Someone has started a website on one of my favourite theologians: James Alison.
I have to confess that I am not yet able to talk about his work in 'easy sound bites', but one of the reasons I like his theology is that I believe he is able to express orthodox Christian doctrine in thought-forms that are more readily accessible to the 21st century person than the old Protestant sound bite of 'Jesus died on the cross to pay the price of your sins.'
Underpinning Alison's theology is the anthropology of Rene Girard. In very simplistic terms, Girard believes that every society in history has maintained internal cohesion by a continuing process of identifying and expelling a scapegoat. Without the mechanism of identifying a 'them', there would be no 'us' because interpersonal rivalry inside the society would destoy it. US versus USSR anyone? How about US versus Iraq / Iran / Radical Islam?
Alison sees the rivalries that would tear apart society without a scapegoat and the scapegoatting process itself as the manifestation of Original Sin. Where 'the world' (my term, not Alison's) would see the scapegoat as fully deserving of divine wrath, Jesus' resurrection turned the entire paradigm upside down. The resurrection is God's 'yes' to life and God's identification with the victim rather than the victimiser.
I cannot do his theology justice, but I would encourage a reading of his works. For my money, The Joy of Being Wrong is the most interesting, but it is also his PhD thesis and so rather academic in tone. Knowing Jesus is probably his most accessible work and Faith Beyond Resentment: Fragments Catholic and Gay is very moving.
My favourite idea from The Joy of Being Wrong is that one can be forgiven for being wrong, but it is the insistance on being right that initiates a pattern of sinful violence. Fundamentalism, anyone?