Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jesus, Fanon, and Huston on Childhood

I recently read the following quotations on children/childhood:
Le malheur de l’homme est d’avoir été enfant. (Peau noire, masques blancs, 188)
Translation: "Man's misfortune is having been a child" (Frantz Fanon).
Après tout, au fond, notre « vrai » moi est bien celui, rabougri et ridicule, de l’enfance…, n’est-ce pas ? (Lettres parisiennes, 60).
Translation: "After all, deep down, our 'true' self is really the shriveled, ridiculous one of our childhood, isn't it?" (Nancy Huston).
Fanon and Huston both made me think of Christ's words about the little children: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14).

Certainly all three of these quotations are removed from their context (which is probably only unfair to the original meaning in the case of Fanon). But they pack a whole lot of philosophy into short sentences. Fanon and Huston are both onto something, though they may not realize what (sinful human nature, which goes back to childhood, or birth to be precise). They understand that all human problems (particularly, for them, injustice, racism, psychological exile, loneliness) go back to childhood, in other words to our humanness. Unfortunately they miss the solution, which is contained in Christ's simple invitation to all children. If we realize and accept that Christ is always ready to forgive us (if we repent and become like little children again, if we no longer are), then we can begin to work toward Christ-likeness in all areas of life.

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