Thursday, March 05, 2009

Dying for the half-hearted and the corrupt

A priest is trying to escape from his sick captor, who is lying on the ground holding his ankle and decides at that moment to make his confession:

"Shall I tell you what I've done? - it's your business to listen. I've taken money from women to do you know what [...] I've given money to boys - you know what I mean. And I've eaten meat on Fridays." The awful jumble of the gross, the trivial, and the grotesque shot up between the two yellow fangs, and the hand on the priest's ankle shook and shook with the fever. "I've told lies, I haven't fasted in Lent for I don't know how many years. Once I had two women - I'll tell you what I did..." He had an immense self-importance: he was unable to picture a world of which he was only a typical part - a world of treachery, violence and lust in which his shame was altogether insignificant. How often the priest had heard the same confession - Man was so limited: he hadn't even the ingenuity to invent a new vice: the animals knew as much. It was for this world that Christ had died: the more evil you saw and heard about you, the greater glory lay around the death; it was too easy to die for what was good or beautiful, for home or children or a civilization - it needed a God to die for the half-hearted and the corrupt.

- Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory (Penguin, 1962 [1940]), 97.

Sin is boring, repetitive, old. God says, "Behold, I make all things new!"
Photo by Greg Fox.

7 comments:

Anthony Douglas said...

Hence, 'let him who is without sin cast the first stone'...

Nice quote.

Andrew said...

I'm assuming you don't mean new sin. Nice quote though.

byron smith said...

Andrew - I'm not sure there is such a thing. One way of understanding sin is behaviour that belong to the age that is passing away. Thus, it is old by definition.

That said, Paul does speak about people who invent ways of doing evil in Romans 1.30...

stef said...

sadly, there are no points for this photo - since i know where its from and think that greg actually took it! the beach before st ninian's cave of the famed but yet unseen crosses...

hope things are going well, we're off to viet nam in 2 weeks! (the space in deliberate, since i have learnt that all vietnamese words are only one syllable - sort of, as tones stretch some things out a little for the syllabic purists!)

stef.

byron smith said...

Stef - I didn't offer because you and Greg would be the only people with any chance at getting it! And yes, it is Greg's photo. I missed the attribution on it. Now fixed.

D.W. Funkhauser III said...

Eddie Izzard: "I committed an original sin! I poked a badger with a spoon!"

byron smith said...

:-) Very good.