Casey, Fisher and Ramsay claim to speak in the name of "Christianity and the values of ordinary people". In order to claim to speak for Christianity, they must clearly demarcate who does and who does not have the right to call themselves Christian. Any ambiguity must be excluded. So called "liberals" must be cast out to the extent that they would compromise the integrity of the group. This attitude is much more akin to performing sacrifice than understanding it. But then, my respondents could make neither head nor tail of what I described as the logic of sacrifice. The logic of sacrifice as I understand it is founded in the binary logic of the "A" versus "not A" distinction. What is clear from the extensive anthropological and sociological literature on sacrifice is that it is sacrifice that forms identity and community through integration and separation. Both communion and expiation safeguard the unity of the community through a process of differentiation. Whether a particular sacrifice is concerned with communion or expiation, its underlying logic is grounded in opposition. The underlying unity of these two modes of sacrifice is perhaps best expressed by the English word "atonement" which "is also always at-one-ment", to make at one. Although Hubert and Mauss had recognised the irreducibility of these two modes, they were unable to establish their unity. Nancy Jay suggests that this was due primarily to their commitment to the idea, beloved of French sociology, that the unity of sacrifice lay in its function as a means of "establishing a means of communicating between the sacred and profane worlds" (Jay 1992: 165 n4). Although Durkheim would not accept this distinction, sacrifice is only about the sacred in as far as the sacred guarantees the identity of the community.
Recommended CitationCasey, D., After Serrano Sacrifice and Church Politics, Law Text Culture, 5, 2000.