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.'”

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