A Continuation of the Previous


A Continuation of the Previous in which the Author Attempts To Put His Brain Back Together

Okay, so I made my initial point about Chesterton--we are not temperamentally suited for one another. I do not share his enthusiasms and he would laugh at mine.

However, I was reading Pearce's biography this morning and reflecting on Chesterton's near-worship of Dickens. This led me to think about Dickens-related things, and ultimately to Sir Carol Reed's magnificent screen musical interpretation of Oliver Twist--Oliver!

Now, this movie brings back any number of memories for me. The first being seeing it when it first came out as part of a summer camp experience. I don't know that we were able to stay for the entire film because the councilors quit work at a certain time, and the film is somewhat long, but I do recall hearing and liking a couple of the songs. Relevant to my thoughts now are two of these. If you have not seen Oliver! do yourself a favor and seek it out. The portrayal of Fagin is not nearly so overtly anti-Semitic as I recall (perhaps quite unfairly) Dickens being. What I recall of reading Oliver Twist is that Fagin was much reviled as a dirty "Jew." But that could have been the influence of my teachers, so please don't take this at face value, only as a vague and distasteful recollection.

The two relevant songs are quite wonderful--"Where is Love?" and "As Long As He Needs Me." Now, I think if I were doing another (Heaven forbid) Sister Act, I might consider these two songs for treatment. Oliver sings, "Where is Love?" I would have to review the movie to relate the circumstances, but given the plaintive sound, I suspect that it was in quite forlorn circumstances. But sometimes I ask myself, "Where is Love?" Where is the love we are supposed to show to one another? Did I do so today? I can tell you that I didn't fail as mightily as I did yesterday, and yet, I doubt I have done nearly what was set out for me to do. It is my hope that anyone who came within my circle of influence would never have cause to sing this song, that they would know that Love was wherever I was. Today that is not true. But I know that is what I am called to. There is no doubt, we are all called to be saints, and to be saints we are all to be exemplars of God's caring compassion not just when we give a thought to it, but all the time.

The second song, is lovelier taken out of context. Within in context it is one of those songs that makes me cringe because it is sung by Nancy just after she's been beaten by Bill Sykes and seems to diminish his culpability in the abuse he has rained upon her. The result is a song in which while she doesn't quite justify her abuse, she resolves to remain within the abusive situation because her love can change it. Ultimately, that proves not to be true, and in a truly heroic act of love she. . . well--watch the movie. Anyway, her love cannot change Bill Sykes, nor can the human expression of love we show to one another truly change anyone because our love is needy, we need something back from it. Our promise of love, as much as we would like it to be pure, comes with all manner of strings attached. If we are not treated in the way that we feel we ought to be, we become hurt and withdrawn. However, "As Long As He Needs Me" is true if the love we are showing is God's love. If we are in a difficult relationship or situation (but not one that ends in abuse or harm to one or other person) and we determine to stay there because we are called to loyalty to our vows, or out of true God-given love, the love of Christ may change that situation. I think of Elizabeth LeSeur, who all her life lived with an atheist husband, loving him as a wife should love a husband, praying constantly for his conversion. After her death her husband became a priest. This is the kind of love that transforms. If our love becomes detached from earthly expectations and serves only our Heavenly Father's will, that love becomes transformative. So Nancy's forlorn hope becomes the promise fulfilled for those who love and pray with God's love. We need not stand by and be used and abused by those we love, but we must always love them with the passionate love of Jesus Christ on the cross. We must stand ready to help those we love to salvation, sometimes at great personal cost. In fact, we must stand ready to help those we don't particularly care for with the same sense of sacrifice. That is the country of saintliness.

Bookmark and Share



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 8, 2002 6:09 PM.

A Curious Reflection I've been was the previous entry in this blog.

For Science Fiction Fans This is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll