with the satanic expulsion of Satan the mimetic cycle is really closed

with the satanic expulsion of Satan the mimetic cycle is really closed

Chapter 4

Girard’s Lasso of Truth
Wonder Woman and the Overcoming of Satan
Stephanie Perdew

IMDb

The 2017 motion picture Wonder Woman presents a new installment in the tales of superhero Diana Prince, who first premiered in DC Comics in 1941.1 The film conforms to the plot lines of superhero fiction, in which a protagonist defeats a villain using a combination of human daring and superhuman powers. Violence is subverted by superior and supposedly morally righteous violence, all in the name of protecting the vulnerable. In many ways, Wonder Woman fulfills these expectations to the satisfaction of theatre audiences. But the 2017 film depicts a more complex battle between Wonder Woman and her antagonist, Ares, god of war. This chapter reads the relationship between Wonder Woman and Ares through the lens of René Girard.

Ares can be interpreted as a Satanic figure, following Girard’s understanding of Satan as a name for the scapegoat mechanism which results from compounding mimetic crises.2 Girard uses the terms “satan,” the “devil,” the “prince of this world,” and “the father of lies” as signifiers for this mechanism. Thus I will refer to the Ares figure by these terms throughout this chapter.3 In I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, Girard outlines the contours of how the satan appears throughout the Biblical narrative. In the opening scenes of Genesis, the satan is personified by the seducing snake who lures us into transgression and inspires us to blame each other for our predicaments. As history unfolds, the devil enthralls us all in mimetic rivalries as we imitate his invitation to transgress the prohibitions and boundaries that would protect us from conflict. Our seducer then becomes a stumbling block, the accuser and adversary who draws us deeper into mimetic rivalries and encourages us to turn on one another to resolve our crises. Finally, the satan acts as the “prince of this world” when sacrifice and expulsion of victims re-order humanity, which brings about a false but cathartic unanimity, bought at the expense of the one/s sacrificed or expelled.

In Christian patristic traditions, the devil was understood as a fallen angel in rivalrous competition with God. Irenaeus of Lyons describes the devil thus:

The devil . . . becoming envious of man, was rendered an apostate from the divine law: for envy is a thing foreign to God. And as his apostasy was exposed by man, and man became the [means of] searching out his thoughts, he has set himself to this with greater and greater determination, in position to man, envying his life, and wishing to involve him in his own apostate power.4

The legendary warrior women – depicted here on an ancient frieze battling the Greeks – became well-known through Greek mythology (Credit: Getty Images)

Origen of Alexandria uses the terms “demons,” “powers,” and “the devil” interchangeably to refer to the forces opposed to Christ without granting these forces (powers and principalities) their own ontology: “the one diametrically opposed to him [Christ] should be called son of the evil demon, who is Satan and the devil.”5

Girard follows these traditions as he sees that the devil’s power is derivative: “the devil does not have a stable foundation; he has no being at all. To clothe himself in the semblance of being, he must act as a parasite on God’s creatures.”6 Girard sees this parasitic activity in the scapegoat mechanism, so that the name “Satan” can be given not to a creature with an autonomous ontology, but to humans caught up in the mimetic crises resulting in the scapegoat mechanism, which are satanic. In Girard’s reading of the Bible, this process or mechanism is symbolized by the figure of Satan (in Hebrew, “the accuser”), the devil, the father of lies, and the prince of this world. In Wonder Woman, this process or mechanism is symbolized by the character Ares.7 Ares is a rejected son and rival god to his father Zeus, an envious antagonist to humans whom he stirs into jealousy and accusation and hopes to lure into a war of total annihilation.

Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Wonder Woman begins her life unaware of satanic ways. Princess Diana lives in an idyllic paradise on the island of Themyscira. Unlike Eden, it is inhabited by others, the female Amazons. They know of evil, and Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyta goes to great lengths to protect Diana from it. As in the primordial Jewish-Christian story, humans in Diana’s world are made in the image of the divine. At the time of Diana’s birth, Zeus had already created “beings born in his image, fair and good, strong and passionate.”8 But Ares, a son of Zeus, grew envious of humans and sought to corrupt them. He “poisoned men’s hearts with jealousy and suspicion, he turned them against one another, and war ravaged the earth.”9 Wonder Woman’s narrative is drawn peripherally from Greco-Roman mythology, not from the Gospels. But as in the Biblical narrative, her world also knows of a jealous rival force to the true god, which sets other rivalries and disorder in motion.

