Thursday, December 8, 2011

Revenge is Not So Sweet

Aaaaand a little more bookishness.

At the breakfast table, the children and I are reading the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis. Lo and behold, we stumble across the very verse I've been mulling over ever since I finally finished The Count of Monte Cristo.

I look up. I offer them a tidbit of story, and next thing you know, they're begging for details, and their eyes widen as I describe a prisoner, hurtling through the night air in a body bag, landing with a splash in the sea, fighting to cut his own ropes free and disappear into the night, memory, oblivion. There's a huge treasure, I tell them. And while everyone believes him dead, he goes to find it. And then the rest of his life begins.

 Not for nothing is it called the Greatest Revenge Story Ever Told. (In fact, at one point my Kindle margin note simply reads: "DUDE." I am quite profound that way.)

Here's Edmond Dantes [betrayed and wrongfully imprisoned as a young, talented, beloved and faultless man] toward the end of his story: "Still I was but an agent, led on by an invisible and offended Deity, who chose not to withhold the fatal blow that I was destined to hurl."

And here's Joseph, son of Jacob [betrayed and wrongfully imprisoned as a young, talented, beloved and faultless man[ toward the end of his: "Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Gen. 50:19-20)

The contrast can't be more striking, and it comes down to this, I tell the children: Do we believe that being God is our job, or His? Do we believe His heart is always good toward us, so that out of a temporary evil can come a greater good? Or do we believe He stays distant, watching us hurt one another and expecting us to skillfully execute His justice on one another?

Ever been thrown into a dungeon?
No? Your siblings aren't that rotten?
How about betrayal? How about injustice? How about accusations? How about hurt?
Ever been a victim?

The path of Dantes leads to death, madness, separation, sorrow -- and for the avenger, a "yawning abyss of doubt." The path of Joseph leads to a harvest of grain that feeds an entire nation for seven years, reunites a family, and blesses an empire.

Which do we choose?

And that's what I love about reading the classics. God speaks in many portions and in many ways, doesn't He?

P.S. If you've never read The Count, but have seen the movie, please, please, remedy that situation. There is no way a two-hour movie, even if it's good, IF it stars the dazzling Jim Caviezel, can do justice to such a book. Get your Caviezel from weekly episodes of Person of Interest instead ... and Then let's talk about it!


  1. Very good contrast!

    And all your talk of late about The Count has definitely made me want to read it. I remember watching the movie the first time and just LOVING it. And at that time, I told myself I'd read the book. I even acquired the book once, but I never started. But I shall read it, I say. I shall!

  2. I loved your post. :) I'm pretty sure I said 'DUDE' a few times myself. Ha! So glad you enjoyed the book. It has one of the best intricate plots EVER. There is no way that a movie could come anywhere close. Even if Jim Caviezel is lovely.

  3. M'kay, I'm raising my hand sheepishly as one who's never read the book. You've convinced me to add it to my 2012 list.