I just finished an excellent novel last night by the Canadian writer David Adams Richards, Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down
. It is the story of Jerry Bines, a man with a rough history who tries to come back to his home town as a man intent on being good. It's a great read.
When I finished the book, I had this nagging feeling that it reminded me of another story. Finally this morning it struck me that it reminded me of the film, The History of Violence
, by another Canadian, David Cronenberg. This is the graphic and gripping story of Tom, a used-to-be violent and brutal man who retreats to a small town to live a good, normal, family-man kind of life.
Both are stories of men who try to change and be good people. The problem is that others will not allow them. The language of their histories speaks louder than the language of their present lives. Essentially, they are not allowed to change. Their personalities are permanently cast.
I am struck by how Jesus didn't peg people forever. One minute he would call Peter a rock, another minute a coward, another minute Satan. Peter was allowed to change. In other words, he was free. He was free to be who he was at any given moment. It wasn't fatalistically determined who he should or shouldn't be. This is the challenge: to love the person presently before you as the person presently before you, and not the person she was yesterday. Can love do anything else?
The fine art photograph is the creation of my friend Jorgen Klausen
, and is from his Mask series.