Over the summer, I have made it a point to increase my reading load. Mein Kampf, Pride and Prejudice, A Man Called Peter, Pontius Pilate, and many others have been the subject of my reading. Yet, standing apart from the rest, a single author has recaptured my attention, returning my reading to the world of novels.
This man is known as John Grisham.
John Grisham is a former criminal lawyer who, after 10 years in law, left his practice and began writing law novels. Since then, he has been published in dozens of languages and has sold over 275 million copies worldwide. A practicing Christian, Grisham’s unique writing style presents an extremely accurate portrayal of man in all forms, from the richest of lawyers to the poorest of children.
While Grisham’s books can be (and often are) depressing, he paints a picture of man’s sinfulness that is yet to be matched, digging into the heart of man and showing the darkness, but also finding good. Even in portraying the most horrible slob in his book, he still finds a ray of goodness. From here, we can learn three major lessons from Grisham’s view of man.
1: Money corrupts.
In his highly-debated book The King of Torts (mature, recommended ages 17+), Grisham shows the change that money can bring to men. Clay, a poor lawyer struggling to succeed in his job, hits a “lawyer’s jackpot”, landing a case that puts $15 million in his pocket. In an instant, Clay is elevated from the lower, working-class into the rich and successful. Refusing to see the pain that the money has brought him (even his longtime girlfriend leaves him), Clay forages on, attempting to create an even greater future and hoping to make more money.
In the end, he fails, and ultimately declares bankruptcy. He has lied, cheated, and even, unbeknownst to him, caused a death. His drive for money and power was greater than anything he could ever find.
Yet, in the end, his friends surround him and lift him out of the pit. He gives up most of his money, and his girlfriend returns to him. He redeems relationships and comes clean in court.
Grisham shows the disgusting habits exercised by many of the rich and famous. In one scene, a lawyer brings two “secretaries” with him onto a yacht, offering them to any of his guests as “toys”. In another scene, an obscenely rich tort lawyer discusses his two Gulfstream jets, each costing a cool $40 million, with an additional $2 million annually for upkeep.
Thankfully, Grisham also finds the good in people. While he isn’t one of those that refuse to see the bad, he has an equal understanding of man’s depravity and God’s gift of goodness. He shows the bad but doesn’t forget to remind show his audience the small pieces of goodness.
2: Unsaved man has three goals in life: money, power, and success.
Grisham makes it clear: in his search for money, power, and success, man is willing to do anything. His thirst for money is endless; when given $10 million, he begins to wish for $100 million. One Gulfstream seems like too few, so he buys another.
In the end, the only answer is God. Man, in his depravity, looks to fulfill his desires in the world. Saved man knows that his desires can only be fulfilled in God, and he is willing to give everything, even his life, to draw closer to Him.
As Christians, we understand that success is only measured by our relationship with Christ. Money and power mean nothing in our Christian walk and should be treated accordingly. Our focus is God, not the world, and in Him we can trust.
3: The path to success and power only leads to death.
Power corrupts, and success builds ego. Without a clear, rich grounding in real friends and family, along with a full mind set on Jesus, every man will go down this path whether he like it or not.
Money, too, can lead men down the wrong path. In his novel The Rainmaker, Grisham actually shows that poor men with relationships are happier than rich men spending their time in solitude. The underlying message seems to be “money and success are great, but relationship is the most important thing in life.”
Furthermore, we find that, while our general relationships are important, nothing is more important than our relationship with God. That relationship is the key, defining factor to our life and success as Christians. Without it, we have no hope, but within it, we find the greatest hope imaginable.
“While our general relationships are important, nothing is more important than our relationship with God. That relationship is the key, defining factor to our life and success as Christians.” -Elisha McFarlandTweet
Grisham’s portrayal of man’s depravity was beyond excellent- it was unparalleled. In a writing style closely reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor, he shows man at his worst, but also leaves the slightest ray of hope. As Christians, we should remember that God works great things in even the most stonehearted of men (myself especially). There is no-one greater than our God!
Alright, that’s all for today. Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have an awesome day.
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Image credit to LearnLiberty.
Author’s note: My apologies for the recent lack of posts. I have been taking a much-needed break from my writing, but I have now returned in full force. Thank you for your patience, and be sure to watch out for more posts!