Joan of Arc is, in her person, the complete refutation of Friedrich Nietzsche. She represents everything he sought to create through his Will to Power and Übermensch. The Good for Nietzsche was bravery, war, and the Will to Power. Leave charity and goody, goody sentimentalism to “little girls.”
“War and courage have done more great things than charity. Not your pity but your bravery has saved the unfortunate up to now. ‘What is good?’ you ask. To be brave is good. Let the little girls say: ‘To be good is to be what is pretty and at the same time touching.’ ” ~ Thus spoke Zarathustra
Furthermore, the greatness of this brave Nietzschian soul is purposeful arrogance, “And when your soul grows great, it grows arrogant, and there is wickedness in your sublimity. I know you.”
Centuries before Nietzsche, the Lord, who strikes down such proudness of heart, sent “a little girl” to achieve mighty things in His name. This strong, young woman was humble, pious, and virtuous in every way that Nietzsche later would come to consider pitiful weakness. As Chesterton pointed out, Joan in her smallness and piety was far more “Über” than Nietzsche’s Übermensch – she beat him at his own game. Little Joan struck down the Superman before Nietzsche had the opportunity to create him.
But does Our Lord strike down we who are so arrogant and proud of heart out of angry vengeance? No. He does it to humble us – to heal our souls. He does it because He loves us. Had Friedrich Nietzsche looked to Joan of Arc, he would have found his Übermensch as Überfrau, a double humiliation but for the good of his own soul.
Though he eventually went mad, Nietzsche’s mind was not his problem. He is at times strikingly brilliant in his sinister aims. One wonders if, with the heart of Joan of Arc, he could have been a saint and Doctor of the Church. But it is the heart that failed Nietzsche, not his mind.
Herein with the example of Nietzsche is my insistence on the Platonic model over the Aristotelian. The former leads with the heart such that we “believe so that we might understand.” The latter insists that we must “understand before we believe.” Nietzsche was brilliant. He knew exactly what he was rejecting. His problem was not in his understanding. It was in his heart.
Conversely, Joan of Arc “had the will to believe it” as she told her trial judges. She believed in order to understand, and as a result brought the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven, the very Kingdom Nietzsche mocked.
Who cannot feel sadness for the Nietzsche that could have been, and for the Nietzsches who now are, and is this sadness not the beginning of our love of enemy, a love we must release into the world if we are to reach that Kingdom destined for us.