Between The Dark And The Bright

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 12 2012 @ 9:15pm


by Zoë Pollock

Aimee Liu revisits Graham Greene's 1948 novel The Heart Of The Matter. Like many of Greene's novels, the story revolves around themes of colonialism, war, and Greene's own conflicted Catholicism:

In Greene's view, even God is fallible, with a nature as divided and uncertain as our own. "We are part of the evolution of God," he said, "and Hitler obviously aids the dark side of God, whilst Gandhi, John XXIII and [Cesar] Chavez aid the day side […] If God is torn as we are between the dark and the bright — and therefore suffers a certain division and anguish as we do — it makes Him a more sympathetic figure."

Through [the character of] Scobie, Greene expressed an abiding distrust of any God who could cause the suffering of innocents, "who was not human enough to love what he had created." Unfortunately, he found abundant evidence of this inhumane God in his lifetime, which encompassed the horrors of two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the Cold War. In Greene's experience, [author Shirley Hazzard] writes, "pleasure could not be an assumption and was not a goal; whereas suffering was a constant, and almost a code of honour. Suffering was the attestable key to imaginative existence." Why? Because, in Greene's experience, suffering was the gateway to compassion.

(Peel lamp by space designer Naoki Ono and product designer Yuuki Yamamoto via Ignant)