Defending the Faith: 'Les Miserables' teaches how God's truth is lovable

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  • kargirl Sacramento, CA
    Dec. 23, 2012 12:37 a.m.

    Or perhaps Victor Hugo had his characters do what authors often do--experience vicariously the life of their creator? Here is a thought..they were made to walk a mile in anothers' shoes, so to speak, in that book, and in doing so, do what many of us in real life do--change and either regress or grow as we choose to do. Or sadly, become so dismayed in our finding the world not to fit into the mold we tried to make it fit into that we simply disintegrated. Just something to leave my fellow commenters with...

  • fkratz Portland, OR
    Dec. 21, 2012 3:20 p.m.

    Is it possible that some viewing "Les Miserables" would not be reminded of our homesickness for God or redemption but simply reminded of our desire for love, peace, truth, justice and equality for ourselves and fellow travelers? Could Thenardier, the grave robbing urchin be righted by a truly caring and egalitarian society, by education, by public works?

    Victor Hugo's religious tendencies changed radically over his lifetime. Later in his life, he may have been influenced by the many injustices and disregard for the disenfranchised he witnessed at the hands of the Church. And like Voltaire, became more freethinking and less enamored of organized religion and its dogma.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Dec. 21, 2012 2:48 p.m.

    @ Red Headed Stranger “If Dan Peterson were to write…”

    Point taken – but none of those things are offensive. Dr. Peterson writes some good articles but he often says things that are offensive and just plain wrong. For example unlike Hugo and even Tolkien, I don’t know of anyone who thinks the Narnia books are “brilliantly written.” They are entertaining children’s stories with large helpings of not-so-subtle religious allegory. The writing is at best serviceable… it’s not literature.

    But one thing Dr. Peterson continues to do is imply that only believers in God (no doubt the God of Abraham) can be decent and moral. Note his citing of the “brutish and amoral” innkeeper and even his placement of the word “abortive” in that paragraph. For the naive and undiscerning, the subliminal message is atheists are brutish, amoral and like abortions. Or maybe I give him too much credit…

    But I’ll give credit where it is due – the last two paragraphs of this article are wonderfully written.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 4, 2012 7:12 p.m.

    RE: Bill in Nebraska, Paradise is a place of waiting just as spirit prision is.

    Wrong,The word "paradise" is found several times in the O.T. . The LORD(YHWH) God planted a garden(paradeisos, G# 3857) eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.(Gen 2:8 Septuagint). The LORD(YHWH) … Garden(paradeisos of Eden …( Gen2:15 Septuagint) ….And they heard the voice of the LORD(YHWH) God walking in the garden (paradeisos,)n in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD(YHWH) God amongst the trees of the garden.(Gen 3:8).

    Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again=(Anothen,from above).[John 3:3)

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Dec. 4, 2012 11:23 a.m.

    Not a FACT: " Jesus answered, verily,verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God". (John 3:5) Jesus fulfilled righteousness when he who was without sin was baptized by JOhn the Baptist, having the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood to do so. Christ further went on later to indicate that John the Baptist was a greater prophet than even Moses or Abraham.

    So to say it isn't a fact is a total lie.

    Paradise is a place of waiting just as spirit prision is. Both places is where our spirits go after our life here on earth as we prepare for the final judgement. Doctrine & Covenants Section 138 spells this out as does Peter. Those who want to just say it is a belief are incorrect and are following in the manner that Korihor stated in the Book of Mormon. Satan uses the same falsehoods throughout time to mislead and to lie to the the Children of God. This is why those who adhere to these falsehoods become the pawns of Satan and his leaders upon this earth.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Dec. 3, 2012 10:57 a.m.

    Bill in Nebraska - you forgot to mention in your rant about being baptized by proper authority etc, etc that that is your opinion. Nothing you said can be counted as fact. You may believe them, and your church may claim it is doctrine but that is where it ends. You don't have universal say over everybody else to tell them what has to be done. Baptism and the holy ghost is required in your belief system, but that does not make it fact. So please quit stating it as such.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 2, 2012 8:43 p.m.

