Book: Social and Cognitive Perspectives on the Sermon on the Mount
Chapter: 12. Remembering the Sermon in the Mountains of France
Alicia Batten concludes the volume with a fascinating example of a network of communities that can be said to have lived inspired by the ethos of the Sermon: Plateau Vivarais-Lignon, especially the town Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, in France during World War II. Non-conformist groups of Christians from different denominations hid and protected Jews and others who fled from the German occupiers. Social memory theorists suggest that although social memory is malleable and constantly under negotiation, it can gain a certain amount of stability, especially when it is manifested in cultural objects, not only in individuals’ memories. The Sermon, well known and objectively present in printed form in European culture, can be seen as social memory with potential to guide and restrain present behaviour. Protestant Minister André Trocmé, who was instrumental in this network of activists, exemplifies how the Sermon as social memory could inspire such activity. Trocmé preached pacifism and non-violence in a time of war, and frequently reflected on the Sermon in his writings to motivate his position. His views were not his own, though, but shared by the network of communities in which he was active; they were expressions of an action-inspiring social memory in which the Sermon was paramount.