimension would be hardly conveivable; and I would also like to thank Judy Arias, with whom I have worked perhaps more closely than with any other member of COV&R. I know that without her untiring dedication and sheer hard work, frequently under difficult circumstances, Contagion would not exist today.

Thanks again for your confidence, and for your patience.

Cesáreo Bandera