This isn't my usual "What I'm Reading" post because to be honest, the vast majority of what I've read lately has been pure fluffy garbage. My brain can't handle much else these days. But after watching a video of the 25th anniversary performance of Phantom of the Opera a few weeks ago I decided to download my favorite book to my Kindle. I've read the original Gaston LeRoux novel, and I've watched just about every adaptation on television, but my favorite version of this classic story is Phantom by Susan Kay. It tells the history of the the Opera Ghost, from his birth, and provides motivation and reason for his psychotic behavior. It's a fabulous book and I've worn out my paperback, reading it at least eight times. For the record, I wish I'd kept reading the paperback because the Kindle version is so full of typos it's embarrassing. It's like they scanned it with really bad OCR software and didn't bother to proof it afterwards. Awful. But that's not my point.
It's a long book and every time I read it I find something new that gets my attention. This time around it's been a quote that I posted on FB a few minutes ago:
"...men whose moral integrity I respected even as I pitied their religous misguidance. They had no hope of heaven, but here, on this earth, I saw no reason to deny them civility or friendship. I could not hate with the indiscriminating simplicity of my servant."
I posted that portion of it knowing it would be a bit misleading. The full quote I highlighted actually reads, "I shared his (the servant) beliefs, but not his contempt. I knew there was no God but Allah; I accepted that no infidel would ever be admitted to paradise - and yet I had made many friends in the Catholic missions in Persia, men whose moral integrity I respected even as I pitied their religous
misguidance. They had no hope of heaven, but here, on this earth, I saw
no reason to deny them civility or friendship. I could not hate with
the indiscriminating simplicity of my servant."
I should point out that each section of the book is written from a different POV. This section is in the voice of a security chief in Persia covering the years 1850-1853. The quote is from Nadir's trip to Russia in search of the great magician (Erik)to bring home to entertain the royal family. He and his servant are watching Christians in front of the churches on the road and making an observation that speaks more to Nadir's character than to any religious theme in the story.
Two things struck me about this quote. First, the irony that it's showing the disdain of Muslims for
Christians where here we tend to see the disdain of Christians for Muslims. Second, how often do we deny civility or friendship to people because we believe they have no hope of heaven? Is that our call? Too often we hate with indiscriminating simplicity. On this earth, we should offer that civility to everyone.