Inspiring Story: A Classic
So, I accidentally missed my own meme last week... shame on me! ;p To make up for it, I wanted to introduce a classic. Christmas is just around the corner, and if you're like many Americans, after all the food has been eaten, you sit around a watch TV -- perferably, the classic Christmas shows, such as White Christmas. Well, there is one show that I'm not even sure is a Christmas favorite for most, but it definately could be classified as such. I'm talking about the motion picture Ben-Hur (which is one my favorites). This story sheds so much light on just what Christ did for us, by taking a character and walking him through the life of Christ. But there is another side to the story, that not every one is familar with, and I wanted to share it today, in honor of Christmas. Hope you all enjoy! Merry Christmas
Inspiration for Wallace’s next project, what would become Ben-Hur, came from an unlikely source: his own ignorance. Wallace often told the story of how in 1875 he met on a train the well-known agnostic Colonel Robert Ingersoll. After hours of conversation in which Ingersoll questioned the evidence for God, heaven, Christ, and other theological concepts, Wallace came away realizing how little he knew about his own religion. “I was ashamed of myself, and make haste now to declare that the mortification of pride I then endured . . . ended in a resolution to study the whole matter, if only for the gratification there might be in having convictions of one kind or another.”
So began Wallace’s journey into the world of first-century Judea. In true lawyer style, he hit the books: First the Bible, and then every reference book about the ancient Middle East he could find. He suspected that a novel about Jesus Christ would be scrutinized by experts, so the plants, birds, clothes, food, buildings, names, places—everything had to be exact.... He did everything short of going to Jerusalem himself. Years later, when he actually visited the Holy Land, he tested his research and proudly said, “I find no reason for making a single change in the text of the book.” ....
The chaos erupting in Jerusalem during the last three days of Jesus’ life is palpable in the novel. Ben-Hur frantically catches bits of information and gossip, and not knowing how it will end or what to make of it. He sees his army of Galileans disillusioned and dispersed, while his fiancée turns on him, denouncing his lack of ambition and abandoning him for his enemy. He wrestles with his heart over a man who can cure lepers but won’t protect himself. As Ben-Hur guided readers through the scenes of the Passion, so did he lead the way for Lew Wallace to believe in Jesus Christ. “I have seen the Nazarene,” Wallace told an audience in San Francisco. “I saw him perform works which no mere man could perform. I have heard him speak. I was at the crucifixion. With Ben-Hur I watched and studied him for years, and at last I, too, took the word that Balthasar gave him—‘God.’”
There were so many rumors about Wallace’s faith—that he was an atheist or that he had gone to the Holy Land to disprove the existence of Christ—he felt it necessary to introduce his autobiography by dispelling them. “In the very beginning, before distractions overtake me, I wish to say that I believe absolutely in the Christian conception of God. ....
Despite Wallace’s irreverence toward organized religion, Ben-Hur maintains a respect for the underlying principles of Judaism and Christianity. In the novel it is clear that hate had nothing to do with Ben-Hur’s survival, contrary to Arrius’ assertion. Instead, Wallace intended to show God’s benevolence through the compassion of strangers—one of the strangers being Christ, who gives Ben-Hur water and hope on his march to become a Roman galley slave. Wallace prided himself on scrupulously following the Bible in depicting the words and acts of Christ, except for this one scene. “The Christian world would not tolerate a novel with Jesus Christ its hero, and I knew it,” explained Wallace. “He should not be present as an actor in any scene of my creation. The giving a cup of water to Ben-Hur at the well near Nazareth is the only violation of this rule.... I would be religiously careful that every word He uttered should be a literal quotation from one of His sainted biographers.” Since that left a considerable gap of knowledge of about twenty years of Jesus’ life, Wallace centered the plot on a fictional contemporary’s struggles and had Jesus play a cameo role.
Wallace wrote and wrote and wrote, one day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., but more often catching moments between his professional commitments [Governor of New Mexico]....Finally, he hand-delivered the finished manuscript to Harper and Brothers in New York; it was written in purple ink and praised by Joseph Harper as “.... A bold experiment to make Christ a hero that has been often tried and always failed.”
....within two years it had gained momentum.... Fans from around the world wrote to Wallace, recounting their own conversions with Ben Hur—this one became a missionary, that one claimed the book saved his life.....
The most vivid scenes in the book are also the spectacular ones from the movie—the Roman fleet’s battle at sea, the chariot race between Ben-Hur and his enemy Messala, and the crucifixion. But Wallace’s favorite scene wasn’t one of thrilling action, or even one where Christ appeared. It is a quiet scene where Ben-Hur tells his friends about the miracles he’s seen Christ perform—from turning water into wine to raising a man from the dead—and asks them what they make of it. Balthasar, one of the original three wise men, replies, “God only is so great.“
“When I had finished that, ” Wallace confessed, “I said to myself with Balthasar, ‘God only is so great.’ I had become a believer. ”
(Source: click here)