The other thing that happened today is that I just finished reading Bram Stoker's Dracula. If you can stomach an antiquated writing style and fairly slow progression, I can't recommend it enough. I read it quickly, perhaps 20 or 30 pages per day, and I found it constantly drawing me on. In fact, there was only one thing about it that had been bothering me. The book was extremely heavy on moral absolutism. I want to explain that point so I can be perfectly clear what I mean.
The book revolves around essentially six protagonists, and one antagonist. There are two secondary characters which play a big part in the book, and both are killed basically making the same point. Of the protagonists, five are stout, good men, who will happily take action against any evil to defend the honor of a good woman. Never once is their resoluteness, their capability and, of course, their goodness ever questioned. They will hunt their foe to the end of the earth for the danger he's placed their good women in, and be fully justified in doing so. The sixth, a woman whom has been infected by Dracula but not yet turned, can fully resist his evils so long as she is buoyed by the strength of these men, and God.
The antagonist, on the other hand, can do no good. His every action is evil, and we are told explicitly that everything he does is in selfishness, with the mind of a criminal. He runs away in defeat, cowers from righteousness, and acts always in darkness and shroud.
The secondary characters represent the same. One, a good woman loved deeply by all the protagonists, is turned to a vampire by Dracula, and we are shown how relief so obviously comes to her soul when she is killed. Even murder is morally absolutely correct. The other is a patient in an asylum who is initially wooed by Dracula, but eventually attempts to fight and prevent him from assaulting the protagonists. Even a lunatic can clearly see absolute right and wrong. At first, this had been bothering me. Could a classic novel, widely lauded, really be so simplistic? I didn't feel that way as I finished the book tonight.
When I arrived at the nursing home earlier today, having been told I needed to come quickly, as it was almost time, I was very sad to see him, unconscious, breathing poorly, and obviously very near death. But I wasn't overwhelmed. I didn't cry, and I wasn't holding back tears. Then, as the death rattle was upon him, we all laid hands and prayed beautiful prayers for him, and he left to be with Jesus. And in that moment, I sobbed, and wept openly. I thought I was sad at his true passing, but I quickly firmed up. Then, twice more, as family came that hadn't been there in time, I told them how we had prayed, and about the miracle of his transformation. As I began to talk each time, I was overwhelmed and began to sob all over again.
You see, my Grandpa had not been well for some time. Always a big man, he suffered from asthma and diabetes, and then later from severe neuropathy, so that he could not feel his legs. Eventually, he was unable to stand and confined to a wheelchair. He had trouble breathing, and couldn't eat the foods he liked. Eventually, he could not come home anymore, to the house he had lived in for many years, with the wife he had slept next to for many more. He suffered. And I, and my family know that his suffering is now at an end. At the moment of his death, he received a new life, in a new body. A perfect body that could breathe, could walk and run, that could taste the sweet fruits of heaven without worrying what they would do to his blood sugar.
You may or may not have known my Grandpa. But whether you did or not is of no concern. Whether you think that vampires inherently suffer by there existance or not, Bram Stoker made it obvious that his DID, and no matter how evil they had been, to end and release thier suffering was an absolute good, for them and for the entire world. And that is where the absolute truth lies. Not in each of the characters and their ends, but in the end of suffering. Nobody should be made to endure through suffering without hope.
I now realize that when I sobbed each time I discussed Grandpa's end, I started sobbing when I mentioned the beauty of his transformation and the gift of God's great love, a perfect form free from pain, fear and anxiety for all time. My tears were of pure joy at the thought that this man that I loved so much is free now to live as he should, as we ALL should. I sobbed with joy because now he WAS going home.
I don't know if vampires are inherently evil such that they cannot do good. I don't know if killing them is a pure and decent act. I don't know if Johnathan and Mina Harker, Dr. Seward, Quincey Morris, Lord Godalming and Dr. Van Helsing are the world's only people ever to live without fault.
But I do know that I believe in Moral Absolutes. And the beauty of them is one of the few things on earth that can make me cry.
Goodbye, Grandpa. We will love you always, and we will be with you again soon. In the mean time, I'll just bet that they can find a porch for you to sit on in heaven, where wild turkeys wander the woods beyond every morning.