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  • Shawn Thornton

Golding's "Lord of the Flies" and Me

Tuesday - May 12th

Today's Scripture to Read: Romans 3:21-24


Many of us remember reading William Golding's book Lord of the Flies in High School. It has been a staple for English classes since the 1950s. The fictional story of British schoolboys being shipwrecked on an island stirs the age-old question of whether or not humanity is basically good or basically bad. At first, the boys seem innocent and kind. But, the longer they live on the island, the more savage-like they become. The story suggests that even the most innocent among us will ultimately return to a basic survival of the fittest, revealing the depth of man's depravity. 

In 1966 Australian businessman, Peter Warner discovered six boys from the age of 13 to 16 on an uninhabited island in the Pacific near Tonga. These six young men had been shipwrecked there some 15 months prior when they stole a fishing boat near Tonga's capital. In those months, they worked together, encouraged each other, and even put a makeshift cast on the foot of their leader when he had a dangerous fall from a cliff. This real-life Lord of the Flies demonstrated that their experience brought them together. They cared for each other and worked together as a cohesive team. The actual group that really was stranded reacted much better than Golding's fictional castaway boys.

After reading an article, sent to me by a friend about the real-life Tongan young boys and their castaway experience, I thought back to my high school reading of Golding's book. Mr. Vitale, my sophomore English teacher, selected me to lead a class discussion of Golding's book. Since many of my classmates knew of my Christian faith, Mr. Vitale believed I was the perfect person to discuss such a philosophical, almost theological book. The study guide questions he gave us spent time comparing the sin nature that came out in the boys to the teachings of Christianity and its view of original sin.  

I was not much of a preacher type in high school. Now, before I leave you with the impression I was popular or a jock - I was not. I was a geek. I didn't seek to share my faith with very many people at all. Who would listen to the geek?! But in this classroom discussion, people began to ask me about my faith. Then they began to ask me about how God forgives us of our sin and how we get rid of this evil within us that Lord of the Flies reveals. 

Much of those three days of discussion in class centered around the same concepts Paul addresses in Romans 3:21-24. He would agree with Golding that we have a deep and very dark sin problem at the root of who we are as humans. Paul points out that we are all sinners who fall way short of God's character and glory. He also makes it clear that Jesus is the only way that any of us can be made right (justified) before God. We cannot make ourselves right with God. That is why God sent Jesus. Our discussion around Golding's fictional story kept circling around these Romans chapter three concepts. God taught me the importance of being prepared for conversations that matter with people, in places, and at times you would never expect. 

While leading the discussion didn't make me more popular than I was before, it did seem that Mr. Vitale and my classmates had a certain level of respect for me. Again, my popularity didn't skyrocket, but those who knew me did seek me out when they had philosophical questions about life. What I had feared might ostracize me further from my peers actually gave me a bit more freedom to share Christ with others. How about you? Are you noticing and seeking to use opportunities God gives you to have conversations that matter? 

As we live our lives, God gives us opportunities to have conversations that matter with others - we need to seize them!


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