Why I Loved Les Mis

The 2012 movie version of Les Miserables reminds me of the reception of Mumford & Sons’ latest album.  Throngs of adoring fans, having awaited the releases for some time, made both huge commercial successes, both were then widely panned by critics for being too earnest (and thus unbelievable), and both were sorta Christian.  The differences are important too. Whereas Babel generated a surprisingly hostile review from a significant number of critics, Les Miserables is holding out at a respectable 70% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been nominated for 8 Academy Awards.  Another key difference, from my point of view at least, is that I mostly didn’t like Mumford’s new album (really liked the first one, but am now a little worn out by the monotony), but I absolutely loved Les Miserables.  I came very close to feeling those dreaded emotions after watching it, and you can ask around, that’s not a common occurrence for me.

Now, I’ve read a lot of criticisms of Les Miserables.  The New Yorker, somewhat predictably, turned their collective noses up at it.  Anthony Lane did his usual cynical routine, and David Denby, usually the good cop, was even worse, saying that, “It’s terrible; it’s dreadful. Overbearing, pretentious, madly repetitive.”  Oh well.  At least Adam Gopnik liked it.  I’m not too bothered by The New Yorker.  It’s a publication for people who think of themselves as intellectuals, which is a distinct group, actually, from mere intellectuals.

More relevant to my circles, and more directly challenging towards my own sentiments, are those critiques coming from Christian viewers.  I’ve seen the basic concern that Victor Hugo was himself not a Christian, along with other criticisms about the too-heavy emotions of the movie, the perils of Romanticism, and the overshadowing of any true message of grace by a sort of Enlightenment humanism.  Here I was thinking that I’d seen a profound presentation of the impossibility of lawbut perhaps I’d been mistaken.  What are we to think of these observations? Continue reading

Death is Swallowed Up in Victory

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Continue reading

Pro-Life Principles- The Ethical Questions

As we noted in the previous post, the abortion discussion can be divided into two parts: the ethical and the political.  These are not unrelated questions, but they are distinct.  So first, the ethical-

Is abortion moral? 

This question is the elephant in the room.  Almost no one in the pro-choice camp is willing to answer in the affirmative.  They will always say that abortion is to be regretted, yet there are other influential factors that may make certain abortions morally justifiable.

We can already anticipate more questions, but we must not run off just yet.  Let’s stick to this one question.  Is abortion moral?  Or rather, is it moral to end the life of (kill) a human entity (person?  being?  life?) prior to its birth? Continue reading

Pro-Life Principles- A Prolegomena

The fallout from Proposition 26 has been very revealing.  The measure was defeated by a sizable majority, and there are various theories as to just what was its downfall.  “Overreaching” seems to be the consensus explanation, but I think the problem is more basic.  It was seen as overreaching because it implicated a variety of issues and practices that the average “pro-life” Christian was not prepared to question.  Almost everyone in the great state of Mississippi is “pro-life.”  It’s really quite polite to be so.  But it is a much smaller percentage who are willing to condemn abortifacient birth control, and still fewer of that group are ready to say that certain advances in “reproductive technology” violate the natural law.  Perhaps, and a bit more understandably, legal “personhood” is also too difficult of a concept to apply to entities that do not yet exist within the immediate jurisdiction of the state.

While I supported Prop. 26 and am still convinced that it was a morally justified position, I am willing to have the conversation about each of these issues.  From my own perspective, I am convinced that the ethical questions will always have a singular answer, however, the prudential political questions may vary depending upon our context and ability.  Still, what I saw more than anything else was a failure on the part of the citizenry to articulate clear principles and to explain why they would support one practice yet condemn another.  We did not have our first principles in order, nor did we quite know how the law ought to work in support of those principles.

Because of this, I would like to have an extended conversation about these matters.  I want to examine those principles, as well as ask certain key questions as to why people think and decide as they do.  Continue reading