Fantine, Jean Valjean, and God

Last night Jenny and I went to see Plain Great Players production of Les Miserables at the Great Plains Theatre (shameless plug: you should go). I was struck by the manner in which theology saturates the play. Throughout the musical, there is a sharp contrast between the generous and merciful faith of the Bishop of Digne (and thus also the faith of Jean Valjean) with the unforgiving faith of Javert. In the end, the first leads to new life and a great deal of good for a great many people and the second leads to death for the one who practices it.

There’s also a line that has long haunted me in the song “I Dreamed a Dream” sung by the character Fantine (played in this production by Liz Collins, hence the shamelessness of plug above). The line was:

“I dreamed that love would never die.
I dreamed that God would be forgiving.”

This is sung after the young mother Fantine has fallen from the rather precarious ledge of her working-class existence into abject poverty and despair. I can understand why the character feels the way she does about God, but that doesn’t mean she’s right. The love of which she sings was the romantic love of a young man, and such love is indeed often fickle and short-lived. But God’s love never dies. It existed before creation came into being and it will persist throughout eternity. Motivated by this undying love, God is indeed forgiving. I wanted to stand up and shout this during the performance last night, but instead, I’m contenting myself with putting it down in this blog post.

Remember that God’s love never dies. Remember that God is forgiving. Choose the generous and merciful faith of the Bishop and Jean Valjean.