A Thought for the Annunciation

annunciationRecently, I read the Scythe Trilogy by Neal Shusterman. (For Girardians: Shusterman has shown much insight into mimetic desire and scapegoating in his many young adult novels.) This trilogy envisions a future where a massive computer called The Thunderhead runs the world: coordinating work, managing the healing of sick and injured people, everything except for one thing. Since people no longer die of natural causes, the population is lessened somewhat by the institution of Scythes who randomly kill people gently and without malice. This is called gleaning. The Scythes and the Thunderhead are separate and do not interact. What would a trilogy like this have to do with the Annunciation of Our Lady?

Not surprisingly, the Scythes eventually attract enough corrupt members to threaten the institution. The Thunderhead cannot intervene directly and must use very careful workarounds to counter this corruption. There are two incidents I can share without seriously spoiling the main thrust of the plot. These incidents offer helpful analogies to the Annunciation.

In the first incident, the Thunderhead decides it must inhabit a human being for a brief time as a necessary step to properly completing a project. Accordingly, the Thunderhead possesses a human. Although this is just for a moment or two, it is traumatic for the human and also for that person’s lover who shares the pain. This incident makes it quite clear that the Incarnation of the Son, the Logos, could not be accomplished by force and be a salvific event for humanity.

In the second incident, a woman, a very ordinary woman, but one who has done well in a pressure situation, receives plans for a highly ambitious project designed by the Thunderhead. This plan will go through only if this woman, representing humanity, gives assent to the project, which se does. The project then goes forward with momentous results. Here we have a strong analogy to the Annunciation. Only by way of a genuine free choice by a human being does the Incarnation of the Son, the Logos occur.

Mary’s fiat, her agreement to the angel, changed the world. The ordinary woman in the Scythe Trilogy and Mary, another ordinary woman in a pivotal situation, show us that, ordinary people like you and me never know how crucial each “yes” to God can be. But God knows.