Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Count of Monte Cristo

I just finished reading the Count of Monte Cristo. Good book. I don't believe the core premise is correct, but nonetheless, it was enjoyable. Here are some quotes I found particularly interesting

"He recalled the prayers that his mother had taught him and discovered a significance in them that he had not previously understood: to a happy man, a prayer is a monotonous composition, void of meaning, until the day when suffering deciphers the sublime language through which the poor victim addresses God."

The scriptures also talk about this, that when we are prosperous, we do not believe we need God, so our prayers have no soul, no heart. It isn't until we are suffering in our own perceived pain that we cry with intent. It does not have to be that way. We can cry to God in the happiest of times, because the quest is not limited to requesting help from God, but to know God, as we do a friend. Relationships are often build in the best of times and strengthened in the worst of times.

"But man, man whom God made in His image, man to whom God gave this first, this sole, this supreme law, that he should love his neighbor, man to whom God gave a voice to express his thoughts - what is man's first cry when he learns that his neighbor is saved? A curse. All honor to man, the masterpiece of nature, the lord of creation.

He burst out laughing, but such a terrible laugh that one realized he must have suffered horribly to be able to laugh in such a way"

This caused me to pause and consider my innermost, unexpressed thoughts towards my fellow man, do I genuinely rejoice in their success, or do I hide a silent curse

Monte Cristo said: "you know that all human inventions progress from the complex to the simple and that perfection is always simplicity."

I fully believe this. Perfection is simplicity.

Villefort in response more to his own thoughts than to Mme Danglars' words: "'So it is true that every one of our actions leaves some trace on our past, either dark or bright. So it is true that every step we take is more like a reptile's progress across the sand, leaving a track behind it. And often, alas, the track is the mark of our tears!'"

Tears yes, but from where did they come? Joy or remorse? A wicked man will see the track of remorse throughout his life, how it all tied to his fall, a good man will probably see the joys and happiness throughout his life, how it all tied to his salvation

"'Those who are born with a silver spoon,' Emmanuel said, 'those who have never needed anything, do not understand what happiness is, any more than those who do not know the blessing of a clear sky and who have never entrusted their lives to four planks tossing on a ragging sea.'"

There is some truth here, that many take what we have for granted. But this is my primary disagreement with one of the assertions of the book, that suffereing is required to feel the highest happiness. It may be a beneficial comparison for an individuals reflection, but a life of suffering does not generally improve ones happiness later.

The entire turmoil with Maximillian and Valentine drove me crazy; when he thinks she is dead and the Count wants him to be in the uttermost despair before he reveals her to him.

Happiness and the quality of it is based on a growth in love and service, not sadness and loneliness. If I want to improve my happiness at home, I do not need to experience deprivation and loneliness to build it, I enjoy the people I'm with, love them, and serve them and that is how happiness grows.

The book caused me to ponder what things would be like for children raised after the coming of Christ. Or those who lived during the city of Enoch. Were they never happy because they knew less sin, war, hunger, disease? Seriously? Satan's plan, completely. There is a need for opposition to allow us to choose. But there is not a need for opposites to make us stronger. The opposites are merely the result of our choice with the opposing forces. We choose God or Satan, we receive happiness or sadness based on that choice. Depth of loss does not ensure we will achieve the equal level of happiness. They are on different scales. Sadness vs. happiness depends on the choice of who we follow, what we believe, and how we live. The most destitute can be the happiest of all. The wealthiest can be the saddest of all.

1 comment:

Anna Marie said...

Wow, Curtis. Thanks for your insights. They were very profound, and brought a tear to my eye. Good things for us to think about--especially the one about prayer.