Sunday, July 09, 2006

"It was odd...this fury to deface..."

I'm reading Graham Green's The Power and the Glory right now. It's about the religious persecutions in Mexico, set in the 1930s. (As an aside, from what I've read so far, I'm inclined not to recommend this even for upper high school students, even though it's a worthwhile book for adults.)

The author paints a slow, subtle picture of life for the ordinary people in Mexico during this time. Here is a minute sample:

One of the oddest things about the world these days was that there were no clocks - you could go a year without hearing one strike. They went with the churches, and you were left with the grey slow dawns and the precipitate nights as the only measurements of time.

Amidst this desolation, the main character, a hunted priest with a sinful, haunting past, comes across the old cemetary where his parents are buried, a cemetary now broken with vandalism and desecration:

The wall of the burial-ground had fallen in: one or two crosses had been smashed by enthusiasts: an angel had lost one of its stone wings, and what grave-stones were left undamaged leant at an acute angle in the long marshy grass. One image of the Mother of God had lost ears and arms and stood like a pagan Venus over the grave of some rich, forgotten timber merchant. It was odd - this fury to deface, because, of course, you could never deface enough. If God had been like a toad, you could have rid the globe of toads, but when God was like yourself, it was no good being content with stone figures - you had to kill yourself among the graves.

It's a common theme throughout history. Keep fighting against the thing you simply can't escape. One modern example is the insistence on using B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) and C.E.(Common Era) in place of B.C. and A.D. I know people get really angry about these things, but to me it's sadly laughable. Yes, it is an attempt to take God out of the picture, but instead it almost highlights further the centrality of the Incarnation. They can't really rid the calendar of this recognition even if they try to hide it in a thin veneer. All they're really doing is giving different names to a system, ingrained in our culture, steeped in Christianity, that perpetually bows to the Word made flesh.


electroblogster said...

" a system, ingrained in our culture, steeped in Christianity, that perpetually bows to the Word made flesh."

A nicely turned phrase!

... and a worthy sentiment too!!

Love2Learn Mom said...

Thanks dear! :)

Fish CampMore said...

Fr. Mitch Pacwa dedicated a whole show on his "EWTN LIVE" program to Mexican Martyrs. I highly recommend it. You can download it here.

Love2Learn Mom said...

Thanks for sharing that! I'll take a look at it soon. We don't have cable, so it's really nice to get tips for things like that on the Internet and on Netflix.

Fish CampMore said...

Ditto. No cable here and we're Netflix folks, too. (A recent favorite is Howl's Moving Castle.)

I just tried the link I put up and it doesn't seem to work. Just go to EWTN's site, go to the audio library search, and plug in "EWTN Live". The Mexican Martyrs show should come up right there on top. It's very interesting.

Love2Learn Mom said...

Did you know they have Dale Ahlquist's Apostle of Common Sense series (at least the first season) from EWTN at Netflix? We really enjoyed that.

Fish CampMore said...

Yup. It actually helped get my wife into Chesterton. :-) Did you know that you can download both seasons (audio) from EWTN for free, convert them to mp3 files, and either load them on an mp3 player or burn them on CD? In fact, you can do that with ALL the thousands of hours of talks at the EWTN audio library. (That's the very reason that I got an mp3 player.) It's great for long (or short) trips in the car, and for guys like me who do mindless manual labor. Of course, you can listen to any show from your computer w/o bother with downloading or converting the files. It's a great resource. They bring in some great people to do some really good series...such as Alquist!