The Devil and Miss Prym | Paulo Coelho

A stranger walks into an isolated village and offers unimaginable wealth to the villagers if someone is found murdered by the end of the week. What a great premise for a story! It’s sad that such an interesting idea came to such a lackluster end.

I suppose what bothered me the most is Coelho’s belief that humans have the unfettered ability to choose good over evil. (It doesn’t help that I’ve been reading Calvin’s Institutes concurrently!) Here’s the grand moral of the fable in Coelho’s words:

The stranger did not need Chantal to explain the story. Savin and Ahab had the same instincts–Good and Evil struggled in both of them, just as they did in every soul on the face of the earth. When Ahab realized that Savin was the same as he, he realized too that he was the same as Savin.

It was all a matter of control. And choice.

Nothing more and nothing less.

As a Christian, this sweet idealism bothers me. We humans are not free to choose between good and evil on our own. Apart from Jesus, we choose evil every single time! (Of course, it may not appear to be evil.) Morality is not just a matter of our control and choice. It’s a matter of handing control over to the Son of God who sets us free from our enslavement to evil so we have the ability to make an authentic choice.

Perhaps it’s my ideology that made this book so frustrating. It functions well as a nice morality fable. If you’re interested in real wisdom, though, search elsewhere.

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