Do You Hear the People Sing?

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It’s hard not to think of the heroic music and theme of Les Miserables when mourning the Paris attacks this weekend. And those in Beirut. And all the other places around the world where terrorism has hit in recent months.

In the Victor Hugo book and the musical Les Miserables, we see that France’s democratic revolutionaries in 1789 and 1832 had to endure ‘reigns of terror’ as well. They fought against awful odds for their freedom, fighting for democracy and a new way of life. Factions and divisions, political power struggles and regime changes everywhere. Young people caught in the crossfire. The same ideals as those which were attacked this past Friday, and on 9/11, and at so many other points. Some things never change, some battles seem to never end. In Les Miserables, we see this constant struggle in the checkered but redeemed life of Jean Valjean, set against the backdrop of a Paris in post-Napoleonic rebellion. On Friday, we saw it in the robbery of innocent lives taken at the Bataclan, the Stade de France, and along the unsuspecting streets of the City of Light.

Do You Hear the People Sing? Sadly, many of them have been silenced on earth. But we hear their song from the heavens, even as we saw so powerfully at the conclusion of Les Miserables, when Jean Valjean dies among loved ones ‘past and present,’ and joins the chorus of the beloved martyrs who gave their lives for France’s freedom (see the film version in the link below).

Truth can never be silenced. Truth is eternal. Good will win, evil will lose, eventually — though many consider that a naïve approach, with so much suffering in the interim, yes — but it is long stated in the oldest of texts and scriptures in one way or another. Victory will come. “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”

But in the meantime, we toil. People hurt each other. Misrepresent each other. Kill each other in body or spirit or mind or heart. Our imperfect efforts to counteract such evil and mean-spiritedness never seem enough. We can only hold fast to what we know to be true, holy, integrous. We can only ask God for another chance each morning, and try our best to keep the faith and live out our values, one day at a time, until tomorrow, if we’re blessed to have it come; we can only pray and serve, seek forgiveness, and love and take care of each other best we can.

Because…“To love another person is to see the face of God…”

Onward.

“Do You Hear The People Sing?” (Reprise Finale)

Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.

They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord.
We will walk behind the ploughshare;
We will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!

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The In-Between Places: How My Faith and Art Fit Together

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How my faith and my art fit together has been one of the great challenges — and satisfactions — of my life and writing career so far.

For years, I separated my beliefs and my creative work — writing faith-themed non-fiction (articles) for Christian publications and audiences, and fiction (plays/screenplays/novels) for mainstream audiences.

Only here and there would I create small overlaps. But recently I decided it was time to fully integrate these two ‘sides’ of who I am, with a novel series and script adaptation I will share about more when completed (soon!)  They’re not ‘sides’ really; they’re at my core. They don’t run contrary to each other.  But in this world of ours, the various parts of who we are can seem that way.

Because here’s the dilemma I’ve encountered in the writing industry, or so I’ve been told: my writing is too spiritual for mainstream publishers/producers and too worldly for Christian publishers/producers.

Translation? Too many faith professions or references to Jesus, God and the Bible for nonbelievers; too much ‘language,’ sex/intimacy or misguided behavior for believers.  (Not that there’s very much of either, outright — but even a single instance of one seems to bother somebody or other).

Why be so inclusive? Because I want to explore who people really are. How messy and imperfect we all are. I select contexts very carefully, and I strive to make all situations and choices believable for the characters in the story. Not glorified, but clarified. Even if I don’t personally agree with all that my characters do, and all that happens to them in the story, I want to show the reality of who they are and where they are at.  I want readers/viewers to understand how and why they got there.  Just like I’m called, in life, to understand and care for people who may be different from me.

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