Les Misérables: Javert.

In wake of the 2012 movie Les Misérables (which is an awesome, tear-jerker that I highly recommend), I thought I might write a bit about my favorite character: Javert.  But before I go into that, I’d like to comment on some of the aspects of the movie that I really enjoyed.

From the start, I was already biased in favor of Russell Crowe’s character, and I thought that he did a very impressive job with the singing and playing the role.  My favorite song in the movie was probably the exchange between Javert and Jean Valjean; something about the way that Russell Crowe sang “24601” in response to Hugh Jackman singing “You know nothing!” throughout was simply captivating. In the exchange, we hear the only real background information about Javert: that he was born in prison and that he was surrounded by criminals.  When considering this in contrast with Javert’s character, it speaks volumes to the bitterness that propelled the force known as Javert to the surface.  About a quarter of the way into the movie, I realized that all of the characters had a particular tune that was unique to them and was impressed with what it suggested: we each sing a different melody in life.  There were, of course, recurring songs that were shared by characters, but they also related to the relationships between the characters that were singing them.

If you haven’t watched the movie yet, the rest of this post is not for you (unless you read the book, then feel free :)) If you have watched, feel free to keep reading! 🙂

Now onto my thoughts on Javert the character.  Hated by most people (who have either read the book or watched the film) due to his relentless pursuit of Jean Valjean, Javert is actually, in my opinion, the tragic hero of the story.  From the beginning, he is constantly in Jean Valjean’s face, making sure that Valjean doesn’t forget him at all.  Even after Valjean becomes Father Madeleine (or Monsieur Le’Maire in the movie), Javert constantly makes appearances at critical moments, tirelessly hunting prisoner 24601.  However, if viewers are to truly view the story from the eyes of their hero, Jean Valjean, they would realize that Valjean speaks the truth at many junctures of the movie: Javert is merely doing his duty to the utmost.  Javert’s dogged tracking of prisoner Jean Valjean is the upholding of his own principles and the law, which he believes he embodies.

With the knowledge of Javert’s origins, it is incredible to see the man Javert as he is.  From living with criminals and convicts, he became the essentially incorruptible manifestation of the law.  The magnitude of change that is required shows the innate sense of justice that Javert had.  Another interesting dynamic is provided in the song “Stars,” because though he and Valjean contrast so much, they both look to the heavens and God to justify their actions and aid them through travails.  How often is it that Christians who all pray to the one God have disagreements in the basest of matters?  Javert and Valjean illustrate this point in their confrontations, and it’s an interesting point for believers to note.  Javert, in my eyes, symbolizes the man who struggles and strives with his own sins without much help from God, relying instead upon his own moral compass or human righteousness.  How pitiable is it for a man to go through life, purging himself of his past and clinging – blindly, at that – to principles.  It is truly a thing to be admired yet not desired.  Yet how similar were we to Javert before we met God, attempting to do what was right in the eyes of ourselves and society, but not seeing the grace that God made readily available?

Javert is also the only constant character in the movie, depicting a man truly devoted to his own set of principles.  Most all the characters in the movie either change for the better or worse depending on their individual circumstances, but Javert is the only character who doesn’t let his circumstances circumvent his own morality.  When it does, the character of Javert still refuses to be corrupted and he ends up taking his own life.

On that note, I have a sneaking suspicion that Javert’s end is a major reason for my association with and sympathy for his character.  If you know my story (see “This is My Story, This is My Song), then you know that I myself understand the thoughts surrounding the point before the end.  For Javert to take his own life instead of accept Jean Valjean as a changed man goes to show the futility of Javert’s whole life and beliefs, and it shows him finally coming to terms with the fact that his whole life was basically a terrifying deception.  Very few can imagine the pain of discovering that what you stood for your whole life was a falsehood, and the depth of pain and regret is clear from Javert’s actions.

I feel like there is so much of Javert that personifies our standing before God pre-salvation.  For all of the “good people” in our lives who haven’t found God, how many of them do, in fact, do what is right in their own eyes and principles just as Javert did!  As humans, we would like to think that we all have the capacity of magnanimity that Jean Valjean inherited in the beginning, but the truth is…for every Jean Valjean, there are many, many Javerts.  Before we find God, we still have morals and cling to them, but after we discover God, our perception of life changes; Javert finally discovers this new life, but he was so unfortunately blinded by his own code that he didn’t even give himself a chance to taste the sweetness of a life supplied with grace.  So although you might not like Javert at all even after he turns a new leaf and puts his award on Gavroche’s resting body (though I don’t recall that in the book), at least understand the under-appreciated tragedy that is his life.  And for my believing friends who have seen the movie, just be so glad that you have been blessed with the alternate path; whereas Javert’s walk lead to his demise, we are capable of attaining the Jean Valjean life through our Savior and what He has done for us.

This is My Story, This is My Song

A while back, a sister at the Church in Westminster suggested that we young people should write down our testimonies as a method for solidifying our stand in Christ while also refreshing our memories of how far the Lord has led us.  I had a previous post that attempted to do this, but upon going back to it, it was so full of pretense and unnecessary eloquence; it lacked the clarity that often comes with the Spirit’s leading.  I hope that today I can put down all the milestones of my Christian life in one go…

From childhood, I was never really that immersed in the church life.  One could say, I suppose, that I “grew up in the Church” because my parents and grandparents and the majority of my nearby relatives were saved, and also because I attended a few meetings, but I oftentimes am reluctant to say so because of the inconsistency of attendance.  The truth of the matter is that I really only went to church when family from New Jersey came to visit, and only upon writing this do I remember the many changes that have occurred in me.  However, just by bringing me along with them, I now realize that they were doing the work of sowing a seed in me, and more and more, I see the life within that seed beginning to blossom.

The next major stepping stone of my Christian life was definitely baptism.  Though I have since made peace with the events that transpired, I still am incapable of resisting tears when I attend other baptisms because of my own baptism.  I heard that two of my closest friends from church were going to get baptized and was therefore encouraged to join them.  At this time, I was still in the 6th grade and in retrospect, very unclear about the power and significance of baptism.  I still remember the night before the baptism, I shared the news with my parents.  My dad told me soon after I broke the news that he just didn’t think I was ready for it and told me to either postpone it or not participate in it the next day.  As a child, I felt like I was being robbed; I was still at the stage of life where I constantly compared myself to my peers, and I remember thinking that if my two friends were getting baptized, then I was clearly qualified to be as well!  So the discussion ended, and the next day came.  I was reminded once again to postpone the baptism, but when the day came and the announcement was made, I felt like a coil was slowly being tightened around my baptism, as if it were inevitable that I would either have to stand up to what the church planned or go against my parents. Since my parents didn’t attend the meeting that morning, I suppose the child-like fear of them was not as overwhelming as having to tell the brother giving the announcement in front of the whole congregation that I would be postponing my own baptism.  I struggled greatly within myself, not wanting to proceed with it knowing that my parents did not think I was ready, but too afraid to speak out for my own.  Minutes before the actual baptism, I asked an older sister who led the young people if it was better to (and this was exactly what I thought was happening at the time) go against God or go against your parents and the answer she gave should have confirmed that I should have listened to my parents.  I still remember her saying that rarely will the two be in opposition and that God will rarely have us go against our parents.  However, in the foolishness of my youth, I decided to continue with the baptism even after hearing the advice.  As I put on the robes, I began to feel a great anxiety within my heart; I distinctly remember a terrible sense of self-loathing, wishing that the moment I was submerged beneath the water to bring about dark shadows or filth to come out of the water and symbolize what a wretched person I was.  As I stood with my two brothers while saints prayed for us, I remember feeling a deep resignation and an inward plea for forgiveness.  As I sat in the water and prayed aloud, tears flowed out as my prayer called out for forgiveness, knowing what I was about to do.  Then I was baptized and brought into the new life.

At this point of my testimony, it’s not a difficult thing to feel disgust with my person.  I forsook my parents’ advice, robbed them of the chance to watch their only son get baptized, and struggled and strove with myself, not realizing the importance of baptism all the while.  My parents didn’t speak to me for two weeks after that and I didn’t attend the meeting the whole while.  I went on a trip with family during that time, and when my parents called and the phone was handed to me, the other side was complete silence.  More and more, I felt myself begin to regret my baptism, but seeing the end result, it would appear that the Lord was putting me through so much in my first few steps as His servant.  When I finally came home, our family did something we didn’t do before: we began to have family meetings at night to discuss the importance of baptism.  Many tears were shed, I won’t deny that, but during this time, I gained so much clarity and reinforcement in the Word about the matter from my parents.  From this day on, they somehow found it in themselves to forgive me, and the matter of Christianity was now an open topic in the household whereas before we hardly mentioned it.  I now see that the Lord turned the situation around to even bless the family, letting my father open up about his beliefs and discoveries made in the Lord and generating family discussions about the faith.  More and more, our family has become a closer family in Him, and I do believe that it was my schismatic baptism led us towards our current standing.  I still feel ashamed whenever I recall my actions and thoughts, but all I can do is just give praise to the Lord for blessing me with such forgiving parents who only wanted to see their son grow in the Lord more and continue to help me grow day by by.

