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The great Christian thinker Rene Girard developed a philosophy of history based on this insight. He said that “scapegoating” the innocent lies at the heart of fallen human civilization: that every city is built with the lime of human blood. It was only the coming of Jesus that unmasked and began to unmake this….
By John Zmirak, The Stream, June 9, 2017
Like many non-fiction writers, I’m a frustrated novelist. I’ve written a total of three. Each one stinks up a very old box in storage. But why? I’ve had to admit that characters don’t interest me very much except as hand puppets for arguing over what really grabs me: abstract ideas. A master of psychology like Dostoevsky could afford to work philosophical arguments into his stories. When I try it, the outcome reads, as one writing teacher told me, “like Maoist propaganda.” He was a leftist, but I don’t think he meant that as a compliment.
The Science Fiction Novel I’ll Never Write
But if I could write convincing characters, there’s one story I’d like to tell. What if we came across a group of humans who’d never endured the Fall? Or let’s go sci-fi: What if some scientist took DNA from the Shroud of Turin and cloned some? Sin passes through the blood, as St. Paul tells us. And Jesus’ blood didn’t have any. So right there you’ve got a sci-fi basis for how this could happen. Imagine some unhinged biologist in Italy opened up his lab and revealed that he’d created a thousand biological copies of Jesus Christ. (They’re purely human. No scientist can reenact the Incarnation.) Even better, this doctor did some tinkering and made a thousand females whom they could marry.
What would such people be like? That’s what I’d find interesting to picture. We’d get to meet Adam and Eve again, before the Fall. We’d be able to see mankind as God intended him originally — not hag-ridden by temptation. Not cut off from God by an infinite gap that only divine Grace could possibly bridge, at the cost of the Cross. No, man as he was meant to be. Doing what he was meant to do, as easily as dogs do. No struggle against the constant pull of a tainted will and darkened intellect. Virtue coming naturally. Kindness welling up easily. Good sportsmanship all round.
We’d get to meet Adam and Eve again, before the Fall.
Catholics believe that Mary, too, was spared Original Sin (through the grace of Christ, which vaccinated her at conception. Don’t ask, I don’t want to argue about it, and I promise not to read any comments contesting it). So we RCs can look at the Gospel accounts of her actions for hints of this. But there isn’t that much there, really. Just a few lovely, tantalizing anecdotes. So even Catholics should find this question interesting. In fact we do; large swathes of our traditional theology are devoted to distinguishing firmly between what belongs to Grace, and what to created nature.
What Would Unfilled People Really Be Like?
That would be the fun part of the book: Laying out in fine detail just what people are like when they’re just what God meant us to be. Not the patched-up, battered creatures that even Christians redeemed by Grace still are throughout this life: full of scars from our sins, old nagging temptations, gross imperfections and regrets. Not what we’ll become at the Resurrection, when even our wounds will be transfigured, and every fall will seem to us happy. No, the simple, plain creatures that Milton tried to envision in Paradise Lost. That Lewis imagined on Malacandra in Out of the Silent Planet. You have to admit that this is an exciting challenge for a gifted novelist. (Too bad I’m not one.)
Then the book would turn very sad, very quickly. Because it’s obvious what the rest of us would do to these unfallen creatures as soon as we got bored of studying them.
Why We Target the Innocent
We would kill them. All of them. Quickly. Not even a breeding pair would survive in captivity, anywhere on earth. They would disappear like the Dodos, flightless birds that had known no predators till the white man landed, found them and ate them. Every last one.
How do I know this? There’s a long, long list of incidents that point to this melancholy conclusion: Sinful man envies innocence (even relative innocence), and because he cannot attain it, he often decides to destroy it. That’s why Cain killed Abel. Why Joseph’s brothers attacked him. Why the Egyptians targeted the Hebrews. It’s why the mighty Roman Empire over and over again wielded its legions against little Judea. It’s why so many in Jesus’ time and place agreed that He needed to die. It’s why the most helpless minorities, like Jews and Gypsies and the handicapped, attracted Hitler’s most savage hatred.
The great Christian thinker Rene Girard developed a philosophy of history based on this insight. He said that “scapegoating” the innocent lies at the heart of fallen human civilization: that every city is built with the lime of human blood. It was only the coming of Jesus that unmasked and began to unmake this.
But I don’t need elaborate theories or historical lists of victim groups to prove my point. To know that this book would be too sad to write, even had I the talent.
Hunting Down the Handicapped
We only need look at the fate of Down’s Syndrome children today. It’s not enough that unborn children per se are as innocent as it is possible to be, after the Fall. We destroy one in three of those. In our rights-obsessed, virtue-signaling West that will turn reality upside down lest some drag queen be banned from the restroom of his choice … more than 90 percent of children detected with this disorder are killed in the womb.
Parents report that Downs Syndrome kids are usually happy, loving, guileless and kind. And Satan hates that more than anything on this earth.
Even when allowed to live, few of these will ever reach the mental age where they can commit a serious sin. Parents report that Downs Syndrome kids are usually happy, loving, guileless and kind.
And Satan hates that more than anything on this earth. He hates it as he hated Adam and Eve. So he goads us, their luckless descendants, to feel that very same hatred. He casts it as fear. Of the inconvenience, the burden. He dresses it up as “compassion.” We are too kind, too generous to let such hapless creatures draw a breath, or walk the earth. It’s for their “own good” we tell ourselves. But we know better.
We bury that knowledge. Whole countries like France censor videos depicting how happy, how good, how innocent and lovable these hunted children can be. If only someone would love them, would offer them the care and protection that we pretend we offer the innocent and the helpless. We good, good tolerant humanitarian people, who don’t need the blood of Christ to wash us clean. No, we don’t need that, and we don’t need those kids to remind us how tainted we really are. And so we kill them.
So that’s why I won’t write that novel. I couldn’t bear it.
John Zmirak is a Senior Editor of The Stream, and author of the new Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He received his B.A. from Yale University in 1986, then his M.F.A. in screenwriting and fiction and his Ph.D. in English in 1996 from Louisiana State University. His focus was the English Renaissance, and the novels of Walker Percy. He taught composition at LSU and screenwriting at Tulane University, and has written screenplays for and with director Ronald Maxwell (Gods & Generals and Gettysburg). He was elected alternate delegate to the 1996 Republican Convention, representing Pat Buchanan.
He has been Press Secretary to pro-life Louisiana Governor Mike Foster, and a reporter and editor at Success magazine and Investor’s Business Daily, among other publications. His essays, poems, and other works have appeared in First Things, The Weekly Standard, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA Today, FrontPage Magazine, The American Conservative, The South Carolina Review, Modern Age, The Intercollegiate Review, Commonweal, and The National Catholic Register, among other venues. He has contributed to American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought. From 2000-2004 he served as Senior Editor of Faith & Family magazine and a reporter at The National Catholic Register. During 2012 he was editor of Crisis.
He is author, co-author, or editor of eleven books, including Wilhelm Ropke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist, The Grand Inquisitor (graphic novel) and The Race to Save Our Century. He was editor of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s guide to higher education, Choosing the Right College and Collegeguide.org, for ten years, and is also editor of Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind.