Tear-Jerking Goodness

Unspeakable: Facing Up to the Challenge of Evil In his excellent book, Unspeakable, Os Guinness reflects on the heroic efforts of the French Huguenots who hid Jewish children from the Nazis during WWII.  Philip Hallie wrote about this account in his book, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed.  When Hallie first read about the Huguenots’ compassion, he was moved to tears by “the rarity of pure goodness” that he saw in the story.  Guinness comments on this:

“Eleonore Stump …argues that the same faculty of intuition that allows us to recognize the difference between degrees of evil also allows us to discern goodness.  ‘We recognize acts of generosity, compassion, and kindness, for example, without needing to reflect much or reason it out.  And when the goodness takes us by surprise, we are sometimes moved to tears by it.’

“Stump points out that we have no words to describe the different grades of goodness as we do for evil, so she uses the words, ‘true goodness’ to capture the contrast with real ‘wickedness.’  Repeatedly we weep when we are surprised by such true goodness.  Partly we weep because of the surprise.  Partly we weep because of the unexpected grace of the gift.  But mainly we weep because of the sheer heart-stopping wonder of the beauty of true goodness itself.”

Guinness reflects:

“Could it be that there is a mystery to goodness that is even deeper than the mystery of evil?  Certainly, like a diamond flashing in a pile of dirt, it is often set off even more brilliantly in contrast with surrounding evil.  In the topsy-turvy relativism of our modern world, there are those who turn everything upside down, inside out, and the wrong way round.  Good they make bad, right wrong, and true false, until many people are so confused they cannot tell the difference and see everything as gray or a matter of spin.”

“Can goodness be made fashionable again, not discounted as prim, uptight, and puritanical?  There is comfort, if slim comfort, in the knowledge that when we begin to reap the harvest of evil that such relativism is sowing, goodness will once again be seen for what it is” (p. 225-226).

Well said!  And by the way, used copies of both books listed above (by Guinness and Hallie) are under $5 shipped on Amazon.  Recommended!

shane lems

5 Replies to “Tear-Jerking Goodness”

  1. Is the contrast even more enlighting when we see the blessing in the cruse and curse in the blessing. Is that the feet on the ground for the people of God until the consummation?


      1. The world will be put to right and for those with ears to hear in many ways it is already made right. In the presence of faith, hope and love the mental health of new creations is the profound marriage of blessing and curse that when you get kicked in the teeth by sickness or tragedy it is so important to live the paradox. This reality brings me to tears.


  2. Greetings, Shane.

    Thank for this review.

    Are you familiar with the WWII efforts of the Reformed people in the Netherlands to harbor Jews as well as many others on the run for the Nazis?

    We list a number of titles on this subject and gladly send you a copy of them for your perusal and possibly a review.

    Albert van der Heide http://www.GoDutch.com/store


    1. Albert: Thanks for the comments. I lived in Dutch Reformed churches the first big part of my life, so I am familiar with those stories – and have even heard some first person accounts.

      I’d be happy to review what you send my way; send me an email and we can go from there. pastorlems at gmail dot com. Thanks!


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