Wonder Woman and the Church

Does the church leave out women in positions of authority?

In the early days of the Church, women could serve as deacons, taking great responsibility over liturgy and sacraments. While the Catholic Church has ruled out priestly ordination for women, it has not definitively spoken about the diaconate. I was reminded of this after watching Wonder Woman, which may seem odd at first, but allow me to preach a little.

Catholics refer to the Church as the bride and Jesus the bridegroom. The Church takes on a feminine identity even though it encompasses both genders. Jesus’ infamous line from Matthew’s Gospel speaks to the theme of Wonder Woman when he says, “From the time of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent are taking it by force” (MT 11:12). Jesus goes through his passion, death, resurrection, and ascension leaving behind his bride to wait for his return within this realm of violence. Therefore, there is an immensely unique strategy planned out by God in regards to the feminine role in subsiding the wars of men.

The StoryCap
There are these Wonder Women, known as the Amazons, who were created by Zeus to influence men’s hearts with love and restore peace to the earth. Zeus’ daughter is hidden among the Amazons after the fall of Ares, the God of War, to be trained by the best warriors in preparation for his inevitable return.

The Amazons live on a beautiful island called Themyscira, a paradise resembling the Garden of Eden, that is enchanted from being visible to the eyes of men inside of a physical bubble, just like Wakanda in Black Panther. The Amazon women train everyday equipping themselves with he skills they need to fight a God, but are too far from the modern world to know what has been going on in terms of modernity. The world is corrupted and war enters their domain by chance.

The Nazi’s chase an American pilot into this invisible Themyscira wreaking havoc on all the Amazons. When the great warrior Antiope (Robyn Wright) is slain it forces Diana Prince (Wonder Woman played by the stellar Gal Gadot) to step out of the garden and into the world of men. Led by Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pines) Diana enters the war to end all wars believing that Ares is behind it all.

The Protoevangelium
When the serpent brings death into the garden of Eden, it is a woman who is promised to deliver a savior. “I will bring enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers” (GEN 3:15). Catholics see that woman as the Virgin Mary, the Church. In Wonder Woman she is embodied by Diana Prince. Her name alone describes both the masculine and feminine role in salvation. She is a woman who is also a Prince. She is a bridge to a greater understanding for all mankind. Within her is the raw power, anger, and frustration of the world of men and also a breathtaking compassion for love.

Justice, Truth, and Love
The Church seeks out justice, truth, and love, the three things that define Wonder Woman. Justice is no longer seen as an eye for an eye, but as someone who gives their coat to one who asks for the shirt off your back. We see Diana display this kind of justice, a defying of the norms, when she goes to the front of the lines, providing hope to the fearful infantry stuck in the bunkers. The church fights, especially when called to nurse and shield the broken.

The church seeks truth! It doesn’t come as a surprise that one of Wonder Woman’s weapons is a lasso of truth. Women have a natural gift of bringing the truth out of men, which inspired the slogan “behind every great man is a great woman.” 

The Church is love. When Jesus poured out his blood on the cross for the sake of love, he was not the only one suffering. There in front of him was his mother, the embodiment of the Church, having her “heart pierced with a sword” in emotional trauma for the love of her spiritual offspring, humanity. In the film, Wonder Woman is given a choice to bring back peace the way it was before mankind’s destructive nature, but her love for them inspires her to fight Ares in an epic battle.

The symbol of self-sacrifice in the film is when Steve takes down a carrier plane with weapons on it to end the spread of violence brought by the war. Before he gets on the plane he hands Diana his watch, the gift of time. He knows his sacrifice will not end the war, but be a definitive turning point. He relies on his bride to continue fighting until the end revealing that only when love is sacrificed does it fulfill it’s identity.

We see this in Christ on the cross as he hands his mother over to John, a symbol that the Church has been gifted to humanity and open to everyone if they’ll have her. Christ’s sacrifice didn’t end violence in the world, but it was a definitive turning point in the battle for reintegration with God.
Wonder Woman says something about the male and female role in salvation. The man sacrifices his life, the female fights the battles in preparation for their union. The sacrifice paved the way, opened the door to the impossible, while the church fights against injustice and for the human experience.

