The Power and the Glory

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In the novel The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene sets up his readers to search for the power and glory represented in the novel. The title’s main words connect not only many of the characters and their chronicles, but to the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount. The Priest unknowingly lives out a life comparable to one of which is encouraged throughout the Sermon on the Mount. He pursues his calling through acts in kindness rather than running away, when persecution is near. The Lieutenant yearns for the death of the Priest to bring power to his name. With the death of the Priest, both the Lieutenant and the Priest achieve power, which leads to glory. Representing the model given in the Sermon on the Mount, the Priest, despite his sinful ways and shame makes himself vulnerable to his enemies. The Whisky Priest unknowingly shows God’s power and glory by giving up his old selfish ways and acting in love and mercy to those around him, instead of retaliation. Throughout the novel Greene, uses the Priest to represent aspects given in The Sermon on the Mount; in spite of him constantly looking down upon himself because of his sinful nature. Greene uses the Priest’s lack of knowledge of his random acts of kindness, to represent the glory of God. Even though the priest feels he is a hypocrite, he “give[s] to the needy, [and] do[es] not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do… to be honoured by men” (Matt. 6:2). The Whiskey Priest does not look to find ways to be powerful or to have glory, it is his simple actions coming from a good conscience that bring the power and glory to him. Even though the Priest lives in sin, people still see good in him, in that, “it’s good to see a priest with a conscience” (Greene 2003, 182), it shows the love that is comes out of him. The Priest finally learns to love, fulfilling many elements from the Sermon on the Mount. Glory is displayed through the way the Whisky Priest learns to love people. At one point in the novel, the Priest is looking back on grace and how he usually views the, “venial sins – impatience, an unimportant lie, pride, a neglected opportunity” (139), rather than his lack of love. At this point, the Whisky Priest has made a complete change. His love is like a light seen in the Sermon on the Mount, in that he finally understands how to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Greene shows the giving heart of the Whisky Priest, with examples such the Priest offering up a sandwich to a man who is hungry, even though the man is angry. The Priest shows kindness from the heart and unknowingly lives out a life of the beatitudes and characteristics found in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. The Whisky Priest looks at his life as a life of duty, that he must accomplish what God has planned for him. The Priest reflects on the importance of his role in that, “He was the only priest the children could remember: it was from him they would take their ideas of the faith. But it was from him too they took God – in their mouths. When he was gone it would be as if God in all space between the sea and the mountains ceased exist. Wasn’t it his duty to stay?” (65).

The Priest carries out this sense of praise to his God through his faithfulness to remain as a priest, bringing glory to God. He feels it is his “duty not to be caught” (40), because if he was caught, who would continue to spread the power and the glory of God? The Priest views these consequences as persecution and instead of running he looks at ways to persevere and presses on to spread the news of the power and glory as a priest. With relation to, The Sermon on the Mount, the Whiskey Priest’s actions are representing that of the beatitudes, in that “blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10). The Whisky Priest refuses to give up regardless of the opinions many people clearly...
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