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Half-Wits, Essay Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1706

Essay

The core theme of “Half-Wits,” is that the Holy Spirit moves all to repent. This theme is most effectively communicated by the character Father Peter Genaro through the prism of his life and how it’s expressed by example to both the protagonist Fitzsimmons and the reader. This act of redeeming is within, what Fr. Peter refers to as, Pentecost there is a creating, redeeming, and sanctifying Triune God who performs all acts in accordance with the “living” science of moral theology. Fr. Peter notes, “That is what Pentecost is all about – freedom – from the burdens of life and the burdens of self. And if you don’t have that freedom, then you have not yet had your personal Pentecost. You have not met the risen Christ and received his power (Goggins 1988).” When Father Peter gives this speech about life and the choice and the act of choosing the way one lives their life, it’s clear that he has had to make a choice and through baring witness to the creative redeeming sanctifying activities of God he becomes his present self. It’s essentially a transformation, because before opening his heart to God, he is puzzled and burdened with all cynical paradox of doubt common of human nature. Once Fr. Peter opens himself to God, he overcomes evil, and is able to participate in God’s mission and through shinning in comparison by example. The true demonstration of God’s power at work through actions of the sanctified Fr. Peter can be seen in how Fr. Peter leads the main character and protagonist of the book, Fitzsimmons, to redemption.

From the very beginning of the book, Father Peter is described as being a man who appears to have more time than he needs, as being a man who is unhurried and one who appears to be at home in his office decorated with Christian artifacts. The author describes Fr. Peter every chance he gets as being at peace. About the office Goggins notes that, “Peter looked comfortable at his desk, as if he had been made for the room, and perhaps he had. He fit in well with it (1988).” Here the implication that Peter was ‘made’ implies that he was created. Then later Goggins goes on to say, “The room was calm, too. Hanging on the wall behind Peter were pictures of the Sacred Heart, the pope, and the cardinal. Over the filing cabinet there was a print of a Renaissance painting depicting the Annunciation.” The notion that Fr. Peter fits in well with these surroundings is symbolic of Fr. Peter’s connection to God being an integral part of his being. When Peter describes how he views his office he says, “I like it. It’s got that proper mix of temporal peace and other worldliness (Goggins, 1988).” Goggins specifically uses this phrase as metaphor to parallel Fr Peter with the trinity. A common phrase within the church in reference to the Triund God, and regards to temporal and other-worldly is that the eternal form of the Trinity can only be known through the temporal form, or physical representation here on earth. Through the temporal form we do know that the eternal form is perfect and independent –self-subsistent.   In this respect Fr Peter is serving as the temporal form of the Trinity here on earth and representing its perfect independent and self subsistent nature. This is why Fr. Peter is described as being at piece, unhurried, one with the room of Christian artifacts. To tie all three themes together, when Goggins says Fr. Peter is one with his office and perhaps Fr. Peter was made for his office and Peter in turn describes his office as the perfect balance of temporal and other-worldly, the messages conveyed is that through the creative redeeming sanctifying activities of God, Peter was created anew, redeemed for his sins and sanctified to be the temporal representation of the trinity here on earth. He is as temporal and other worldly as the Christian artifacts in his office, except he is a living breathing representation of the father the son and the Holy Spirit and it can be felt with his very aura and presence.

When most Christians come across the word “sanctified,” the impression is that this is something unattainable or saintly, or pure. The actual definition of sanctified is for one to be “made holy” or “set apart” by God and for God to reproduce the image of his son, Christ, in them. At one point Father Peter describes himself as living “free from the burdens of life and the burdens of self (Goggins 1988).” Fr. Peter notes that his life has meaning. He says he is a happy and joyful man (Goggins 1988). Here the reader is made aware that the Fr. Peter is set apart and that he no longer has despair and anxiety in his heart, due to his “personal Pentecost.” The relationship shared between Fr Peter and Fitzsimmons allows the reader to see the difference between one who is sanctified and one who is not. Fitzsimmons is still haunted by the death of his loved ones burdened by what he has seen and what he knows, and cursed by dark evil memories. The core problem Fitzsimmons has is that he knows too much. Fr. Peter sympathizes with his plight and says, “Blessed are the half-wits, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Goggins, 1988).” In a subtle way, this is both a compliment Peter is making as well as a statement about the nature of how normal people respond to traumatic events.