The figure of Ares, god of war, is a fallen prince and jealous son who has the power to sow violence and disorder, to make humans envious, suspicious, and rivalrous. Ares operates as “the prince of this world,” which will be illustrated later in the movie when his character is unveiled. As “prince of this world,” Ares both ignites strife between humans and keeps total apocalypse at bay. This pattern is Satanic, in that Girard calls Satan “a principle of order as much as disorder.”10 Satan is envious of God and God’s creatures, and most certainly of God’s son, whom he tempts in the wilderness and hopes to defeat (Mk 1: 12–13; Mt 4: 1–11; Lk 4: 1–13). Satan’s evil feeds on his mimesis of the true God, but in a “manner that is jealous, grotesque, perverse, and as contrary as possible to the upright and obedient imitation of Jesus.”11 So, too, Ares is in a mimetic rivalry with his father Zeus and with the humans created by his father, enacting his jealousy by inciting them into rivalries and wars, hoping perhaps to convince his father that his beloved creatures are not so fair and good after all.

In Princess Diana’s world, the powers of Ares brought about war and the enslavement of peoples, including the Amazons, who had been created to “influence men’s hearts with love.”12 Eventually the Amazons rebelled, and the gods came to their defense. Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyta fought bravely to liberate her people, but Ares killed the gods who defended the Amazons. Zeus was able to force Ares to retreat but used the last of his divine power to do so. This is an interesting statement about Zeus, made early in the film.13 The viewer is put on quiet notice that Zeus is not going to enter the narrative to defeat Ares. His divine power has been emptied, and if Ares is to be defeated, it will be through some other means. The Christian viewer, particularly those who are readers of Girard, will remember that Paul also knew that salvation came through one who emptied himself of divine power (Phil 2: 1–11). The parallel is not precise, but a viewer watching through a Girardian lens may already be on alert for a potentially different kind of Hollywood ending.

Just as the devil departs Jesus after the test in the wilderness, intending to return at an opportune time (Lk 4: 13), Zeus knew that Ares would regain strength and return at an opportune time to finish his mission, which was to stir up an ultimate war in which humans would eventually destroy themselves. Although Jesus and Zeus succeeded in overcoming their foes, the war was far from over. Here, though, an interesting divergence between Jesus and Zeus occurs. After his desert battle, Jesus proceeds to gather a people as he proclaims the arrival of God’s Kingdom. Zeus, facing his own waning strength, embarks upon no such extroverted program. Instead, he leaves a weapon “powerful enough to kill a god” and hides it on the island of Themyscira, entrusting it to the care of the Amazons.14 The mission of the Amazons is to defeat Ares should he come to them; but they will not leave their island to mount an offensive.

Princess Diana, the only child on the island, grows up in isolated peace, yet all around her, women are preparing for war. She longs to join them in learning to be strong and brave. Queen Hippolyta tells her daughter the story of Zeus, Ares, and the Amazons as a bedtime tale, lovingly revealing that she longed for a child so much that she fashioned Diana out of clay, and begged Zeus to give her life. Queen Hippolyta assures Diana that Zeus left the Amazons weapons strong enough to defeat Ares. She shows Diana the tower in which these weapons are stored: a shield and a sword that Diana solemnly calls “the god-killer.” The weapons are declared off-limits for Diana, and she is prohibited from learning the arts of battle.

Nevertheless, Diana continues to beg her mother to let her train. As Queen Hippolyta resists she tells her sister Antiope, “the stronger she gets the sooner he [Ares] will find her. . .she must never know the truth about what she is or how she came to be.”15 Eventually, Antiope convinces Hippolyta that Diana needs the training required to wield the sword and shield. In a sparring session with an older, stronger Amazon, Diana crosses her arms, generating enormous power from her wrist bracelets which deflects the power of her opponent. Diana and the viewer both realize her powers are stronger than she has been told. But her ultimate identity remains unrevealed to the viewer or to Diana herself.

Her journey of discovery begins when the American aviator Captain Steve Trevor crashes into the sea near Themyscira. The viewer learns that the German navy is in pursuit of Captain Trevor; the context is World War I. The pursuing ships at first reach a foggy mirage, catching glimpses of the island, before breaking through and bringing a battle to the Amazons. Diana fights in the battle, learning that her wrist bracelets deflect bullets, although she is unable to save her aunt, General Antiope, who dies of a gunshot wound. Steve Trevor observes the skills and strategies deployed by the Amazons, who have no firearms, yet repel the German assault.

