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The Good Father is Watching You

Just yesterday afternoon I finished George Orwell's 1984, and honestly, I feel like I'm still recovering from a shock-induced mental explosion.

The book is unquestionably superbly written- the story of Winston Smith, a common citizen of a dystopian society where freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and Big Brother is always watching you. Orwell's desolate world is air-tight, his prose flawless, and his protagonist an interesting blend of enlightened intelligence and simple naïveté. The book is brilliant, its author more so. I'll give Orwell that.

But even though I was locked in from page one, this book left a bad taste in my mouth, and without divulging too much of the plot, I'll try to explain why.

Like so many dystopian stories we're familiar with, it's a narrative of oppression, of persecution, of longing for something better and fighting against all odds and losing, losing, losing, but clinging, always clinging, to the hope of a brighter world. There are little victories, moments of beauty, intrigue, suspense, hope and dashed hope, battles and torture and pain and love but always for the sake of a better world. Always for the sake of something greater. Whether its The Hunger Games or the story of Winston Smith, the goal is always somewhat the same- the freedom to make something better.

But maybe that's where it all falls apart. The bleak heart of the dystopian narrative.

What is 'better' exactly, if Jesus isn't in it?

I felt for Winston in this story. I felt the oppression, the fear, the tyranny. I shared his longing for a better, brighter world and rooted for him through the torture, through the adversity, through the trials. But at the end of the day, I realized that he's already lost the battle. He is living in a world without Christ, fighting for a world without Christ, and facing unbearable pain and terror without the anchor of Christ. It's all very hopeless and morbid and dark and laced with insurmountable despair, yes, yes, but the early Christians faced all of that, too. That's not what makes this book so bleak.

1984 is not an uplifting read, but I wouldn't negate its value. It is relevant, eloquent, astonishingly thought-provoking, and powerful in a deep, intellectual way. But what I appreciate most about this novel is the lesson I gained from it, the reminder of the difference between the hope found in Jesus, and the hope of a world without Christ. The reminder that those dystopian stories aren't depressing because of adversity, but because, at the heart, they are hollow, empty battles, for a hollow, empty, temporary prize.

Freedom is slavery if Jesus isn't in it. Hoping for a better world means nothing if there's no one to put that hope in. Winston was doomed from the start, but we have something stronger than he did: the unquenchable, burning, living hope that comes from Jesus Christ.

Truth is not alterable. Truth is Jesus Christ. And praise the Lord who gives us hope, the Good Father is watching us!

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