John 3:19b - people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
I just finished reading John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.
What is our fascination with darkness? Why are we deeply moved by the seemingly hopeless?
Other than Steinbeck's ability to make craft of the written word, why is our society so enamored with the hopelessly lonely characters in this tale?
King Solomon of old proclaimed that life is vanity, and from this a whole style of art, called Vanitas, was produced.
When I was growing up, whenever a dream was dashed, my father would proclaim, "Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men". At the time, I had no idea what he meant.
Steinbeck, it seems, took the title of his book from the 18th century poet, Robert Burns:
"...But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!..."
And in the text, Steinbeck's character Crooks proclaims:
"I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an' on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an' that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an' they quit an' go on; an' every damn one of 'em's got a little piece of land in his head. An' never a damn one of 'em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Everybody wants a little piece of lan'. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It's just in their head. They're all the time talkin' about it, but it's jus' in their head."
It would seem that Steinbeck's text agrees with another maxim of my father:
"Life's a bitch, and then you die."
When I was a much younger man, I proclaimed a lofty dream to my father, and he laughed. It was if he was saying, "who are you to have such dreams". I was deeply hurt, and from that day forward vowed to prove my father wrong.
Therefore, as I read Steinbeck, I see the darkness, I see the dashed dreams, I see the evil, I see our human natures, but I shake my fist to my father and scream, at the top of my lungs...NO!
Thankfully, no...wondrously, and mysteriously, God has captured my soul, and put therein a hope, a dream that will not be dashed.
Therefore, as I peered into the mind of Steinbeck in this book, I felt a certain sadness for those who do not possess "that great hope" of mankind. I am once again brought to consider my neighbor, who shared with me one night, of the hopelessness of his agnosticism.
Therefore, I must conclude that a novel that only knows of God's name to be used in vain, is most certainly going to produce hopelessness, fear, and abandonment.
To that end, Steinbeck has accomplished his task, and I can only hope that this was not a mirror of his soul.
A good friend of mine mentioned that he found himself crying at the conclusion of this novel. When we compare the darkness presented in this novel, as compared to the light, and hope presented by Christ, one can only find great distress for those in the darkness.
Furthermore, as we are constantly in battle with our flesh, this overbearing sadness, and loneliness is ever-present.
I must confess, if I occasion even the slightest memory of this mindset from my father, I am most quickly, and assuredly brought to tears.
Therefore, I say to myself: "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." (Psalm 42:11)