As Diana assists Captain Trevor in recovering from his crash and the battle, the Amazons interrogate him with their lasso of truth. He reveals that he is a secret agent spying on the Germans in the war to end all wars, a war involving multiple countries with over a million soldiers and civilians dead.16 Upon hearing this, Queen Hippolyta realizes that the powers of Ares have returned, stirring up the promised decisive battle amongst the people the Amazons are called to defend. Diana determines to leave her home and accompany Captain Trevor back to the war in order to defeat Ares, symbolized for her and the viewer by the power of the German General Ludendorff and his specialist in chemical weapons, Dr. Sophie Moreau.

Unlike Adam and Eve, Diana is not cast out of her paradise, but leaves of her own accord, over the objections of her mother who wants nothing more than to protect her from the loss of innocence and the violence she knows is coming. Upon Diana’s departure from Themyscira, Queen Hippolyta tells her daughter, “The world of men is not worthy of you,” yet she gives Diana the shield and the sword (the “god-killer”) and Diana sets sail for London with Captain Trevor.17

While in London, Diana meets Sir Patrick Morgan, a British Defence official who councils Steve Trevor that despite the revelation of Dr. Moreau’s chemical formulas—recorded in a notebook that Trevor has stolen behind enemy lines—the British will press on in pursuing an armistice. Sir Patrick declares that the suffering of more civilians or soldiers due to Dr. Moreau’s chemical gas is a price to be paid in bringing about a negotiated peace. Those watching through the Girardian lens will note that Sir Patrick has entered a kind of Satanic wager in which the sacrifice of victims is deemed necessary to keep peace. His proclamation is not unlike that of Caiaphas in the plot to kill Jesus: “It is better for you to have one man die . . . than to have the whole nation destroyed” (Jn 11: 50). Sir Patrick champions precisely the kind of victim mechanism which Girard describes:

To apprehend this mechanism as the work of Satan is to understand that what Jesus asserts—“Satan expels Satan”—has a precise meaning, rationally explainable. It defines the effectiveness of the single victim mechanism. The high priest Caiaphas alludes to this mechanism when he says, “It is better that one man die and that the whole nation not perish.”18

But perhaps Sir Patrick is not all that he seems. In a secret meeting at a pub, he grants Captain Trevor the funds needed to make one last foray into General Ludendorff’s camp in order to stop Dr. Moreau. Steve, Diana, and his rag-tag trio of mercenaries trail Ludendorff to an airfield where a plane loaded with the bombs developed by Dr. Moreau will soon take flight. In the control tower, Diana gets her sought-after confrontation with General Ludendorff, whom he believes to be Ares. She draws her sword (“the god-killer”) and kills him, but the war still rages.

Diana’s realization sets in: “I killed him. I killed him but nothing stopped. You kill the god of war, you stop the war.”19 Diana questions the goodness of human beings and contemplates abandoning her mission. At this point the viewer who knows Girard, and who knows the Bible, knows that the father of lies is gaining a foothold with Diana, who struggles with the truth about humans.

When Steve Trevor tries to enlist her to help him stop the gas-laden plane from taking flight, she resists.

Diana: No, all of this, the fighting should have stopped. Why are they doing this?

Steve: I don’t know. Maybe it’s them. Maybe people aren’t always good. Ares or no Ares, maybe it’s who they are.

Diana: No, no. It cannot be. It had to be him [Ares]. It cannot be them. My mother was right. She said, ‘the world of men does not deserve you.’ They don’t deserve our help, Steve.20

Captain Trevor becomes, in effect, her theological teacher, illustrating the fallacy of the single victim mechanism: that a “bad guy” or enemy can be identified, eliminated, and that peace will ensue:

Steve: It’s not about deserve. Maybe they don’t [deserve help] but it’s not about that. It’s about what you believe. You don’t think I wish I could tell you that it was one bad guy to blame? It’s not. We’re all to blame.

Diana: I’m not!

Steve: But maybe I am. Please, help me stop it, there could be thousands more. I have to go. I have to go.21

Steve Trevor reveals the truth that General Ludendorff (thought to be Ares) is not to blame for human violence. As Trevor insists, “we’re all to blame,” or as Girard has said regarding the violence of the gospel Passion Narrative,

Violent contagion is enough. Those responsible for the Passion are human participants themselves, incapable of resisting the violent contagion that affects them all when a mimetic snowballing comes within their range, or rather when they come within the range of this snowballing and are swept along by it. We don’t have to invoke the supernatural to explicate this.22

Captain Trevor departs the airfield tower but Diana remains, questioning this truth.

