“The word Satan is so anthropomorphic”
'THE HINT OF AN EXPLANATION' Graham Greene
A man said this to an ‘agnostic’. The encounter between the two men begins when the agnostic throws away a piece of tasteless, ‘Dry bun ‘and his eyes meet those of the Roman Catholic man. On a depressing night train journey after the end of the Second World War, the Catholic man tells of his childhood.
This is the story ‘THE HINT OF AN EXPLANATION’ in Graham Greene’s ’21 Short Stories’. He converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism, was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and although he did not win, his other works have been made into films, but in his later years he also dabbled in child prostitution, and apart from his works and his life as a writer, he is not a priority for me to deal with, but this ‘Hint of Explanation’ is the most highly regarded, as it is said to be the most Catholic of his works.
To return to the story, from the agnostic man’s point of view, the man he met seemed happy. This was partly due to a prejudice that this was a characteristic of Catholics, and the dialogue with the ‘happy man’ was a boring experience. The Catholic man’s stories about God were boring to the agnostic. Sensing this, the man added a few words. If you put the invisible into words, it becomes a cliché, and I can only give you hints. So the man started talking about ‘Satan’. That’s a word that’s too limited to describe,” the happy man continued, and so the agnostic finally became amused and began to listen to the story.
The happy man, “David”, was forced as a child to help at mass in a small church. Wearing a surplice,・・・・・・ the village had only about 50 Catholics, and traditionally Catholics were hated in the country. This was because of the past of a 16th century Protestant martyr who was burned at the stake. The man’s nickname was Popey Martin, associated with the Pope. The boy was not interested in the rituals and costumes of the Mass, and at the same time he was afraid of making a mistake. One day the boy sight of the husband of one of the bakers. The man was obsessed with hatred of Catholics and was ugly. He was also a freethinker and no Catholic would buy bread from him. The man saw the boy, approached him and gave him a curly cake. He had a fine ‘electric railway’ in his house. The boy was told he could play with it as he liked and began to go to the man’s house. Each time the man gave him bread, and one day he told him that he had made the same stocking that was given out at Catholic communion, He fed it.
So I asked Isn’t that just the same as you eat in church?. The boy replied, “Difference. The man asked, “Why? The boy replied, “Because It hasn’t been consecrated.”. The man said, like a biologist, “If you look at them under a microscope, they are the same, aren’t they?” he said, The boy then tried to show that it was useless to look at them under a microscope by saying, “accident(endekomenon) does not change. The man said, ‘Then I want to try the consecrated buns’ Bring it to me. Then I will give you this electric railway”. The man’s aim was: “I want to taste what your God tastes like”, but the boy is tempted by the model train, which is perfect, and at the same time the man threatens him with a master key and a knife with which he can enter any house, so he steals the hostia.
But the boy stays in his room and does not go to the man. Nevertheless, the baker came to the boy’s house, used the master key and even entered his room, looking down at the boy by the light of the moon. David, where is it?’ the man whispered. The boy would not tell him where the hostia was on the chair. When he refused too much, the man began to threaten to cut you up. So the boy went and got the hostia on the chair, swallowed it and said, ‘I swallowed it’ and ‘Go home now’. Then the man shed tears and left in the darkness, a defeated man.
If holy is at a distance and is separate from God, does it cease to be holy? No, what is holy remains holy. Even if it seems that something has gone, it can come back if there is a will to return to holiness.
The boy has realised that what he is doing now, what the baker is saying, is a more serious sin than the punishable sin of murder, even if he takes away the hostia. Until now he had thought of Mass as something repetitive and boring, something that fits into everyday life, but by engaging with this man he becomes more aware of his own holiness. The boy reaffirms the previously vague meaning of the ritual by being shaken by a being who presumably wants to take advantage of him.
For the agnostic in this novel, his encounter with the man he could talk to out of boredom on the tracks that crisscrossed the country was ‘lucky’. Perhaps the priest’s boyhood was just a series of chance ‘lucky’ moments.
Finally, the original title of the novel is ‘THE HINT OF AN EXPLANATION’, but the Japanese translation may be difficult to understand. How about this?
Explanation is a verbal explanation of the reason for the delay, while Description is a written explanation. Shouldn’t the ‘holy’ be made to ‘interact’ even if the explanation wasn’t good enough? Just as Jesus walked and visited people…
Communion，’Communion’ means Various exchange.
The priest in this story is in dialogue with an agnostic who is also “happy” because of his love. But we must not forget that the ‘happiness’ of a priest is not all there is in the world. This priest is also a small being in the world. What we should be more aware of is that if absurd treatment is the darkness of the tunnel, then we should create the world after we have gone through it.
Beginning with Aristotle’s endekomenon and developed by Thomas Aquinas. It has since been developed in various philosophies and theologies, so it is not easy to summarise.
Thomas Aquinas held that entities are ‘perceived by the intellect’ through and beyond the sensible perception of the accident. Since the idol belongs to the senses and the substance to the intellect, the transformation of the substance of the bread into the body of Christ is in no way inconsistent with the fact that the idol still appears to our eyes as sensibly the same thing. It is by faith that, after the transformation of the substance, we recognise the idol with our senses and the substance of the body of Christ.
Adolf Harnack, as a Protestant theologian, disagreed with Thomas Aquinas’ “The body of Christ as idolatry in bread.
If it is present until it disappears, is that not idolatry?” he objected. But Harnack asked whether the dog was “eaten in error? or ‘eaten as a sacrament’, but this ‘hint of explanation’ for the metaphor of ‘whether Jesus is present?
seemed to answer the question.