After this, my Christian life reached a period of growths and stagnancy.  Sometimes, the Spirit and the interest in the Lord would burn within, but other times, I would forsake the meeting in favor of less important things.  In my youth, I was what some may call an “on-and-off Christian;” sometimes I would be very passionate about who the Lord was and what He did for me, but given a bit more time, the passion died down to a simmer.  However, after this time of baptism, I was able to lead an elementary school friend to start attending church at a church near her home, and it was an encouragement to be able to experience the success of a simple gospel so early in my life.

Years passed until my next big experience with the Lord.  Now, from a strictly human point of view, we more or less take a person’s outward expression for what they feel inside. However, in 9th and 10th grade, I withstood severe attacks from the enemy.  My grades began to suffer and it led me down a slippery slope.  My relationship with my parents was constantly frayed by academic disappointments and I began to be more and more discouraged with life.  On the outside, I was still a smiling, joyful high-schooler, but on the inside, serious contemplations of suicide began to emerge.  As academic underachievement after another came, my mother began to grow anxious, which I now definitely understand. She understood what this meant, and in my youthful ignorance, I had the gall to think she was overreacting.  My grades were such a disappointment to my parents that eventually they would avoid talking to me much.  At dinner, they talked to one another about their day, but I would feel unqualified to speak at the table because of my lack of accomplishment.  The enemy pounced on these times and pushed me almost to the point of self-destruction.  I began having thoughts that if I didn’t exist, my parents wouldn’t have had to work so hard to make money and feed an extra mouth that was incapable of doing things right.  I began having paranoia about how my friends at school would perceive me when they discovered what was happening to my grades, and so more than once would lie to them about how I did on tests and in school overall.  My parents were the biggest inspirations in my life and to have them express that much disappointment and frustration with me led to truly believe that the world was better off without me.  I was just an empty burden, doing nothing positive to contribute to the family.  As I rode my scooter to get the mail along the sidewalk of the street, I would often see cars coming by and imagine just throwing myself into the street and experiencing the release of darkness.  However, the Lord rescued me from this terrifying view of life by providing me with two great friends in high school.  Just by having them, the Lord provided His encouragement through them and what they would say to me, and the fact they were both Christian made it that much more expansive of a relationship.  We were able to talk about God as well as our own plans and thoughts in high school, and somehow, by having this brother and this sister in my life, I pressed on towards the end of high school without an echo of the darkness that dwelled within.

Though I had a solid number of friends, there were very few of my friends that could claim to be as close to me as these two were.  Through my experiences with them, I grasped and now still hold onto John 15:13 which I have since memorized: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  The mind that was clouded with darkness no longer portrayed my life as meaningless and pitiful, but instead I realized two things: 1) if I ended my own life, there would be people who would miss me and ask God why such a thing would happen, and 2) I had a life to live that I might lay it down for people like this brother and sister.  More and more, He magnified this sliver of love within to expand to cover all of the saints in His church, and from this point on, the fascination with death was replaced with the victory of His life within me.  At around the end of my sophomore year in high school I developed an untapped ability to write, and so I began to express my inner thoughts through words and found a cleansing catharsis that rid me of Satan’s hold once and for all in such a dark matter.

Now that I think about it, there must have been a reason the Lord denied me the inspiration to put my testimony down on paper, and it seems to make sense now.  The latest milestone (though surely not the last) of my Christian life is the finding of a Christian fellowship in college.  Given the reputation of UCSB, I was actually very worried that my Christian life would flounder during college, and constantly prayed over the matter.  Then the Lord showed once again how incomprehensibly mysterious He is by bringing a brother who graduated from UCSB and moved from Vancouver to Irvine for work. This brother attended the church service about a week before I was set to move in, and I still didn’t really have any contacts or any plan of finding a fellowship in college.  However, I was alerted to his graduating from UCSB and encouraged to go and find him after the meeting. So after the meeting was over, I tried to look around after lunch to see if I could stop him and ask him about the fellowship and the Christian life at UCSB, but I seemed to have lost him.  A bit put off by my failure to take hold of such a great opportunity, I walked to the restroom and behold, the brother was just washing up there!  I took the time to ask him about the fellowship and church he attended during college and he gave me the phone number of an elder at the church that he attended, Chinese Evangelical Free Church.  Following fast upon this, I subsequently gave him a call and a ride was arranged for the first weekend of my arrival at UCSB.  I was taken by brothers who I am growing closer and closer to in college, and eventually I joined the Christian club that a majority of the brothers at CEFC attended called AACF, or Asian American Christian Fellowship.  The Lord blessed me with encouraging brothers in college who made the transition very easy and led me to grow more and more in my faith, particularly in the way of spiritual boldness, and I look eagerly ahead to spending a college career in fellowship with His people.  CEFC bore many more similarities than I thought to my home church, the Church in Westminster, and I cannot deny that it is by the Lord’s grace and mercy that all things were set in motion for me in college.

