The reality and nature of religious faith raises difficult questions for the modern world; questions that re-present themselves when faith has grown under the most challenging circumstances. In East Timor widespread Christian faith emerged when suffering and violence were inflicted on the people by the state. This book seeks a deeper understanding of faith and violence, exploring how Christian faith and solidarity affected the hope and resistance of the East Timorese under Indonesian occupation in their response to state-sanctioned violence. Joel Hodge argues for an understanding of Christian faith as a relational phenomenon that provides personal and collective tools to resist violence. Grounded in the work of mimetic theorist René Girard, Hodge contends that the experience of victimisation in East Timor led to an important identification with Jesus Christ as self-giving victim and formed a distinctive communal and ecclesial solidarity. The Catholic Church opened spaces of resistance and communion that allowed the Timorese to imagine and live beyond the violence and death perpetrated by the Indonesian regime. Presenting the East Timorese stories under occupation and Girard's insights in dialogue, this book offers fresh perspectives on the Christian Church's ecclesiology and mission.
Joel Hodge is Lecturer in Systematic Theology in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University. He received his PhD from the University of Queensland and has held academic appointments in the USA and Australia. He has researched on East Timor for a number of years, making numerous fieldtrips and learning the local language. He also has involvement with East Timor through various church, community and development groups in Australia and East Timor. His accumulated experiences have been invaluable in developing an approach that seeks to holistically and critically understand the experiences of the East Timorese, particularly in regards to their religion and culture. He is also founding Secretary and Treasurer of the Australian Girard Seminar and co-editor of Violence, Desire and the Sacred: Girard’s Mimetic Theory Across the Disciplines and Vatican II: Reception and Implementation in the Australian Church.
'This is cutting edge stuff. Joel Hodge is a pioneer in a new understanding of Church, of Eucharist and of our relationship to our own violence. In Resisting Violence he models for us how the paradigm shift enabled by Girard's insights can yield a richer and more three-dimensional account of the Christian faith.' James Alison, Catholic priest and theologian 'This gripping account of Christian resistance to violence admirably brings together theoretical analysis with the actual experience of the East Timorese under military occupation. Through people’s stories of faith and fear, Hodge shows how theology matters, how theology can be expressed in social practices. Hodge shows as well how careful ethnographic fieldwork can inform theological reflection. This book is a fine contribution to a new way of doing political theology, an interdisciplinary way that starts in the midst of people’s suffering and courage.' William T. Cavanaugh, Senior Research Professor, DePaul University, USA 'This book is a convincing witness for the power of a vivid young church and it is also committed partisanship for innocent victims. As far as Christianity is characterized by the concern for victims, the stories told by Joel Hodge are pure narrative Christian theology. Furthermore these real stories are impressive illustrations of mimetic rivalry and mimesis-spurred violence, as well as of what Mimetic Theory depicts as specific revelation of the Gospel. So we can gain a lot from reading the offered reports and reflections.' Bulletin for the Colloquium on Violence & Religion '... the theological reflection undertaken by [Hodge] - most significantly from the standpoint of the victim - has great value and will, one hopes, inspire more work of this kind.' Theological Studies