As a best-selling modern logic text says, ‘the success of democracy depends, in the end, on the reliability of the judgments we citizens make, and hence upon our capacity and determination to weigh arguments and evidence rationally.’ As Thomas Jefferson said, ‘In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of the first importance.’
Peter Kreeft, Socratic Logic
Standing at a distance from the United States I am observing recent leaked documents from the Supreme Court regarding Roe V. Wade, seeing the various violent acts of graffiti on consecrated Churches, and the typical non-dialogical method of public discourse involving slogans, scarlet-paint and scarlet dresses. Echoing in my imagination is the Scarlet Witch saying that her approach is “reasonable.” How do we reconcile that those who advocate vigorously for abortion consider their position “reasonable,” when we know such displays of barbarism tell us a different story?
These displays of violence against consecrated churches do not reflect the whole of the pro-choice movement. Yet, as their ideology promotes the destruction of a body meant to be a temple of the Holy Spirit, we do find a certain consistency in those who do act as such. Its been my experience that on both sides there is a type of irrational approach to the subject where listening doesn’t seem to occur. Nonetheless, to those dedicated to their version of telescopic philanthropy that is devoid of discourse and dialogue, all we can really do is shrug at what is an impossible situation. In the recent movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness the same dilemma occurs - dialogue with the wounded villain is impossible. Everyone who sought to “choose their words wisely” when offering counsel to the Scarlet Witch seemed to fail, because she was convinced she was being ‘reasonable.’ Dialogue wasn’t possible - compartmentalizing the dignity of all those she killed or was willing to kill, had been cemented by some obscure scarlet-smoke in her psyche.
In all the conversations, in all the monstrous acts of the Scarlet Witch, we discover a villain who has suppressed her own humanity. There is a scene that powerfully catches this, and will elicit in the viewer a type of good sympathy. She is enclosed by rocks, and cannot seem to get out. She wants to be saved! She wants to be freed! This prison she finds herself in is the culture of death, and the Gospel of Life is certainly what saves. Yet in that prison, due to fear, woundedness, and resentments, she is only able to focus on her own personal interests while murdering numerous people. How does this happen? We must ask that question - because all of us are susceptible to this type of compartmentalization.
What was the object of the corrupted Wanda’s will? She wanted something good - she lost her theoretical children and she wanted to reclaim them, make them real. She was experiencing genuine grief, loss, and sorrow. She was willing to kill to make them real - somewhat like what takes place with all the abortions that occur in an IVF procedure. The sadness that we might have for Wanda’s loss certainly did not justify her acts - and thus this becomes a good parallel to IVF in the arena of abortion. Even writing this it seems somewhat unsympathetic to draw such a parallel. Yet, that is the ugliness of abortion. As Christians, we need to hold in a tension two things at the same time: (1) a sympathy or understanding for those who experience loss, grief, and a temptation to resolve this difficulties through sin, and (2) the truth about that sin. I believe this movie captured that tension quite well - because in as much as her acts were evil, there was always an attempt to redeem her. In as much as they sought to stop her, they also sought to win her over.
You couldn’t help but watch this movie and feel sympathy for Wanda - a desire to save her mind from what she considered was a “reasonable” approach to obtaining what she wanted. She had power to do as she chooses. She thought that by holding back some of that power she was being reasonable. But the power to kill so barbarically, the choice to do so, ought not have ever been given to her. She didn’t seem to reflect on that point. She didn’t want to. She was focused on the end of her choice, not the means.
Where Conversion is Possible
There was only one way in which she found her way back to what was actually reasonable and loving - her violence was displayed in front of those children she wanted for herself. They became, if you will, a type of mirror to her soul. Their fear and their innocence awoke within her the very reality of “her choices.”
It seems as though in that moment of shame and grief she collapsed the whole structure of such malice in on herself. I am thinking of passage from scripture: “…calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb…” (Rev. 6:16). Yet at the same time, she was attempting to bring an end to the very real evil she had produced, that others might not do the same thing. Perhaps there was something redemptive in this action, and not merely an act of giving into shame?
I believe the movie sets the stage for how we can be absurd, malicious, and wounded people and still think we are acting “reasonable.” These descriptions are not meant to shame anyone, but rather to alert all of us who are sinners to the radical possibility that what we purport to be reasonable may in fact involve mass-murder. If we return to a disciplined manner of arguing, of logic, of reason, we will hold our wounded passions accountable to what reason actually is. Yet, perhaps the only way for us to come to terms with reason/truth, is to see it in the reflection of the innocent, what we are actually doing. But will we look? Will someone show the truth?
For this reason, I finally call to mind our Lady of Fatima. She showed little children the scary reality of hell, and gave them voice in all their innocence to warn humanity of our own creation. What is hell if not the very creation of malice by mankind? Mary did not tell us these things to shame anyone - but to bring about a change of heart, a conversion. This sight is much like the Serpent lifted up in the Wilderness - it reflects back to us our own choices. In that truth, it frees the soul from the illusion, a so-called reasoned position, that amounts to violence, slogans and a appeal to sympathy without truth. It is possible that we can be saved from this false-reasoning - it is possible that our hearts and minds can learn to love those whom we’ve degraded. But in order for any of that to happen, we must see the truth for what it really is, perhaps through the lens of those who are innocent - the eyes of Christ.
I’m sending this to my teenagers and everyone I know. Thank you, Father, for writing this.