I’m nearly finished with The Poisonwood Bible and am beginning to read it slowly. I dread the prospect of a good story’s end.
Good stories don’t necessarily teach tidy lessons. Lame stories and sermons do that.
Good stories open the world to us and they open us up to ourselves. They cast fresh light on life’s complexities, turning them before our eyes so we see them anew.
And they expose our souls’ dark corners, our hidden contradictions, the mysteries of our lives and loves.
This novel does that in so many painful and beautiful ways.
There are a thousand things to say about the passage below and the conversation of which it is part. I had to read through it slowly several times.
The heart of the novel wonderfully captures the tragedies of a romantic naiveté that feels like faith, the grim realities of walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and the feeling of being abandoned by God.
But Anatole said suddenly, “Don’t expect God’s protection in places beyond God’s dominion. It will only make you feel punished. I’m warning you. When things go badly, you will blame yourself.”
“What are you telling me?”
“I am telling you what I’m telling you. Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you are good, bad things can still happen. And if you are bad, you can still get lucky.”