Help us, Lord! As Seen in a Cartoon

“Medea rappresentation (2009) 07” by I, Sailko. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

There was a tendency in ancient plays in Greece and Rome to introduce something that was called a deus ex machina solution (literally “God from a Machine”). For very often, the playwrights had concocted a plot so complicated, with so many subplots and difficult situations, that they themselves really couldn’t resolve the mess they’d written. Thus, “gods” (marionettes or actors really) would be lowered down onto the stage from above, using winches and other machines. These “gods” would simply and magically solve all the problems. Hence the expression deus ex machine has come in English to mean “a contrived or unlikely solution.”

Somehow, I thought about that as I saw the cartoon below. I also thought a lot about the mess that we’re currently in in our culture, and throughout the whole world. For where, really, aren’t things just an awful mess? Marriage, family, sexuality, and the meaning and purpose of life, are all confused. Social order, self-restraint, and any moral consensus, let alone the practice of virtue or even common sense, are becoming hard to find.

How are we ever to clean up this mess? The depth of confusion and increasing social chaos, along with base and reprehensible behavior that many actually celebrate, make it hard to imagine that we’re going anywhere, except to a very bad place, and with increasing rapidity.

Yes, it’s a little bit like the ancient playwrights of Greece and Rome who had written themselves into such a chaotic corner that they had to use fake gods to bail themselves out. As for us, only the one, true God can snatch us out of the quicksand.

In the cartoon below, there is a secret agent man who seems to think he has everything under control. But even as the cartoon opens, we can see he’s a bit foolish, unsteady on his feet, and can barely cross the street without getting killed. Let’s call this secret agent man “Modern Man.”  He thinks he amounts to something, but he ain’t all that.

There comes into “Modern Man’s” life a pesky pigeon that he just can’t beat. Let’s call the pigeon “Consequences.” For all Modern Man’s gadgets and apparent smarts, the pigeon Consequences just keeps outsmarting Modern Man. In fact, it is exactly Modern Man’s technology that the pigeon, Consequences, is able to exploit. In effect, the pigeon hoists Modern Man with his own petard.

And though utter disaster is ultimately avoided by Modern Man, as the video draws to its conclusion the pesky pigeon is still there. He’ll never go away! Then comes a surprise ending, a kind of deus ex machina solution.

What does all of this have to say to us modern men (and women)? Well, very much like “Modern Man” in the cartoon, we too have been hoisted with our own petards. Despite our bravado and our prideful self-assurance, we ain’t all that. We can barely cross the road without getting killed.  In other words, it is only by the sheer mercy of God that we have not annihilated ourselves with nuclear weapons, etc.

But like Modern Man in the cartoon, we are increasingly dogged by the consequences of our many bad choices. Like the man in the video that just can’t beat the pigeon, we just can’t seem to get away from the consequences that afflict us. And it is often our modern way of life and technology that are the very things that cause the greatest harm.

And while we have somehow avoided complete disaster, it becomes increasingly hard to imagine how we can ever get out of this mess that we are in. Yes, only a solution from above, only God, can save us.

How he will do it? I don’t really know. I am afraid that the only way I can see of pressing the “reset button” in a world gone mad would be for some awful calamity to happen that would so rock us back on our heels that we would actually have to start living ordered lives again.

But of course, I am not God, thanks be to God! God has in the past effected great reforms, seemingly out of the blue. For example, even as the Roman Empire crumbled in the 4th Century and the Church lost all of North Africa to the Muslims in the 7th Century, God worked the miracle that the Barbarian tribes of the north suddenly began to embrace Christ.

At another great crisis in the “Dark Ages,” when much seemed lost to plague and social disorder, suddenly people like Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic appeared on the scene. And later came St. Bernard, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. John of the Cross, ushering in great reforms in response to the Protestant Revolt. And when millions walked out of the Church in Europe, nine million came in in Mexico, through Our Lady of Guadalupe.

We can only pray that God will do it again; namely, effect a great reform, as if out of the blue. Lord knows we were in an awful mess emerging from the Satanic 20th-century. It’s going to take a miracle, or a calamity (I hope not), to reset and restore the modern world seemingly gone mad.

For the sake of Thy sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.

Anyway, enjoy the cartoon. It’s a good little allegory about a prideful secret agent who thinks he’s all that, but he ain’t; and how a little pigeon practically pecks him to death. Only a solution from above can save him from the awful bird called “Consequences.”

Help us Lord!

11 Replies to “Help us, Lord! As Seen in a Cartoon”

  1. awesome movie clever technology and well applied msgr Pope.
    have mercy divine mercy on us.

  2. We DO have The Holy Face ..offered on behalf of any and all sitautions perfect praise to The Father , along with all of creation , through His Sacred humanity , into which we too join , esp. at every Holy Mass ..

    The Holy Face , present in every Eucahrist , with the love and mercy , from the moment of Incarnation.. .for and on behalf of all the innocents and their parents too who fell for the agent of death …

    promising perfect contrition ,promising to make the very sins as precious as gold ..and knowing how ardous a process it is to extract gold, reminding us also not to fall into the sin of presumption .

