The Little Light that Might Want to Shine

In today’s excerpt from Toni Morisson’s novel Beloved, “The Little Light that Might Want to Shine” (CUA Primer, page 56), John D. finds himself at a moment of self-confrontation. Through the novel, a rusted tobacco tin comes to represent John D.’s heart, where he tries to shut up his painful memories. But, in this scene, John D. has “red eyes” from crying, and we see “His tobacco tin, blown open.” The place where this self-confrontation happens is interesting, a former dry-goods store that has been turned into a small church. It’s not all that difficult to think about how self-confrontation and confrontation with God might happen in a grand church, like the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, right next to CUA and with which CUA has a very close relationship. But what about the church described here? How might even a church like this serve as a setting for self-confrontation and confrontation with God?

Photo: “Tobacco Tin” by darkday is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Schola Eburuoh says:

    This church, like any church, is a place of faith and a place where one can grow in their faith in God. What sets this church apart from many others is that it offers no presumptions.
    This quaint church allows anyone to attend mass or simply pour his or her heart out to God in its “damp cellar,” while a large or extravagant church building may seem intimidating to some. The very fact that this church is a redesigned dry-goods store makes it even less so. The building’s own reformation exemplifies that, just as a simple structure can be remodeled to become a dwelling place of Christ, a broken human being can reconstruct their faith and find hope and reconciliation. This church allows Paul D to find that “little light,” despite the “papered over” windows of the small church.

  2. Erica Farrell says:

    This passage is probably my favorite that we have read all summer, because after looking through the primer once again in preparation for school beginning, I was reminded of this passage and how it came from Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”. I read this book in my AP Literature class this past year and it was probably my favorite book we read all year. It explored the past and how it can affect the present and future along with exploring the present and the future and how that can effect our interpretation of our past.

    I think in the passage itself, the meaning of the church is twofold. First, it shows how God, himself, can transform people and transform spaces to become holy places and holy people to glorify His name. And I do not think this is selfish at all; I believe that He transforms hearts so that we might be able to know him and recognize our true “destiny” as cliche as it might sound. Secondly, I think the church in the passage exemplifies the community that God wants us to have to grow towards him. The church is not the most gorgeous and beautiful churches like the Basilica, but God is still present there and a community that forms through God, no matter what the church itself might look like, is a community worth fostering and upholding.

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