When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with musicals. In high school, we had a day called Enrichment Day. Every year, I picked to go to a musical on Broadway in New York City. Miss Saigon will forever be carved in my memory with the sight of a real helicopter coming down on stage. It may even have been the first theatrical production I ever cried at.
I was a member of chorus and the Thespian Society (yes, my brother made fun of me with a play on words for that one). The soundtracks to Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, as well as Miss Saigon could forever be heard coming from the stereo in my room, thanks to the public library system. I would borrow the records and record tapes of them before returning the records back to the library.
For my 18th birthday, my parents surprised me with tickets for the whole family to see Les Miserables. Unfortunately, the night before the show, my mother had a heart episode, and ended up in thehospital for observation, so my lucky father got to take us himself. I’m sure he was “thrilled.”
Most people know that Les Miserables, the musical, is based on a novel by Victor Hugo. I will admit to never having read the book. Yet. I’m pretty sure my father never read the book either. Although I knew every song, my 18 year old, very young and naïve self did not understand the play. I will confess that during the show, I was embarrassed to think to myself – this wasn’t what I expected, and I may have been a little bit bored with it. I felt bad that my father had to sit through it, considering he really wasn’t into the whole musical thing.
Fast forward to today. I do believe I watched the 1998 movie production of Les Miserables, but it didn’t have much of an effect on me, especially if I’m not sure I watched it! This evening, I went to the movies by myself, to see the newest production of Les Miserables, directed by Tom Hooper.
I have never been so moved by a movie. I am being honest. I know this is embarrassing to admit, but halfway through the movie it was suddenly revealed to me that this story is classic Scripture. This story is about Pharisees and publicans, about judgment, forgiveness and redemption. Many claim author Dostoevsky opened their hearts to God through books like Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. My eyes have been opened by Victor Hugo. It all makes sense to me now. I am shocked that I haven’t seen the glory of God in this story before now. I can’t put into words how I feel, but my Kindle is already open to the first pages of the novel, and I bid you all to take the time to do the same. Looking at my life so far, I see the work of God so clearly. Perhaps I saw it before, but today I look with more forgiveness and less judgment and I feel my life has been changed. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, forgive me a sinner. As St. Basil the Great said (in a nutshell), sometimes it is beneficial to read “pagan” (worldly) materials so that we may see God more clearly.