She is joined in her questioning by Sir Patrick Morgan, who appears in the control tower. Diana and the viewer realize simultaneously that Ares can appear in many guises, and that they have been fooled. This reversal, that a British official rather than a German General personifies Ares, subverts the viewer’s stereotype of who the “bad guys” and “good guys” are amidst a movie set in World War I. The Girardian lens signals that Sir Patrick’s actions were Satanic all along, in that they have sown disorder and confusion. As Girard notes:

Satan can therefore always put enough order back into the world to prevent the total destruction of what he possesses without depriving himself for too long of his favorite pastime, which is to sow disorder, violence, and misfortune among his subjects.23

This is what Sir Patrick has been doing amidst the war in the guise of the prince of this world. On the one hand, he advocates for an armistice. On the other, he advises Trevor to secretly attempt to defeat Ludendorff. Ludendorff is killed, the war still rages, chemical weapons are loaded onto an airplane, and Ares appears on the airfield.

There, like the father of lies, Sir Patrick seeks to lure Diana further into the satanic game, inviting her to continue to question human goodness and ally with him.

Diana: You . . . you’re him.

Ares: I am, but I am not what you thought I was. [Diana reaches for her sword, which she has lost in the battle with Ludendorff.]

Ares: I am not your enemy, Diana. I am the only one who truly knows you and who truly knows them [humans] as you now do. They have always been, always will be weak, cruel, selfish and capable of the greatest horrors. All I ever wanted was for the gods to see how evil my Father’s creation was, and they refused, so I destroyed them.

Ares is a rival for Diana’s allegiance, and seeks to exploit her confusion about humans by convincing her of their evil. In doing so he reveals his jealous desire that the other gods see the Father through the lens of his lies. In naming his Father’s creation “evil,” Ares commits the ultimate sin as described by Jesus, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mk 3:28; Mt 12: 31, Lk 12: 10). He looks at what is good and calls it evil. And he attempts to seduce Diana into believing him.

When Diana resists his first overture and recovers her sword, Ares reveals the truth of who Diana is and how she came to be. Diana knows she is the daughter of Zeus (the father of gods). But Ares reveals that she is the god-killer, not her sword. The Christian viewer remembers Jesus teaching that those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword (Mt 26: 52). Diana is the one sent to defeat Ares, it is not her weapons that will do so. But how she will do so remains to be seen.

Ares: My dear child, that is not the god-killer, you are. Only a god can kill another god. Zeus left a child with the Queen of the Amazons as a weapon.

Diana: You are a liar!

Diana is right that she is conversing with the father of lies. Satan spins half-truths which are enticing and deceptive all at once. Ares is telling the truth when he says that Diana is the weapon left with the Amazons—a truth she resists hearing. He is lying when he says that humans start their wars on their own.

Through his lies, Ares believes he can lure Diana away from her divine mission to defeat him, and so tempts her by offering himself as a partner. If the humans of the world are not worthy of her, he is:

All these years, I have struggled alone, whispering into their ear’s ideas and inspirations for formulas, weapons, but I don’t make them use them, they start these wars on their own. All they do is orchestrate an armistice I know they cannot keep in the hope they will destroy themselves, but it has never been enough until you. When you first arrived I was going to crush you, but I knew if only you could see what the other gods could not then you would join me and with our powers combined we would finally end all the suffering, the destruction they bring, and we could return this world to the paradise it was before them. Forever.

Ares is Satanic in precisely the way that Girard describes: “Satan wants first of all to seduce . . . [he] presents himself as a model of our desires . . . [and] counsels us to abandon ourselves to all our inclinations in defiance of morality and its prohibitions.24 Ares reveals the way in which Satan distorts human desire such that we imitate him without even knowing we are doing so, hearing his whispers and following the desires he stirs. For her part, Diana resists:

Diana: I could never be part of that.

Ares: Oh, my dear, you have so much to learn.25

When Diana resists his seduction, Ares becomes her adversary, also in the way that Girard describes: “the seducer of the beginnings is transformed quickly into a forbidding adversary . . .”26 Enraged at her resistance, Ares lashes out at Diana, tossing her down the runway with brutal force.

As Diana lies stunned from Ares’ assault, Steve Trevor returns. The bombs on the airplane are on a timer and will soon detonate, so he has devised a plan to fly them away from the soldiers and civilians nearby. He tells Diana of his plan, but she cannot hear him as her ears are ringing from the force Ares inflicted. Steve departs toward the plane. Meanwhile Ares emerges in full armor and says “It is futile to imagine you can win. Give up, Diana.”27 What does a win over Satan entail? The viewer expects that Wonder Woman will engage Ares head-on. The Christian and reader of Girard suspects the defeat will not be so straightforward.