Most people when confronted with pain, they must make a choice as Fr. Peter mentions in his speech about choices. Peter’s essential argument is that God does not want people to walk around fearful and anxious, but only those who can be truly fearless and free from the burdens caused by mental paradoxes are those who have been sanctified, set apart by God and those who are too absent minded to know otherwise (ie, half-wits). The rest of society falls in-between.  The divine trinity plays a major role in Fr. Peter’s peace of mind, tranquil nature and fearlessness. The core implication of the Triune God, specifically the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit creates, redeems, and sanctifies. It is understood that this is how trinification is achieved, which is the process through which people become members of the “Body of Christ,” and when this happens the Holy spirit moves the new member to repent for all their sins or transgressions. Before one can experience this they must first give into it. Fr. Peter demonstrates that he is among the sanctified through his actions of leading many of the characters in the book to opening up their hearts to God.

The author notes that, “Peter had that quality of detachment which only comes with experience, and his face, while it was clearly that of a man in his fifties, was also quite youthful. For Fitzsimmons, that should have been the clue to Peter’s vocation because he had found that the quality of a youthful countenance was peculiar to spiritual people. Even now, when Peter seemed to be upset with him, Fitzsimmons was struck by the serenity of the priest’s countenance (Goggins, 1988).”  The key difference that sets Peter apart is his religious faith. Fr. Peter is open to the power of God, while the unsanctified are closed off from it. Father Peter has become content with just being a man and the notion that there is evil more powerful than him present in the world that he must turn to God in order to overcome. The entire conflict of the book is truly demonstrated in the contrast shared between Father Peter and many of the other characters as they interact with one another. Many of the characters eventually comes to grips with some of the same values Fr. Peter has utilized to empower his life. This can be seen late in the book when Peter saves Fitzsimmons. Through long engagement with Fr. Peter, the author notes,  “…Fitzsimmons began to be aware of a tremendous sense of release. It was as if a great catharsis had taken place and all the weight of his past life had been lifted from him. He was, he knew, free of the burden of the deaths of Eileen and Sarah, and he was free of the foreboding that Sarz had caused him. He was also free, to some extent, he realized, of self (1988).” This is essentially the product of Father Peter’s influence on the character. A man is judge by his acts and Fr Peter acts as a redeemer demonstrating the transcendent love of God. When Peter’s leads Fitzsimmons to his personal Pentecost it demonstrates God’s creative, redeeming and sanctifying power in Fr Peter’s life.

In sum, in reading of “Half-Wits”, God’s creative, redeeming and sanctifying power can be seen exemplified in the character of Fr Peter. Sanctified essentially means to be set apart by God, and the ways in which Fr. Peter is set apart are most clearly identifiable when his character traits and behavior are compared in contrast with the protagonist of the book Fitzsimmons. By Fitzsimmons being the protagonist, he is put in the position of being the ‘everyman’ and represents the reader. While his ant-social behavior is not common, it understandable and expected for someone who has experienced the trauma he has experienced. Likewise, Fr. Peter has experienced his own level of traumas in the past but instead opened his heart up to God and becomes a sanctified embodiment of God’s power on earth. There are numerous examples throughout the book that support the idea that the relationship between Fr. Peter and Fitszimmons is Goggins way of comparing a sanctified man to one who is unsanctified. The true demonstration of God’s power demonstrated in “Half-Wits” through Peter through its ability to re-create and redeem characters and free them from their fears or the paradoxes that burden their minds.   Before Peter’s influence at first he is someone who seems to epitomize sinfulness and sloth-like qualities. It is the sanctification and redeeming power instilled in Fr. Peter that saves Fitzsimmons and leads him to God.

Work Cited

Gerard, Goggins. Half-Wits. Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1988.

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