In May, we learn about Loyalty from the Book of Virtues. The Devoted Friend is the story told by the Linnet to Water Rat about Hans’s friendship with the Miller. The whole time I am reading the story, my blood is boiling, over how the Miller takes advantage of little Hans’ friendship and why on earth Hans can’t see it.
Virtue forming literature in many ways is formative because it makes us angry. It stirs up in us a hatred for what is not virtuous, anger towards the opposite of what we know is intuitively right.
Spoiler alert… in the story little Hans dies to save the Miller’s son. So, I am angry that Hans dies and I am angry that the Miller is such a despicable man.
I don’t want to be like the Miller and I don’t want to be like little Hans, but then I do some reflection and realize I am like the Miller and little Hans is like Jesus. Now what? How come Hans’ actions bother me? Am I saying I don’t like Jesus? Hans selflessly served the Miller ultimately giving his life for someone who didn’t deserve it. I don’t deserve Christ’s love, Christ’s life or any good thing. So, part of me hates grace for others but wants it for myself. Evil, grace, the atonement of Christ, are necessary puzzle pieces for us to know the true God, and want to be with Him forever.
I do not think Oscar Wilde was purposely illustrating Jesus’ life-giving loyalty to us in this story but in the end, virtuous stories all go back to their source, Jesus the most loyal of friends and the rest of us who don’t fully appreciate Him.