I don’t think this was the film’s intention, connecting Wonder Woman to Mother Church, but it reminds me of these roles and how complementary men and women have been made, how one sided we make Church authority, and how amazing women really are in this battle.
The Church needs women, especially in places of authority. While absolute power corrupts absolutely, there needs a feminine balance that pushes men back into love and peace.
I, Tonya - A Life Destroyed by the Company you Keep
I grew up knowing the names of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, but never knew the full story of what actually happened. Like most, I believed that Tonya Harding bashed Nancy’s leg in with a bat and was able to still go to the Olympics. I never questioned anything because that’s how the media painted the picture for me as a child. I was very excited when I saw the trailer for I, Tonya because I knew it would finally shed some light on an old story locked in my memory. How many grew up thinking Tonya Harding was a vindictive skater? How much of her identity had been stained by negative press? Most importantly, how many truly knew that her story was one of class discrimination and domestic violence?
The film pieces Tonya’s story through the use of real interviews post-scandal. Whether the audience is convinced that Tonya didn’t know about the assault on Nancy is irrelevant. Her biggest fault was the company she kept close to her, namely her husband Jeff and his crony. Her real competition wasn’t her fellow skaters who she could out skate on a technical level, but against the stereotypes of uneducated white America. She wasn’t poor, but still battled the prejudice of social class.
You begin to root for Tonya early on in this film when you see her mother’s tyrannical parenting style. Her father literally drives out of her life leaving her begging on the street to go with him. Tonya sacrifices her education for training. While all of her other teammates could afford expensive uniforms, skates, and trainers, Tonya had to work harder to stay in the ice skating world. She was the first woman to ever attempt and pull of a triple-axle because she was technically superior. What Tonya lacked in her performances, something she could never understand, was grace. Grace comes from belief and love. Tonya believed in herself, but she had a difficult time loving herself.
She allowed her boyfriend and then husband Jeff Gillooly to physically abuse
her because that relationship filled the void of her missing father. She didn’t love herself and that translated onto the ice. There came a point though where the abuse took it’s toll and she separated from her husband. She started focusing on her talent, but suffered a setback when a judge told her that she needed a family to be able to get into the Olympics. He basically told her that America needed a representative who little girls could aspire to be rather than someone they see themselves in. This advice screwed with Tonya’s head and caused her to fall back into her abusive relationship.
This choice is the one that destroyed Tonya’s life. The choice to surround yourself with poisonous snakes is one where the risk is not just against you, but anyone who gets close to you. From this decision came the entire Nancy Kerrigan fiasco.
Who we surround ourselves with defines who we are, whether it’s true or not. It makes us a part of that crowd. The longer you hang around people the more you are associated with them. The more you talk like them, act like them, synchronize your sense of humor… you become defined by them. Tonya may not have actually known the truth about Nancy Kerrigan, but she surrounded herself around the people who set it up. She is a victim of a life destroyed by the company you keep.
The movie is raw, honest, and worth watching for Margot Robbie and Allison Janney’s performances. This is The People Vs. O.J. Simpson on ice skates.
mother! Film Review - Satan’s try at Creation

Screenshot of mother! (2017)
I love the idea of this movie. It is spiritually thought-provoking, maybe the best I’ve seen since Gravity. It is deliciously confusing most of the time making you question if the story unfolding could ever be plausible. You are taken beyond the surface narrative and challenged to see the religious symbolism in every detail. A Christian fundamentalist might go berserk over the film’s attempt at this story because it is violent, grotesque, risqué, and most importantly an interpretation. Kind of like the book of Genesis. The way that Aronofsky brings the biblical themes to life using only a house as Mother Nature is genius.
(Spoiler Alert)
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play an unnamed married couple. Bardem is an artists trying to write his next masterpiece and Lawrence is his muse. She single handedly rebuilt their home after it was burned down in a fire, a scene that opens the movie. We don’t know until the last 20 minutes, but Lawrence’s character is Mother Nature and Bardem’s character is supposed to be God. His sacred writing room is the Garden of Eden and an octagonal crystal displayed in the heart of the room is a symbol for the tree of life. Religious imagery builds from there with the first half of the movie focused on creation, Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, and possibly Song of Songs. The second half consists of a biblical flood, the birth and death of Christ, and Eucharistic communion. There are many interpretations out there as to what this all means and it surely carries some weight when you compare Lawrence to an abused Mother Earth. I would like to offer one more rendition.
There is something unsettling about Bardem. While certain things portray him as God-like, such as, his love for creation, I didn’t think he was like God. He was more interested in himself than anything else. A god that is self-absorbed goes against the very nature of who the Christian God is, namely Love. “For God so loved the world that he sent his only son…”, yet Bardem didn’t show this self-sacrificial side. Rather he was concerned about his role in creation. The Christian God is an eternal exchange of love who expands himself because of that identity. As St. Paul says, “Love is not proud. It is not self-seeking…” Bardem’s God allowed others to step all over his wife; her needs, desires, emotions…
During the night a man shows up at their door seeking refuge and Bardem lets him in dismissing his wife’s fear. Several scenes later he allows the man’s wife inside and eventually their children who get into a domestic dispute where one son kills the other in front of Lawrence.
The film concludes with a disturbing sequence, Bardem and Lawrence’s new born baby is eaten by a fanatical cult and Lawrence is beaten to a bloody pulp for trying to stop them. Bardem holds his wife in his arms and sides with the cult saying, “We have to forgive them.” When I saw this, I knew that this was not God at all. So on the defensive, Lawrence sets the entire house on fire killing everyone, except Bardem. She offers one last gift which is her pure heart, an octagonal stone (the tree of life) and the movie starts from where it began, a raging fire that slowly dissipates returning to a pristine house once again. This time a new woman is there to take on her role as Mother Nature.
The very reason why there is something rather than nothing is because love broke through, expanded from that which was invisible to become visible. We are participating in God’s bountiful love because God does not need us: people, nature, or the cosmos. Therefore, a God who is self-interested would not make sense to the existence of the world. God shares in his love, for the definition of love is to will the good of the other as other. Yet, this version of God presented in Aronofsky’s film seems deeply interested in getting the story right, his story in particular.
That’s when it hit me. This is not God, this is Satan, who is famed as the “fallen angel”. The one who fought Michael in a battle over the very idea of servitude. The belief is that in the beginning God wanted to share his love with the world, yet Satan did not want to be a servant. He wanted to be like God, a creator. So the battle ensued and Satan was cast down.
Cast down to where? This is where mother! takes place. Satan, fascinated with creation, is doomed to live out his days away from God. My theory is that God in his infinite mercy gives Satan the ability to act as creator in his own environment. There he tries to be like God. He follows the footprints creating Mother Nature, Adam & Eve, Noah and the Flood, leading up to his own version of Christ. Yet, Satan who will forever be tangled in his own pride cannot give up his vanity. By focusing on himself, he brings his “creation” to the point of a raging fire in a perpetual cycle, doomed to failure due to his inability to understand the eternal exchange of love that is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I recommend watching this movie simply for the questions you get to ask yourself afterwards. It is a very good way to think about creation and our role in this universe. Just be prepared to be uncomfortable, disgusted, and angry.
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