Through all things, my spiritual walk with Him has proven time and time again that He does, indeed, live a victorious life and that through His death, I also have this overcoming life within me.  My testimony is one of struggle, but not one of defeat; it speaks to the subtle workings of God and the many testings that each of us has to face sometime in our running of the race.  I hope that what I have put down today may be a source of encouragement to all my brothers and sisters in Christ out there, as well as a point of interest for non-believers desiring for a more abundant, peaceful, and fulfilling life.  Forgive me if some of the information shocks or upsets you, but do know that it has made me that much stronger of a soldier for Him, a worker of the faith, and a brother to His children.  While some of my story does depict a desperate darkness, give praise to the Lord that He has kept me with Him all the way and has molded me into the worker of light that I am today.  I’ll leave you with verses that I feel really express my walk thus far which are 1 Peter 1:3-9:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

The Return!

Normally don’t do this, but posting a chat that led to some very intriguing freestyle material…credits and props to S.W. for helping me shake off all the dust!

  • S.W.

    You forgot.

    FRIENDSHIP BEGAN THAT DAY, FRIENDSHIP ENDED THIS DAY.

  • Ben Eazy-Chillin Ben-Fan

    AGH

    my heart

    it hurts

    a knife, blood spurts

    friends now

    friends ever

    keeping you is my endeavor

    forgive me for what i did not do

    a poem filled with what is true

    meeting you was a true blessing

    so please stop with my emotions messing

    signed, ben fan

    to [S.W.] addressing

    THE EMPHASIS IN THAT POEM THOUGH!

  • S.W.

    THAT WAS AMAZING

    YOU’RE AWESOME

    THAT’S GOING IN MY BLOG

  • Ben Eazy-Chillin Ben-Fan

    YOU HAVE A BLOG!?!

    SHOW MEEEEEEE

  • S.W.

    HAHAEHAEHAEHAEHAHEHAEHAEHEA

    ISN’T THAT FUNNY? “THAT MADE MY DAY” NOW MEANS LESS THAN “THIS IS GOING IN MY BLOG”

    OH MY GOSH NOPE

  • S.W.

    JK MAYBE

  • Ben Eazy-Chillin Ben-Fan

    THAT’S NOT HOW I MEANT IT!!!

    I WAS JUST SO PUMPED

  • S.W.

    WE’LL SEE

  • Ben Eazy-Chillin Ben-Fan

    AS AN ENGLISH MAJOR

    TO HEAR THAT YOU HAD A BLOG

    YOU SEE

    BECAUSE I LOVE WHAT I DO

    BUT ALSO

    IT WOULD’VE BEEN MORE MEANINGFUL

    IF YOU SAID

    IT MADE YOUR NIGHT

    BECAUSE IT IS RIGHT NOW

    S.W. WHY ARE YOU FRIENDS WITH ME I’M SUCH A DEVIOUS PERSON

    I DON’T DESERVE YOU

    YOU’RE RIGHT!!! MY FOCUS IS ALL WRONG!

    I PROMISE TO CHAAAANGE

  • S.W.

    CHANGE IS TOO LATE, EX-FRIEND

  • S.W.

    I HOPE THAT HITS YOU WHERE IT HURTS, BECAUSE THAT WAS MY DEEPEST INTENTION

    HAHEAHEAHEAHEA JK

  • Ben Eazy-Chillin Ben-Fan

    [S.W.]

    😥

    that is all

    OH WAIT

    YOU SAID JK

    YAAAAAAY

    S.W. CAN BE SO SCARY SOMETIMES!!!

    BUT SHE IS SO MERCIFUL~

    XD

  • S.W.

    OH SORRY I MEANT THAT FOR SOMEONE ELSE

    I WAS SAYING “HAEAHEAHAHEAHE JK ROWLING” TO SOMEONE

    BUT FOR SOME REASON, YA KNOW..

  • Ben Eazy-Chillin Ben-Fan

    OH NO

    YOU TYPED IN THE WRONG BOX

  • S.W.