    May many be abundantly blessed with the one thing needed – contemplating The Holy Face , at every stage of His life and our lives !

    Praise be to The Lord, for His holy priesthood in our priests that brings His Eucharistic Presence , in our midst and the prayers of our Mother, who helps us in loving HIm and all that is of Him !

    God arises and His enemies ARE scattered !

    Praise and golry be , to our Father !

  3. Why did God give the book of Revelation to us through the apostle John? To remind us that He is in control, history unfolds according to His sovereign plan, that the church will survive, that greater evils are to come before God ends His glorious long-suffering and patience to enact His justice upon the earth, and etc.

    Just remember God gave us a sneak peek at the ending and God is victorious (as if there was any doubt about the outcome). The sneak peek is for our benefit, to provide reassurance for our faith when the mess gets so bad, when moral evil has so thoroughly run its course in humanity that God’s glory (all of His attributes on display) will be highlighted for maximum effect. Who is as patient and long suffering like our Lord in the face of utter evil, who is as just and good as our God in doing what is right and best?

    What are Christians called and purposed to do when confronted with utter evil during the age of God’s grace? Reflect God’s image (our purpose for which God created us to do) by picking up our cross and following Jesus and being patient and long suffering in the face of utter evil until The Lord enacts justice and righteousness upon the earth. For God’s kingdom is not yet established upon this earth as He told Pilate. We are ambassadors of the kingdom to come and suffer in a foreign land of evil until the kingdom comes and His will is established here on earth as it is in heaven.

  4. I so agree with you. In many places, Our Blessed Mother has warned us that the reset button is about to happen. We need to pray for not only our conversions, but also the conversion of the whole world.

  5. Yes, it is sadly obvious things seem to have gone too far, in particular in North America, and God may have to reset/reboot, but there is a hope in the actual social network technology. At the Oscar Awards, Ellen DeGeneres sent out a selfie photo of hersef and some of the assembled glitterati, and within 45 minutes it had gone viral and been retweeted 750,000 times, breaking some sort of twitter record. This is a reminder of the power and instancy of this social network global communication. If it can be used for shallow purposes, it can also be used for serious, soul-saving purposes. Imagine that some of the glitterati in that selfie came to a profound understanding of Jesus Christ and His bride, the Church: Ellen, Meryl, Brad, Angelina, Julia, J-Law — or Oprah, cheeky night show hosts, well-known journalists – well, you get the point. The ripple effect of conversions of that kind through social media would be profound – even world changing. This is a reminder to us that we should always be praying for those who lead us politically–and socially. God can do anything, and we have created the tools through which much of the world would know about it in minutes/hours/a day.

  6. I think perhaps most of us are too used to looking at the big picture and saying “What can I do about that?” Obviously the answer is: not much. But then again, in the big picture of things we are not EXPECTED to do much. It was someone much greater than I who first came to save the world. No, we cannot change our culture, but we can change our family, our parish church, and perhaps our city — and these things we ARE expected to do with the talents and abilities provided us. And if we should have some talents given us to lead churches or states or countries, THEN it will be our obligation to do something with responsibilities and talents we are given there.

    “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” says that Caesar is responsible for the state — and will be accountable for his success or failure, not us. What we do, where we give our love and attention, first starts with those closest to us. Subsidiarity is a principle little known and even lesser adhered to. It is only in so much of our pride that we think we should be listened to for our “wise” solutions to saving the culture or the Church or the world.

    1. The problem here is you lack anxiety. Without it, you can’t change for the better. Subsidiarity is Orwellian.

  7. I love it. There is the presidential “football” with the presidential seal and here you have a pigeon running the show screwing things up to the point of almost starting a nuclear war with Russia. This sounds so familiar. We all know what pigeons are notorious for doing to a perfectly good structure. As for the reset button, Hillary gave one of those to her Russian counterpart when she was Secretary of State as a joke to make light of the Cold War days as if to say, her pigeon’s diplomacy skills would alleviate the conservative rhetoric of past administrations. The prideful secret agent may think he is all that but he isn’t, but it is obvious who he is working for and look what happens when you try to be nice to a birdbrain who takes control of things above their pay scale. This cartoon must have come right off the digital cutting floor. I feel the mess we have arrived at is a result of (legislative) lawyers and activist judges appeasing secularist constituents for campaign funds and votes so they can stay inside the beltway utopia with their power controlling lifestyles and replacing God’s eternal laws with their politically expedient man made laws of the land. As for the vicitmization of the apathetic souls who have perpetrated this Sodom and Gomorrah generation, they will do well to repent of their lackadaisical ways and rekindle the age of the saints. The price to restore Christianity to it’s rightful place will require martyrdom from those who have allowed it to fall away. Inside the beltway is this government’s only utopia and it is for the elite few and held up by the sins and on the backs of those outside the beltway. I’m done, you don’t need to stick a fork in me.

Comments are closed.