    RE: Bill in Nebraska "Charity is the pure love of Christ" is in the Book of Mormon and is found no where else in scripture. True, (Moroni 7:47) see Love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Accurate modern translations, Example verse 13 , So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. KJV, NIV, NLT.

    There several different Greek words for love JS was unaware. God’s pure Love=(agape). Romance(eros). Friendship(Phileo)Like Philadelphia.

    RE: Holy Ghost,S/B spirit(pneuma),poor KJV translation.
    There are exceptions without baptism ( Luke 23:43) Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” And (Mosiah 4:3)…and it came to pass that after they had spoken these word, the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received the remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience. because of exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ…

    Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Dec. 2, 2012 5:34 p.m.

    Sharrona just as everyone says, "You can leave the Church but you can leave the Church alone." You constantly try to use the Biblical translations to prove the Book of Mormon wrong. Yet, the bible was written in both Hebrew and Greek. Yet they are translations and not one translation is greater than the other in most circumstances. However, the Book of Mormon has only one translation. The verse, "Charity is the pure love of Christ" is in the Book of Mormon and is found no where else in scripture. However, the Book of Mormon is Reformed Egyptian. There is to many things that points to the Book of Mormon being exactly what Joseph Smith said it was, a history of the people that lived in the American Hemisphere. It is also Another Testament of the Lord Jesus Christ, solidifying his role as the Redeemer, Savior and our moderator with the Father. Christ himself tells you in the Bible that a man can not enter into the Kingdom of God with first being baptized and second receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost yet you still try to argue that.

    Everyone must be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Dec. 2, 2012 3:15 p.m.

    RE: Bill in Nebraska, pure love, as Charity is the pure love of Christ?

    Charity is a(12th c) Latin Vulgate word and a poor KJV translation of love(agape). The Love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Accurate modern translations, Example verse 13 , So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. KJV, NIV, NLT. JS was unaware.

    @One must be baptized by one having proper authority and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost otherwise you cannot and will not enter into Kingdom of God??
    Christ, the object of his faith, Bartimaeus was made *whole,(“saved,sozo“)both in soul and body; and had his spiritual sight, before he had his bodily sight, and both from Christ: (Mark 10:52) ' *persistent faith in Jesus is exemplary for those who "have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).
    Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. Twas blind but now I see.

  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    Dec. 2, 2012 10:31 a.m.

    Bro. Peterson: Thank you for your gift of focus.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 1, 2012 11:24 p.m.

    @old coug
    and your point being? believe it or not being a moralist and being Christian are far from synonymous. it does not change tolstoy"s point. Jean was a good man and moral man when he stole the bread but to feed his family. the constable chancing him only could see a thief and a criminal. the constable viewed the world in very black and white terms. jean while running from the constable almost gave into this view when he was unable to make and honest living because of the ay society viewed him. At the last moment the priest prevents Jean from giving into the view that the world is black and white. the constable at the end of the book kills himself after he realizes that his world view that there is only good and evil comes crashing down around him. Now you tell me which one sounds like a Christian view and which does not? the man that sees the world in terms of good and evil with no room for other or the good but poor man that stole to feed his family.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Dec. 1, 2012 9:55 p.m.

    Actually what matters more than anything when it comes to our Heavenly Father and his only begotten son, Jesus Christ is if we show our love to them. Sure showing pure love, as Charity is the pure love of Christ. However, one must be baptized by one having proper authority and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost otherwise you can not and will not enter into Kingdom of God. Christ taught that if you love me keep my commandments. As he stated to Peter after his resurrection what I have made clean then you can eat. This included pork, shell fish and other items because of the Law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ. THe Gospel and Doctrine of Christ is clear and those who mock the Church of Jesus Christ shall be on the outside looking in. The Church of Jesus Christ has only one baptism and that is by immersion, and only one faith. Not the many that others project. So as has been said if you are not with me you are against me as Christ taught.