    YEAH, THAT’S WHAT UH… THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED

  • Ben Eazy-Chillin Ben-Fan

    NOOOOOOO

    STILL HIT WHERE IT HURTS

  • S.W.

    BACK TO MAKING YOU FEEL LIKE CRAP

  • S.W.

    YEAH, I TOTALLY WISH THIS CONVERSATION WAS AS POSITIVELY PLEASANT AS THE OTHER CONVERSATION-THE HARRY POTTER ONE-I’M CURRENTLY HAVING WITH A BETTER FRIEND (OR SHOULD I JUST SAY “FRIEND,” BECAUSE YOU’RE NO LONGER IN THAT CATEGORY ANYWAY?)

  • Ben Eazy-Chillin Ben-Fan

    OH MY GOODNESS

    I CAN’T HANDLE THIS ANYMOR

    ANYMORE*

    GOOD BYE, CRUEL WORLD!

  • S.W.

    THIS IS WHY

  • Ben Eazy-Chillin Ben-Fan

    HOW MANY POEMS MUST BE WRITTEN

    TO PROVE TO YOU THAT I AM SMITTEN

  • S.W.

    BEN, THIS IS WHY PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND. “CRUEL” WORLD? WHAT IS THIS? YOUR CHOICE OF WORDS SHOW SO MUCH ABOUT HOW YOU’RE SUCH A NEGATIVE PERSON… UUUGH

    SOOOO NEGATIVE, MAN

    WE DON’T NEED ANY MORE NEGATIVITY IN THIS WORLD

    SOOO CARRY ON?

  • Ben Eazy-Chillin Ben-Fan

    WITH YOUR TROLLING MY HEART DOTH REND

    AS I PEEK AROUND TO SEE THE BEND

  • S.W.

    OOH YOU SHOULD TOTALLY USE THAT FOR YOUR FUTURE GIRLFRIEND

  • Ben Eazy-Chillin Ben-Fan

    YOU DECLARE “THIS IS THE END, EX-FRIEND”

    SO I TRY MY BEST THIS FRIENDSHIP TO MEND

    WHAT GIRLFRIEND

    I’M TOO NEGATIVE

    ANYWAYS, CARRYING ON

    ONCE MUTUAL, NOW ONLY ONE-SIDED

    A FRIENDSHIP BY THE INTERNET IS DIVIDED

    I TRY, I TRY TO MEET YOUR NEEDS

    I CRY, I CRY AS MY POOR HEART BLEEDS

    EACH DAGGER STABS DEEP, RIDDING ME OF ALL SLEEP

    LAYING IN MY BED, LIKE A CHILD DO I WEEP

    THE LOSS OF INNOCENCE MOURNED, HOSTILITY AND MENACING BORN

    LEAVING A POET IN A WORLD SO FORLORN

    WITNESS THE ECHO OF MY SOUL’S DEEP CRY

    RESOUNDING LOUDER THAN THE NORTH WIND’S SIGH

    RAGING ‘GAINST FATE FOR SUCH ILL LUCK

    TRYING TO CLEAN UP ALL OF THE MUCK

    THAT I CAUSED WITH MY UNKNOWN ACTIONS

    OH, THE DESPAIR OF ACCIDENTAL PASSIONS

    THE FORGIVENESS DOES UPON YOU DEPEND

    SIGNED, A SORROW-FUL, ONCE-UPON-A-TIME FRIEND

  • S.W.

    WORDS ARE JUST WORDS.

    JKJKJKJK THAT SUCKS

    AFTER ALL THAT? I SHALL GIVE YOU ANOTHER CHANCE AT THIS FRIENDSHIP

    YOU HAVE WON ME OVER

    HAHEAHAEHEAHAEHEAHAE

  • S.W.

    DARN YOU, ENGLISH MAJOR

  • Ben Eazy-Chillin Ben-Fan

    THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUUUUU

Good Luck.

Now that finals are here, it’s been quite an ordeal,

But remember each day to have a good meal.

Your mind to strengthen and your body to heal,

Eating well helps keep living life real.

The next thing is sleep, it’s really the best;

there’s nothing better before a long test.

Though it’s dead week, keep living life

take a small stroll to get away from the strife.

Remember to breathe, put your mind at ease.

Take a break from studying, if you would please.

Last but not least, to pass the long day

Remember always to make time to pray.

You will always have those praying for you

so do a little praying of your own too!

God listens to and answers each prayer

so don’t you ever feel like He’s not there!

Good luck to everyone with your studying and testing

soon it’ll be winter and we’ll all be resting!