“We are one big family of people, trying to make our way through the unfolding puzzle of life.” – Sara Paddison (Author)
Evil is no joke! It is a caustic enigmatic force that leaves humanity forlorn, puzzling over shattering expirations. In the early morning of July 20, the suburban town of Aurora, Colorado experienced the torment of such humorless intensity when a choleric auburn hair-dyed gunman wearing a gas mask and sheathed body armor opened fire in a crowded multiplex packed for the first showing of The Dark Knight Rises. When the deadly midnight rampage during this final installment of the popular Batman Movie franchise was over, 12 patrons were killed and 58 others lay wounded. Eleven victims remain hospitalized in critical condition.
The midnight movie massacre of Aurora, Colorado has shattered the summer serenity of the entire American culture casting us all under the spell of an emotive puzzle. Hearts, minds, and souls have been hurled apart like detached jig-sawed fragments – each seeking to intuit the motive for such insanity in the shelter of mutual embrace. Now that work has begun on the construction of an outermost crime-fighting framework, we should avoid relinquishing our enigmatic aspirations too quickly, as puzzling – or metagrobolizing – is not the sort of activity left overnight for the morning.
The word puzzle comes from the Old French word pusle that means to “bewilder” or “confound.” The term is derived from the verb aposer that means to be “perplexed.” The verb metagrobolize, on the other hand, stems from the French verb métagaboulizer that means “to puzzle” or “to mystify.” Recently, the noun “metagrobologist” has been adopted to designate “one who solves puzzles.”
The Ancient Greek language employs two words that indicate the action of puzzling. While the term ainissomai denotes “talking with codes” or “making wordplay,” grîphos refers to a “challenging question” or an enigma. The equivalent Latin word scirpus, means “to find problems.” The Vatican has actually coined the Latin word subverticula to refer to a brainteaser. Consequently, the titles of subverticulist and metagrobologist may both be used to denote individuals who demonstrate an insatiable desire to solve enigmas.
Paradoxically, in light of the midnight massacre during a movie that smugly references the “dark,” Aurora’s appellation provides its own unique linguistic subverticulum as the city’s name actually means “the dawn.” Tragically, in the suburb whose identity evokes the aura of light, citizens have suffered the physical, emotional, and spiritual nightfall that demands adequate surmounting.
Consequently, now is not the time for knee-jerk accusations, political sloganeering, or naïve talk-show therapies! Society requires experienced metagrobolists – puzzle subverticulists – who can help guide a muddled American society to judiciously rejoin the scattered fragments of its cultural lucidity. But what method should be employed for such essential reconstruction?
A story is told of an ambitious entrepreneur who wanted to keep his young son busy while he pursued extra evening work. Searching his office, the father spotted a magazine with a large world map on its cover. He removed the cover, patiently tore it up into small pieces, and finally placed the fragments into his suit-coat pocket.
Upon his arrival home, the businessman was greeted by his son who cheerfully expressed his readiness to play. The father explained that they couldn’t play just yet, but that he had brought a special surprise. He led his son into the dining room where he spread the pieces of the map on the table. He explained that it was a map of the world, and that by the time he could put it back together, his extra work would be finished. “Surely,” the father thought, “this would keep my son busy for hours.”
Astonishingly, the young boy promptly completed the task. “Okay, it’s finished,” he proudly stated to his bewildered father! “Can we play now?”? “That’s impossible, the father replied. Sure enough, there on the dinning room table was the picture of the world, all put together, every piece in its place. “How did you do that,” the curious father asked? “It was simple.” Replied the little boy. “On the back of the page was a picture of a man. When I put the man together . . . the whole world fell into place.”
John Spilsbury invented the jigsaw puzzle in 1767. The originator was an English engraver and chart-maker whose first jigsaw puzzle was a map of the world. He attached a map to a piece of wood and then cut out each country. Teachers later used Spilsbury’s puzzles to teach geography to their students by having them correctly locate the nations of the world.
The greatest minds in history have assiduously puzzled over the topic of evil. Spilsbury’s metagrobolizing method might just provide the ideal theological framework that Americans require to better understand the presence of evil in the world and thereby begin healing its current fragmentation. Certainly, when coupled with the holocaust, killing fields, the abduction and molestation of small children, suicide bombings, and tsunamis, the midnight movie massacre exemplifies the difficulty of the essential question. Having puzzled for millennia over the dining room fragments of societal evil “mens rea,” even the greatest theologians, philosophers and scientists have not arrived at an adequate conclusion.
