I am a guy who grew up on comic books and sci-fi. They have always played a role in my imaginative thinking, and I’ve enjoyed this recent span of movies that have brought so much of that part of my childhood to life.
(I know a number of you are very anti-pop culture, but there’s a metaphor coming, and I hope you’ll bear with me.)
The most recent major installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a film called Avengers: Infinity War. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, the internet gives the following short plot synopsis:
Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet – the evil Thanos. On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.
From here on out, there are some plot spoilers, so if you were waiting for the DVD release later this month, you might want to change the channel.
For those who saw the movie: You know how Dr. Strange does that spastic future-looking thing where he considers 14,000,605 possible outcomes and then says that of all of those, only one leads to victory?
And then how even though he swore he’d defend the Time Stone even if it cost another Avenger his life, he reverses this oath and gives the stone to Thanos to save Tony Stark? And then says, “We’re in the endgame now”?
And then how, right before at the end of the movie, he, along with half the other human beings in the world, turns into a puff of dust – because Thanos used all that power from the Infinity Gauntlet to fulfill the dreams of Paul Ehrlich – he looks at Stark and says, “There was no other way”?
And how it was hinted to us really, very strongly that he knows something we don’t and that despite the obvious near total defeat that came as a direct result of his actions, that’s the one path to victory he saw?
It occurs to me that this thing that’s happening in the Church, where Francis is just doing his thing without any bishop contesting him in any meaningful way, and the walls are tumbling down in the city that we love, and the doctrines are being categorically contradicted, and the new sex abuse stuff is roaring back to the surface, and we’re watching everything we hold dear about our faith being turned into puffs of dust with an undercurrent of sad, dramatic music, and it looks like near total defeat – as if maybe the
Children of Thanos Gates of Hell have prevailed…maybe that’s the only way.
Maybe we’re in the endgame now, and in real life, since Dr. Strange and the Time Stone don’t actually exist and only God can see the future, He’s telling these few orthodox prelates who appear as though they’ve broken their oaths and are letting the bad guys win, in their prayer and supplication (I know they do way more of that than I do), that they have to let Pope Thanos get all the Infinity Stones and snap his fingers and unleash a wave of destruction unlike any ever seen.
And maybe, just like as an audience in the movies, we should have confidence that there’s more at work than we see, and that this can’t be how the story really ends, and that a lot of the damage is going to be reversed by a powerful force that probably isn’t going to make much sense, but we’re going to be really relieved by it anyway, and a lot of the things that disappeared in puffs of dust are going to come back against all odds.
You know, just maybe.