Friday, June 6, 2008

Abhoring Evil, Reading Novels

"Hate the sin, love the sinner." Although I am not convinced of the validity of this oft repeated phrase, it seems valuable for understanding how to live among a variety of mess-up people (our selves included), especially given the emphasis such writers as the apostle Paul put on love as the foundational Christian virtue.
This morning, as I read a bit of Charles Dicken's Oliver Twist, I became angry at the arrogance and cruelty of a character named Noah Claypole who continually harasses Oliver. Noah Claypole does not exist and never has; Noah is a fictional character. How can one be angry at something that does not exist? My anger was directed at past acts of cruelty that real human beings have performed. My anger was directed, not at specific people who have existed or currently exist, but at Noah as a representation of such abhorrent actions. And so, it seems that reading fictional novels allows for good practice in directing our abhorance toward the action as opposed to the one performing the action.