Diana sees Steve Trevor ascend in the airplane overhead, and then sees it explode. He has done what he can in his own battle against Ares: he has tried to learn and tell the truth of the chemical weapons and, ignored, he undertakes a final mission of self-sacrifice to protect the lives of the innocent even if he cannot change the terms of the entire war. Diana cries out in anguish as she witnesses his death. She breaks apart the debris of armor on the runway and seems ready to destroy Dr. Moreau.

Ares encourages her rage while continuing to perpetuate his lies as he entices Diana to turn her rage toward Dr. Moreau, the scientist deformed by her own chemical experiments. She bears all the physical marks of a likely scapegoat, as Girard describes their identification:

“In addition to cultural and religious there are purely physical criteria. Sickness, madness, genetic deformities, accidental injuries, and even disabilities in general tend to polarize persecutors.”28 So Ares calls attention to Dr. Moreau and invites Diana’s scapegoating:

Yes, Diana, take them all. Finally, you see. Mankind did this, not me. They are ugly, filled with hatred, weak just like your Captain Trevor, gone and left you nothing, and for what? Pathetic. . . . Look at her (gesturing toward Dr. Moreau) and tell me I’m wrong. She is the perfect example of these humans and unworthy of your sympathy in every way. Destroy her, Diana. You know that she deserves it. They all do. Do it!29

Diana resists the invitation to make a scapegoat of Dr. Moreau and turns back toward Ares with resolve.

She proclaims: “you’re wrong about them. They’re everything you say, but so much more.”30 Ares responds as her adversary with his full display of lightening-like power. Diana walks slowly toward him, braces her wrists, repels his advance, and continues walking deliberately. Ares screams: “they do not deserve your protection!” and Diana replies with the theology Captain Trevor taught her: “it’s not about deserve. It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love.”31

At the mention of love, Ares declares in rage “I will destroy you!,” rising into the air and drawing down sparking, evil tentacles. Wonder Woman becomes entangled in them. As she looks at them, slowly rotating the tentacles around her wrists, her enigmatic expression leads the viewer to momentarily wonder if she has been more deeply seduced by Ares’ ways and bound by evil. But instead she realizes that the very weapons sent to ensnare her can be turned back on her enemy. As she says “goodbye, brother,”32 she rises in a glowing white cruciform shape, crosses her wrists and sends Ares’ powers back upon him. It is Ares’ own power, drawn out, exposed, and turned back upon itself, that defeats him.

Girard claims that Jesus defeats the devil by exposing his lies, and turning his Satanic power back on himself: “with the satanic expulsion of Satan the mimetic cycle is really closed—the knot is really tied—for the single victim mechanism becomes explicitly defined.”33 This defeat is not just a victory by the terms of the devil’s game. As Girard’s says, “the powers are not put on display because they are defeated, they are defeated because they are put on display.”34 The powers of evil are “beaten by a weapon whose effectiveness they could not conceive, that contradicts all their beliefs, all their values. It is the most radical weakness that defeats the power of satanic self-expulsion.”35 The weapon of defeat is Jesus himself, and his kenotic willingness to go to the cross as the victim “whose love and suffering reveal our violence for what it is,” namely, Satanic.36

Wonder Woman is not Jesus. If anyone plays the self-sacrificial role, it is Captain Trevor. But Diana does defeat Ares by deflecting his evil power and allowing it to destroy him. And she does so by appealing to what she has learned about self-giving love. The story of Wonder Woman is not explicitly Christian—it is still a Hollywood production. Yet readers of Girard can view the film through his lens, and Girard himself might have said that the plot of the film would have been influenced by the Gospels, whether the writers of the film knew it or not. This is because, as noted above, the Gospels announce the workings and the secret of the single victim mechanism, after which anything in the orbit of the Gospels necessarily comes under their influence.37

Back on the runway, the war is not over. The superhero in this film has not achieved a total, violent victory. Captain Steve Trevor has saved soldiers and civilians from Dr. Moreau’s poison concoction. Dr. Moreau herself has escaped, but it is left undetermined whether she is repentant or not. The German soldiers and Trevor’s crew embrace one another as they realize danger is averted. The satanic workings of Ares have been exposed. But humans retain the ability to choose between good and evil.

