Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Random Reading Reflections: The Power and the Glory

The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

“What an unbearable creature he had been in those days – and yet in those days he had been comparatively innocent. That was another mystery; it sometimes seemed to him that venial sins – impatience, an unimportant lie, pride, a neglected opportunity – cut you off from grace more completely than than the worse sins of all. Then, in his innocence, he had felt no love for anyone; now in his corruption he had learnt...”

Though the “whisky priest” may feel he is unfit, he is engaged in a struggle to survive while preforming the tasks of his vocation, fighting with himself and seemingly losing. Yet, when it comes to ultimate choices of saving his own life by fleeing the regime or serving the pious locals around him, he chooses to serve – some of the time. He claims he is no martyr, as it was for pride that he stayed behind while all others fled for safety. Even in his selfless actions he battles with his motivations. He knows he does not live up to the standards of the priesthood or even the pious, yet he cannot shirk his role despite his best efforts at resistance. Greene captured a tortured Catholic priest who in good times used the ideals of his faith for his own benefit, but when caught in persecution, emerged to be the better human being he could not be before. When this Father escaped to safety, he somehow knew it could not last, and returned across the border to give a dying mass murderer confession, knowing it would mean his own death. The Power and the Glory starkly evaluates religion and prosperity and religion under persecution, revealing human struggles with pride, selfishness and devotion. Through the whisky priest it is easy to see revealed the message of O'Conner's, “A Good Man is Hard to Find: “'She would have been a good woman,' the Misfit said, 'if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.'”

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Random Reading Reflections: Aeneid

To write one must read. To read one must write (an inversion that doesn't work).  I am not faithful in writing, but much more faithful in reading. I seem to be reverting back to healthy practices from school, similar to starting to appreciate jogging after hating being forced to run every phys ed class. But, I never hated writing about books. A reflection on recent reading (more to come):

The Aeneid, Virgil, translated to prose by W.F. Jackson Knight

...[Juno] forced a man famed for his true-heartedness to tread that long path of adventure, and to face so many trials. It is hard to believe gods in heaven capable of such rancour.

A vivid interplay of the Roman gods and the characters of Roman legends and history – pre Romulus and Remus, starting from the end of the sack of Troy. The constant references to stories, legends, and mythical characters keeps the reader attached to wikipedia (or footnotes in a better addition) and to “ah hah!” moments, remembering mythology learned in school. Yet these references would have been common place, and expected homage, known to the everyday Roman. Fantastic experience reading in prose what would have been recited or read in flowing Latin as the popular history of the day for those in Augustus's realm.

The spiritual world remains so close, intertwined in the human actions and creating a dual narrative. Though it contrasts with notions of freewill and immortality – in this history what were the Latin antagonists responsible for if mother Juno incited their rage in war? She loved them, yet hated the Trojans more, and thus sent them to their inevitable death for the sake of a prophecy (or fate) which she knew would come true anyway. And thus only after a high price can the Trojans finally have their peace and destiny. What an epic this makes – the human drama of these Roman gods on one level and their mortal pawns (with weakened individuality) wrestling with reality, emotions and belief.

Random reflection:  The Aenid was written while Christ was living. How attractive the Gospel of Love and Grace seems in an environment with selfish superhuman gods to appease. Yet, we have these in other forms today. How often we try to thwart the inevitable or to avoid reality by harming those around us or by using others, especially those we love.

....And how to write showing the spiritual and human world so parallel?...tempting to put this into a screenplay format...