Acts of Faith, Part 2

I wrote something about my initial impressions of this book a few days ago, and lo, and behold, the WORLD magazine that came in the mail today has an interview with Philip Caputo, the author. It’s a good interview, worth reading. To continue my thoughts on the book, as I promised, here’s another quote:

The successful capitalist is successful because he has no love in his heart, Fitzhugh, thought, returning to his hut from a volleyball game. He has only the love of success. He devotes himself to work work work instead of to a woman loved with all his soul. He attempts to fill the hollow in his heart with the accumulation of wealth and what it buys, whether things or power or both; but wealth, things, and power fill it only for the moment, as water does the belly of a hungry man. The heart is empty once again, and its cravings drive him to acquire more; yet he is never gratified.

Sounds very Biblical, doesn’t it? Fitzhugh is the flawed hero of the book, and he does see the emptiness of unprincipled blind belief in a Cause and hypocrisy in the name of humanitarianism. However, his salvation is, of course, found in the love of a good woman and in the creation of a family. In the WORLD interview, Caputo says that “the theme in Acts of Faith is how faith, whether it is religious or a belief in some secular ideology or cause, can curdle into fanaticism.” This being the chosen theme, all the believers in the book do “curdle”, turn into the antithesis of believers in goodness and righteousness. And there but for the grace of God go I. What the book doesn’t show is any real hope for redemption and forgiveness.

But what we become, Fitzhugh thinks, is what we have been all along. To outward appearances, each of us is a half truth. The self we present to the world conceals a clandestine self that awaits its time to come out. Africa had not changed Quinette. It had merely provided the right circumstances and the right climate for her pretty chrysalis to pop open and reveal the creature within. To see the whole truth of oneself is also a redemption of sorts. . . . Again, he knew only what he wanted to believe, and he wanted to believe redemption was possible.

Acts of Faith reveals human sinfulness in a particularly intriguing and relevant story. However, seeing one’s own depravity is only the beginning of salvation, and by itself that kind of self-revelation can lead to despair instead of redemption.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgement, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14