Broken Hearts and New Creations, by James Alison

A  native of England, James Alison converted to Catholicism when he was 18. He studied with the Dominicans at Oxford, received his doctorate in systematic theology from the Jesuit theology faculty in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and has lived and worked in several Latin American countries and in the United States. Most of the 16 essays in this, his seventh, book are based on presentations he gave from 2006 to 2009.

Just as Aristotle provided the philosophical foundation for the theology of Thomas Aquinas, so the contemporary French thinker René Girard provides the anthropology that is the basis for Alison's systematic theology. Developing the theological implications of Girard's thought has been Alison's explicit project throughout his career.

Key to Girard's thought are two ideas: the social construction of the self through the imitation of others (mimetic theory) and the scapegoat mechanism—"the creation of peace out of frenzy by the random designation and expulsion of one against whom all can unite." Thus the rules for survival in the group are reciprocity (do to others as they do to you) and revenge. But in the death and resurrection of Jesus, God sides with the victim and thus replaces reciprocity with gratuity and revenge with forgiveness. Thus we are enabled "to live as if death were no more." Humans can now realize that we are fundamentally the same and that there is no need to exclude anyone.