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As events unfold, Vianne becomes a christological figure, delivering people from hardheartedness, misguided piety, and self-deception into joy and abundance.
While these words could offer a rigorous command about marriage and remarriage, they also offer the good news of Jesus' refusal to answer questions with Yes or No; rather, Jesus answers with a question to the community and with a challenge to hardheartedness. Perhaps, by God's grace, we might live these questions with our hearts released.
Not only does the film draw a devastating portrait of official hardheartedness, it also lights a spark of pure defiance at the end, when over the grating voice of the clerk repeating, "Write down everything that you have done in your entire lifetime," the camera pans a wall of shelves sagging with hundreds of folders, each containing an "entire lifetime."
Only then will we--and our children and their children--be saved from the hardheartedness that allowed it to happen and that could, at any time, allow it to happen again." (Johann Christoph Arnold, "Daily Dig," www.bruderhof.com)
Amid Lenin's many quotation marks, italics, and parenthetical exclamation marks, one finds sardonic references to "old Sismondi" and "good Sismondi." Of Sismondi's rejection of Say's "Law" that overproduction is impossible--recall that Marx, too, rejected it--Lenin wrote: "Nowadays such naivete only raises a smile." Lenin further averred that Sismondi "covers up his inability and unwillingness to make an analysis with petty-bourgeois moralizing;" (19) that his views reflect the "stupidity and hardheartedness of the small proprietor," or "smack of the dull-wittedness of the small French peasant of the Restoration;" (20) that Sismondi "exemplifies the combination of petty-bourgeois sentimental romanticism with phenomenal civic immaturity." (21)
History shows the alternative to either softheadedness or hardheartedness. Recently, I spent a year in the bowels of the Library of Congress searching through old records, and I became a witness to what our predecessors accomplished, people whom the standard history books have forgotten.
Conflict in the scene does not occur solely between Christian mercy and Jewish hardheartedness, as has often been argued.(20) Rather, what gets played out during the trial is, in part, the battle between expectation, in the guise of comic closure, and defiance of what is expected, as represented by Shylock's determination to perform the directive of his bond.
The trouble with an even-tempered union is that it refuses to crack--at no point does injustice or hardheartedness provide an opening through which you could walk blamelessly into another way of being.
In the 1870s, Christian movements increasingly became alarmed and explicitly reacted against, on the one hand, what they conceived to be the seductive power of socialism, which was alluring workers to materialism and religious unbelief, and on the other hand, to the "hardheartedness of employers and the greed of unchecked competition" as is mentioned in Rerum Novarum.
In John's narrative, however, it is not the leaders' rejection of the incontestable evidence of Jesus' giving sight to the man born blind (something never heard of "since the world began" [9:32]) that confirms their hardheartedness and prejudice; rather, it is the raising of Lazarus from the dead after four days (11:39), and the notion that "if we let him go on thus, everyone will believe in him" (11:48).
And given the hardheartedness and political ineptitude of the nation's bishops, similar success seems likely.
How could God allow the negligence, racism, indifference or hardheartedness that long gnawed at the social fabric of New Orleans--or the blindness or incompetence of officials who should have understood the brewing human storm, as well the meteorological one?