  • Red Headed Stranger Billy Bobs, TX
    Dec. 1, 2012 7:30 p.m.

    And here we go again. . .

    If Dan Peterson were to write, "I like puppies" some people would criticize him for being insensitive to Guinea Pig fans.

    If Dan Peterson were to write, "I saw a beautiful rainbow this morning" some people would criticize him for being insensitive to those who work swing shift and are asleep.

    If Dan Peterson were to write, "My wife made a great blueberry pie" some people would criticize him for not being insensitive to type II diabetics who live an alternative lifestyle.

    Hey some people, not everything has to be a fight.

  • oldcougar Orem, UT
    Dec. 1, 2012 10:24 a.m.

    Here, from a scholar, is what the real Tolsoy thought of Victor Hugo and Les Miserables:

    Victor Hugo and the Two Tolstoys

    Amit Majmudar
    May 10, 2012

    One of the keys to Tolstoy is his early admiration of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. The young Tolstoy visited Hugo during a trip to Europe; the young Russian Count read and admired Les Miserables before he wrote War and Peace...

    Hugo’s novels are, in some ways, the kind of fiction Tolstoy wanted to write. Hugo is a moralist writing in novel form; his sympathy with and understanding of the plight of the poor, lower-class, and unfortunate (les miserables) is deeply felt and morally profound. In Hugo, the didactic and artistic tendencies work in unison.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Dec. 1, 2012 9:13 a.m.

    The conflict of this book and play is, Mercy verses Justice. On one hand you have the inflexible Javert, who is a good man, but consumed by the letter of the law. On the other hand, Valjean has experienced pure mercy without regard for Justice. At the end of the play, Javert shows mercy and can't live with it because it conflicts with his belief system. Valjean at the end understands the relationship between both. Awesome. Great article.

  • gcrobmd GADSDEN, AL
    Dec. 1, 2012 8:45 a.m.

    Right on, Bro. Peterson.

    The Twilight series resonates with many because of themes of pure love (putting your love’s feelings and welfare above your own), sacrifice, and even solving problems without violence if at all possible. That ending received applause from the audience.

    The war in heaven predicts we humans will resist being controlled by outside forces. So we hate the thought of being Borg from Star Trek, and other tales of alien possession where we lose our agency.

    Stories of heroism emulate our greatest hero, Jesus, who died to save us all.

    Stories of healing are always appealing. The ultimate healing and transformation, the Phoenix-like rising from the death---these stories are always hits, such as Twilight and Avatar.

    These themes are ingrained, and we recognize them, because we shouted for joy as the first story unfolded at the foundation of the world.

    Authors in the past, such as Hugo, Lewis and Tolkien, were not afraid to write about these things.

  • jttheawesome Scranton, PA
    Nov. 30, 2012 8:26 p.m.

    I look forward to seeing the upcoming film. As long as Les Miserables was on Broadway, I never did get to see it. I am, however, re-reading the book after a long absence. I get lost in some of the "bunny trails" Hugo takes me on in 19'th century France, but it's still a great place to "visit" and experience again.

  • Dayzd Salem, OR
    Nov. 30, 2012 11:35 a.m.

    I hope we can agree that both the novel and the musical can provide both entertainment and food for thought and inspiration whatever our biases. The book though not a quick read is worth the effort and is richer in content than the play. No matter how many times I view Lea Salonga's uber-emotional performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" at the 25th anniversary concert I am moved to tears; as well as "Bring Him Home".

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    Nov. 30, 2012 9:58 a.m.

    the writer of this article demonstrates the ver reason I do not care for this play. the watered down way the play is presented allows for strange translations of a very complex work by a man that was very devoutly a populist that would not have looked favorably on anyone trying to use his works to promote establishments such as modern organized religion. please read the orginal writings of Hugo they are very different from the watered down versions you see on stage and in film.

