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Persuasions of God

Paul Lynch

Inventing the Rhetoric of René Girard

Paul Lynch

The nations of the global north find themselves in a post-secular or post-Christian period, one in which the practice, expression, and effects of religion are undergoing massive shifts. In Persuasions of God, Paul Lynch pursues a project of “theorhetoric,” a radical new approach to speaking about the divine.

Searching for new religious forms amid the lingering influence of Christianity, Lynch turns to René Girard, the most important twentieth-century thinker on the sacred and its expression within the Christian tradition. Lynch repurposes Girard’s mimetic theory to invent a post-Christian way of speaking to, for, and especially about God. Girard theorized the sacred as the nexus of violence, order, and sacralization that lies at the heart of religion. What Lynch advocates in our current moment of religious kairos is a paradoxically meek rhetoric that conscientiously refuses rivalry, actively exploits tradition through complicit invention, and boldly seeks a holiness free of exclusionary violence. The project of theorhetoric is to reinvent God through the reimagined themes of meekness, sacrifice, atonement, and holiness. From these, Persuasions of God offers religion reimagined for our post-secular age.

An interdisciplinary mix of philosophy, sociology, rhetorical studies, and theology, this book draws on mimetic theory to answer the question of where religion goes next. It will be valued by religious studies and communications scholars as well as anyone interested in the future of Christianity in our modern world.

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