Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Review: The End of the Affair

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

This book is heart-breaking, but wonderful, startling in its honesty, beauty, and unwanted hope. You can read many reviews on Amazon telling about how deep and meaningful it is. Instead, I'll share a few of my favorite quotes.
I have never understood why people who can swallow the enormous improbability of a personal God boggle at a personal Devil. I have known so intimately the way that demon works in my imagination. No statement that Sarah ever made was proof against his cunning doubts, though he would usually wait till she had gone to utter them. He would prompt our quarrels long before they occurred: he was not Sarah's enemy so much as the enemy of love, and isn't that what the devil is supposed to be? I can imagine that if there existed a God who loved, the devil would be driven to destroy even the weakest, the most faulty imitation of that love.
From Sarah's diary:
I said to God, 'So that's it. I begin to believe in you, and if I believe in you I shall hate you. I have free will to break my promise, haven't I, but I haven't the power to gain anything from breaking it. You let me telephone, but then you close the door in my face. You let me sin, but you take away the fruits of my sin. You let me try to escape with D., but you don't allow me to enjoy it...What do you expect me to do now, God? Where do I go from here?'
 A priest responding to a comment about intercessory prayer for something small:
'Any sort's better than none. It's a recognition of God's power anyway, and that's a kind of praise, I suppose.'
And, to finish, a quote from near the end:
What I chiefly felt was less hate than fear. For if this God exists, I thought, and if even you -- with your lusts and your adulteries and the timid lies you used to tell -- can change like this, we could all be saints by leaping as you leapt, by shutting the eyes and leaping once and for all: if you are a saint, it's not so difficult to be a saint. It's something He can demand of any of us, leap.
In Sarah's experience, I see the desire to do what we are told is right even though it feels all wrong, and to struggle to act on the new knowledge and to persevere even when you want desperately to give it all up and go back. Only there's something...something that pushes us on. Is it love? Is it God?

I almost want to read it again immediately.

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