Book Reflection: Night

Category: By Christian

Earlier in the week I posted a book "review". No more. Perhaps it's just a matter of semantics, but from now on I'm going to post book reflections. As I finished Elie Wiesel's Night, I was humbled. The book had earned Wiesel a Nobel Prize in 1986, and was so amazing that there was nothing left to "review". Plus, I'm not a literary critic. All I can do is read books and then share what I've learned and how they made me feel.

I was tipped off to this book by two of my favorite professors at seminary. During a class session a few weeks ago, one of them recommended the book and commented that it would change your life if you read it. When the other professor agreed with this claim, it became a foregone conclusion that I would read Night in the near future.

A word to the wise: Night is not a benign read. It consists of 120 pages of some of the most difficult content I've ever processed as Wiesel describes his experiences in concentration camps as a 16-year-old. While the vocabulary and the pacing are uncomplicated, the story is difficult to work through as you get a taste for how evil the heart of darkness can truly be. There is an added horror in knowing that it was real and imagining myself as this young man. There is an added horror in thinking about how many stories there are that are still untold. Stories that are equally as frightening, and equally as desperate. There is an added horror in knowing what people are capable of, and what people are capable of looking past. There is an added horror in knowing that there is genocide and terror that are going on at this very moment, and stories like this are being recreated even as I type.

One of the most fascinating aspects to Night are the theological and spiritual insights that the author shares. It's like reading Job, but doing so with an emotional connection to the characters. There is a certain distance inherent whenever I read Job that allows me to rationalize aspects of the story away. But Night has skin. It has breath. It is the reflection of a man who loved God, who doubted God, who loved and doubted at the same time, who went through so much that at points he was numb to God and to the great evil going on around him.

Why read this during the Holidays? Why share it on Christmas Eve? Because today is the dark day. It is the night. But joy comes in the morning time. Tomorrow we wake up and we celebrate the light of the world breaking into history in a very real and creative and powerful way. We celebrate redemption on a macro-level. We celebrate a hope that is given to all of us. Without knowing and searching and processing the darkness, one cannot be truly grateful for the brightness and the glory of the light. One cannot understand how some people find it difficult to encounter the light and engage it. Sometimes it's difficult to emerge from the dark and enjoy the light. It burns. You don't understand it. You question why you were separated from it.

Read Night. It will change your life.

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