Over the centuries, responses to the problem of evil have been classified as either defenses or theodicies. Eight (8) primary categories may be delineated: (a) free will (freedom to love or reject God), (b) natural evil (disease and disasters), (c) consequence of sin and ethical privation (Paradise lost), (d) humanity’s impartial knowledge, (e) illusion (evil as phantom), (f) the privation of good, (g) complement (good and evil as opposite pairs), and (h) as a preparation for after-life.
Whatever riposte selected, the puzzle of evil will be difficult, if not impossible, to complete without the benefit of sincere spiritual linkage. Since the first and most important step when rejoining jigsaw puzzle pieces is the careful review of the model’s original details, the map of life may only be assembled with a view of the “right” man placed at the center! For Christians, Jesus is the perfect and most complete Archetype. Humanity, on the other hand, comprises the “pieces” – the members of this Man, from whom, according to Saint Paul, “all the body is fitly framed and knit together” (4:16).
“Behold the Man” (John 19:5)! Unaware of the eternal poignancy of his mandate, Pontius Pilate, one of history’s most sinister protagonists, was properly inviting humanity to gaze on the Truth of our very existence – not as philosophy, but as Person. On that most celebrated of afternoons, the dusk of evil was eclipsed forever by the Aurora of God’s sacrificial Love!
Many people will dismiss such God-centered confidence as naiveté. “If God really is omnipotent, omniscient, and all loving,” they will ask, “if he is the Key – then how is it possible that there is so much evil in the world? Either God has the power to prevent evil and cruelly refuses to do so, or” they will insist, “lacking such power – he is not worthy of tribute!”
As the previous anecdote illustrates, however, the torn chart of our disfigured cosmos will only re-assemble once humanity’s original design is first accurately restored. If humanity authentically desires to re-construct the societal puzzle fragments shattered by the midnight movie massacre in Aurora, then it must choose to “rise” with the Light by placing the appropriate “Knight” at life’s pan-ultimate center.
Dark Knight Rises is the last of Christopher Nolan’s trio of Batman films. This most lucrative of movie franchises explores the evil trip-wires that frequently disrupt the stages of healthy human development. Like a hero from a Greek Tragedy, Bruce Wayne emerges as the films’ primary metaphor for humanity’s struggle for truth, duty and destiny. While Batman Begins (2005), introduced audiences to a confused boy who discovers a grand vision for his youthful abilities and potentials, The Dark Knight (2008) presented the greying of a super-hero’s middle-age flaws and disappointments. In this final installment, Bruce is challenged to “rise” above the backbreaking “bane” of his lifespan’s unfulfilled expectations!
Only when the tri-piece puzzle of Nolan’s films is reconciled in such a holistic fashion can the director’s portrayal of evil be properly understood. In the final analysis, Batman’s enemies are the alter egos that every man must courageously surmount if true heroism is to be discovered amidst life’s multi-faceted complications.
This is the ultimate message of The Dark Knight Rises. In the end, the villainous Bane and his compatriots are clearly shown to be evil and receive their just comeuppance. While some will postulate that guns, poverty, ignorance, video games, bigotry, neurologic abnormalities, and movie violence are all responsible for triggering the midnight movie massacre in Aurora, Colorado, sensible metagrobolizers will proceed to judiciously reassemble the puzzle with the help of a more holistic framework concerning the nature of evil. While no one would deny that the aforementioned societal ills are, in fact, all contributing factors, the undeniable truth is that Nolan is right – evil people commit evil acts!
It has been discovered that the movie trailer for The Dark Night Rises was, in many theaters, coupled with the trailer for a movie called The Gangster Squad. At the end of the latter, a man eerily opens fire in a crowded movie theater! Whatever the motive, the gangster-like killing of a dozen people was apparently not enough for the joker-crazed James Holmes. Inside his otherwise ordinary apartment lay an intricate series of lethal booby traps, seemingly designed to kill anyone in pursuit or intent on his capture. Law enforcement officials were able to safely enter Holmes’ apartment only after a day of bomb-defusing robots, and painstaking patience with tripwires and deadly explosives. In addition to numerous deadly armaments police discovered a poster, mask and other Batman paraphernalia.
Mystics throughout the ages have insisted that nothing happens in the world that does not first occur in the minds, hearts, and souls of men and women. Like the officers that cautiously entered the toxic apartment of the 24-year-old mass murderer, it might, therefore, be more beneficial to first discern, dislodge and then carefully dispose of the trip-wires and booby traps that are hidden in the secret recesses of our personal and societal souls! Perhaps, after such spiritual defusing – we may more successfully metagrobolize the madness that surrounds us.