“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Phantom of the Opera

This past weekend, my daughter Amy and I went to see "The Phantom of the Opera." We both loved it. I recognize that it is just a story, but there were many aspect of the story which made me think.

The loving character of Christine, the Phantom's love interest, toward him is really interesting. At one point she speaks of how his exterior is not what alarms her, but rather the way his soul has become. We learn from the movie that his soul is what it is largely because of the treatment he received as a child, being put on display and abused. On one level, he is able to overcome the abuse he faced and develops a relationship with her, originally as her "angel of music" and later he attempts to become her lover. She has fallen in love with someone else, and at a critical point in the movie, the Phantom tells her he will kill her love interest if she doesn't abandon him and love him (the Phantom) instead. She chooses to go with the Phantom to save her lover, but prays that God will give her the ability to love him (the Phantom) if she makes the committment to him. After a kiss from her, the Phantom realizes that he loves her, and releases her from the bargain so that she can go with the man she loves. In a remarkable show of love toward the Phantom, she goes back to him and places a ring in his hand, given to her by the man she loves.

This interaction between Christine and the Phantom was a wonderful example of understanding someone who has been devastated by the cruelty of society over a disability. Through her kindness, his love for her grows although he must ultimately let her go. With that in mind, the final scene is particularly poignant.

I have run across persons with disability in my life, who literally hated the church because of the interactions they have had with Christians. Sometimes the church can be even more hurtful than the world, particularly toward those who have a desire to belong to the church. But true love on the part of the church toward those with disability can at times heal the pain of the past. Like the Phantom stewed as he observed the interactions at the opera house, there are those with disability, or family or friends of persons with disability who stew as they stand on the outside. The Phantom wanted to be involved, wanted to be a part of the opera. Ultimately he wrote his own opera, which was a ploy on his part to not only become a part of the opera itself, but to become close to someone on the inside who captured his heart.

I want to be one who captures the heart of persons with disability and causes them to want to come back to the church, or come to it for the first time. I want to be the one who shows the love that softens the heart of the aggrieved; those who have actually experienced cruelty from people like me, Christian or otherwise.


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