  • IrishLDS Castleknock, Dublin
    Nov. 30, 2012 8:37 a.m.

    Since our relationships with others matter above all things ... it may matter a great deal what cars we drove, what clothes we wore, what work we did and especially what lifestyle we led - all of these can affect our relationships with others. Especially if, for example the cars and clothes don't belong to us! ;)

    I think God may be much more interested in our 'lifestyle' that we tend to think. Is that one of the hopes expressed in Les Miserables? How we live here affects how we live there.

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Nov. 29, 2012 8:45 p.m.

    johanBjorn, my computer must not be working correctly, so I'm asking for your help. It seems to have cut off the paragraph of Peterson's article where he claimed that all atheists are amoral. And, oddly, the paper version of his column that arrived at my house this morning ALSO lacks that paragraph. (Go figure!) Could you please quote it here?

  • johanBjorn Salt lake city, UT
    Nov. 29, 2012 5:27 p.m.

    I don't appreciate the 'stark contrast' you outline by mentioning the innkeeper.

    Yes, he was a thief, and possibly Atheist, but don't paint us all with such a broad brush. That's the same thing as saying all religious people are righteous and good and just.

    I'm an Atheist, and proud of it. I hold myself to a high standard of morals, and many of my peers do as well.

    Please don't assume we're all amoral. It's not like that.

    Thank you.

    Nov. 29, 2012 4:47 p.m.

    Interesting take on a story by a man that was a devote Populist and humanist.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Nov. 29, 2012 4:36 p.m.


    Thirty years from now, when I look back, it won't matter what I ate for dinner tonight...but for now, I'm very excited to head home, fire up the grill, and eat a delicious New York steak.

    That's sort of how I feel about the "when we look back" comments. In hindsight many things that bring us temporary happiness do not factor into our future happiness, but what is missed is that most of what we call happiness is nothing but a string of punctuated happinesses like the clothes we wear temporarilly, and the car's we drive temporarilly. Families and relationships matter too, it's just not a zero sum game inspite of all the altruism suggesting otherwise.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Nov. 29, 2012 3:13 p.m.

    This book illustrates so well the value and power of living a good life and the power of godly love. Jean Valjean shows how interesting a character can be who is striving to live life according to his conscience. Our culture seems to be absorbed in characters that push the limits. Jean Valjean's also a great contrast with Javert who lives by the letter of the law and is destroyed by his zeal.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    Nov. 29, 2012 2:37 p.m.

    What matters most in this life is how we treat others, most especially our family members.

    When we die, and if there be life after death, it won't matter what cars we drove, what clothes we wore, where we lived, nor what our lifestyle was, which church we knew was true, nor what we did for work. What will matter most are our relationships we had with our family members.

    Love for family and for others trump all other attributes and principles of life.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Nov. 29, 2012 12:25 p.m.

    RE: Defending the[Christian]Faith: 'They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord, they will walk behind the ploughshare, they will put away the sword.

    In Luke 23:43,where Jesus on the cross says to the thief, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise". 2 Corinthians 12:2-4,where Paul alludes to his vision of the third heaven and also to paradise; and Revelation 2:7,which describes the righteous who partake of the tree of life in the midst of God's paradise. (Heaven)
    … beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. — Isaiah 2:4 (return of Christ)

  • SoCalChris Riverside, CA
    Nov. 29, 2012 11:20 a.m.

    Yes please give Victor Hugo his due. Les Miserables is possibly the finest novel ever written.

  • red84604 Fruit Heights, UT
    Nov. 29, 2012 8:59 a.m.

    The two catchiest contemporary tunes I can think of are Carly Rae Jepson's "Call Me Maybe" and Taylor Swift's "We are never getting back together." Will someone please post a video response to this and put a hymn to one of those tunes? That would make my whole month!

  • oldcougar Orem, UT
    Nov. 29, 2012 7:49 a.m.

    Thanks for a fine message. I love the story and the music too. Don't forget Victor Hugo in your praise!