Diana acknowledges this at the end of the film when she attends a victory party in the streets of London, and spots a picture of Captain Trevor by his airplane. She knows that humans can still choose evil, and so knows that the victory party is temporary. She speaks:

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light and learned that inside of them, there will always be both. It’s a choice each must make for themselves, something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know that only love can truly save the world. So, I stay, I fight, and I give. For the world I know can be.38

Diana notes that she is only a superhero, and no hero will do the work that humans must do themselves, which is ever to negotiate the choice between good and evil. Yet she found and revealed Ares for the mechanisms he personified: an author of confusion amidst a war that he was both instigating and pretending to end; a rival with humans, envious and deceitful; a seducer who attempted to lure her into betraying her mission and allying with him in the destruction of humankind. When the satanic workings symbolized by Ares are defeated, Diana and others know the truth.

Girard argued that “Satan himself has thus placed the truth at the disposal of humankind; he has made it possible to overturn his own lie; he has rendered the truth of God universally understandable.”39 After this point, there can be no return to Satan’s total hold on humankind:

The princes of this world could rub their hands in satisfaction and yet it turned out that their calculations were undone. Instead of conjuring away once more the secret of the single victim mechanism, the four accounts of the Passion broadcast it to the four corners of the world, publicizing it wherever they were read and proclaimed.40

Knowing the truth does set us free (Jn 8:32) but knowing the truth and acting upon it are two different things. Girard also knew that that after the cross humans were not immune to satanic mechanisms, only that Jesus forever made Satan’s mechanisms plain to see: “We should not conclude that to identify the truth is enough to liberate us from the lies in which we are all imprisoned.”41 What is paramount is that humans have the choice to imitate Christ and resist imitating Satan: “In order to explain this to human beings, one would have to say: God leaves it up to you to decide. In other words, he isn’t responsible for the fact that human beings get caught up in satanic entanglements.”42

On the surface, the film Wonder Woman presents viewers with one kind of choice: to identify with Wonder Woman over against the satanic mechanism personified by Ares. Indeed, viewers cheer her well-meaning innocence regarding the satanic ways of the world, as well as her sword-bearing, wristlet deflecting prowess in battle. To indulge this choice is what we expect after watching a superhero movie, taking delight in our good hero building up a group (including us, the viewers) over against the defeated group (Ludendorff, Ares, the Germans).

When we identify such, we are in the realm of what Girard’s theological interpreter James Alison calls “functional atheism”: Whenever the group interpretation tends to work by creating a “we” at the expense of, over against, a necessary “they,” we have reason to doubt that anything is present other than the spirit of group building over against another, which is, of course, what is meant by functional atheism.43

Alison names this view of championing one god against another not “monotheism,” as might be expected, but “functional atheism,” because he declares that this belief of a god over against another god is not belief in God:

If God really is true, then to exaggerate the strength of the wicked other so as to strengthen the faith of the believer is the worst sort of nihilistic atheism, because it really does suppose that, in practice, it is only by provoking the wicked other to act out his part in the drama that our faith will survive, which means we don’t believe in God, but only in conflict.44

But viewers looking through the Girardian lens can see that Diana’s closing reflection models a different choice to us, a choice for the love whose province belongs to the true God and not to satanic powers:

The god who is wholly Other, genuinely “another Other,” has no part in such activities; indeed, from the point of view of the functional atheists . . . the real God is a stumbling block, a scandal, an offence, something they won’t be able to get over because God works in ways exactly opposed to their normal understanding of desire.45

Some viewers may dismiss Diana’s statement that “only love can save the world.” But those viewers looking through the Girardian lens will recognize the choice between God and the gods, between the God who is “another Other,” and the satanic mechanism. We are responsible for resisting satanic entanglements, and the Gospels reveal everything we need to know about how to do so. As Wonder Woman experienced, Satan’s menacing tentacles might entangle us and even bind us for a while, but when we learn that they are parasitic and ultimately powerless, we can summon the strength of love and turn them back upon themselves, as they collapse under their own power. (Pg.114)

“René Girard, Theology, and Pop Culture (Theology, Religion, and Pop Culture)” by Ryan G. Duns, T. Derrick Witherington, Jordan Almanzar, Brian Bajzek, Matthew Brake, Paolo Diego Bubbio, Erik Buys, George A. Dunn, Justin Lee, Daniel DeForest London, John C. McDowell, Stephanie Perdew, Robert Grant Price, Anna Scanlon, Ryan Smock.

WE&P by: EZorrilla.