Tuesday, June 30, 2015
I think, for example, of Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Misérables, which has been made popular through musical and film versions. Every time I have read the book or seen a dramatized version of Les Misérables, I am drawn to see myself from a different perspective. I see the ways I can be like Javert: driven, inflexible, judgmental. I am profoundly inspired by the Bishop, who plays a relatively small role in the musical and film versions of the story, but figures much more prominently in the novel. The Bishop is a man of deep generosity and self-sacrifice, one whose life matches the gospel he preaches. In light of the Bishop, I see how often I live for my own advantage, rather than for the sake of others. I am drawn to live more graciously, more freely.I would like to think that, but too often I encounter people that are simply self-delusional. (Myself included on occasion.) They see themselves as Superman when they are acting like Lex Luthor. (In point of fact Luthor often deluded himself into thinking his crimes were for the good of mankind.) I wonder how many times people have read Crime and Punishment where Rashkolnikov is deluding himself towards murder and think "there but for the grace of God..." when they are equally delusional towards some other crime?
Art can be an incredibly useful tool for self-examination, but only when we are trained properly in how to use it as such. And only when our view of ourselves permits it. Sin is a pervasive and awful thing and it can corrupt this worthy practice as easily as it can any other.
art self-reflection truth