What former English majors do for fun

You guysssss. I just discovered Les Miserables. I know. I am like 20 years late to the party. I don’t know how I can love musicals so much and still managed to let this one slip through the cracks but I cannot stop watching this:

(Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this Jean Valjean looks like Jesus?)

Or this:

(Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this Enjolras looks like Patrick Warbuton?)

And just for funsies, this:

(No subtitles on this one – they are singing the song “Do You Hear the People Sing?” in different languages. Except at the end, they include: “Do you hear the people sing?/Say, do you hear the distant drums?/It is the future that they bring When tomorrow comes… Tomorrow comes!”)

I’m even working on the book. “Working” is an understatement here; I’m on page 32. Of 1,260. I am not making this up. Evidently, this is what former English majors do for fun. Tackle books longer than the Bible (I wish I was making that up) for no reason. Maybe my old professor would give me extra extra credit for it (and if you know Prof. N, you know this is probably not a far-fetched idea. I am pretty sure he would be delighted to assign me a 30 page paper, using no internet resources, on the study of socio-economic divides in the early 19th century France and how it relates to the bishop’s silver, our culture today and Nick Jonas.).

There are a lot of Gospel themes in the story. Agony. Sorrow. Forgiveness. Love. Oppression. Guilt. Passion. Death. Faith. War. Grace. Sin. Hope. Whew. My church is going through a sermon series on suffering right now, reflecting on pain and sacrifice and our hopeless state without the Lord. We need grace and redemption but it’s hard to fully grasp that unless we understand our own spiritual poverty. Les Miserables fits so well into that theme, bringing to the forefront something that is common to all of us – suffering and our need for redemption. It’s fascinating the way that different characters respond to grace. Most of them are scared of it. They’d rather work off their debt than accept forgiveness. Some of them would rather die. Why are we so afraid of grace? Why are we hesitant to be forgiven? What is it about being whole but vulnerable that is more frightening than staying broken and believing the lie that we’re in control?

The other thing about Les Miz (am I allowed to call it that? Is that what the cool kids say? Or do I have to read 1,260 pages first before I can be on a nickname basis?) is that it ends with a measure of hope. Jean Valjean taking in Cosette, Fantine sacrificing for her daughter, Enjolras leading the revolution, Eponine risking her life for Marius – it was all for the hope of something better up ahead. While the characters’ hopes are generally in more earthly things – better lives for their friends and families, absolution of sins or love for someone else – it is still a beautiful allusion to the hope we have in Christ.

One of the YouTube commentors (not that I was on YouTube last night, watching various performances for hours on end. Nope. Not me. Not at all. And I definitely didn’t watch them for so long that I’m now thinking in song. Not even a little bit.) put it well: Well, um, I have just been enlighten[ed] by musical awesomeness right now… Excuse me as I burn all that my childhood had me believe was a “musical.”

For. real. I don’t think I can look Julie Andrews in the eye anymore.

Do you like Les Miserables? What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?

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