Analyzing Mr. Ives’ Christmas in Consideration of Believing Three Ways in One God
In considering a novel from the philosophical perspective of an ideological book, it is important to understand how the foundational morality of the ideological book cradles the story and characters of the novel being analyzed. In other words, in order to understand on a deeper level the life of Mr. Ives in Hijuelos’ Mr. Ives Christmas, it is vital to have a thorough appreciation for the philosophical ideology presented in Lash’s Believing Three Ways in One God. Lash’s book goes into detail about the Trinitarian God, the relationship between God and man, the Holy Spirit which binds God to Man. As God is named the Father, he serves as a loving and guiding force through his Holy Spirit for his begotten Son, Jesus Christ (Lash, 2002). The Trinity is also seen in other subjects and relationships, such as the relationship between father and son. Hijuelos’ novel records the life and spiritual experience of Mr. Ives, as he deals with various situations which threaten his ability to remain in touch with God. Mr. Ives struggles with his past, being abandoned and adopted, with his present, the murder of his son on Christmas, and with his future, finding spiritual solace in forgiving the murderer (Hijuelos, 1996). By interpreting the struggle of Mr. Ives from the philosophical perspective of the Trinity, one is able to see how God works in the world of Man by the power of the Holy Spirit.
One of the first significant events in the life of Mr. Ives is the fact that he was abandoned as a child and adopted by another family, and it is this situation which calls attention to the fragmented relationship of Mr. Ives with his biological father (Hijuelos, 1996). Mr. Ives is always somewhat pensive and despondent due to the fact that he was an abandoned child. It is difficult for him to understand why he could not have been a child as treasured as the Christ child. In relationship to the Trinitarian God, Mr. Ives experiences an immediate schism early in his life, a disconnection between himself and his biological parents. In a way, the disconnection between Mr. Ives and his biological father is similar to a disconnection between himself and God the Father. Lash notes how the father is the responsible party, the caregiver, the creator of life, and how the father serves as a model for his wife and children in how to serve others (2002). It is difficult for Mr. Ives to feel the purest connection to God, as he questions his own self worth and the actions of his parents.
Another major event in the life of Mr. Ives is the fact that he loses his son, soon to become a priest, through the act of a violent murder (Hijuelos, 1996). Mr. Ives learns to find solace in living a religious life and aims to share his appreciation for the Church with his family, an appreciation which inspires his son to become a priest. However, with the violent murder of his son on Christmas, Mr. Ives is faced with the utter grief of losing a child. Mr. Ives has been able to create a meaningful relationship with his own son, something his own biological father was not able to do, and then, suddenly, his son is swept away from him. In looking to Lash’s book, one notes that the relationship between the father and the son is spurred by the Holy Spirit, the act of giving love, of serving the son (2002). However, Mr. Ives has his life turned upside down when the death of his son removes his son from his life, leaving him unable to love his son in the flesh any longer, and being unable to receive love from his son.
A final vital event in the life of Mr. Ives is the fact that is finally able to forgive the murderer of his son (Hijuelos, 1996). Mr. Ives turns cold, becomes separated from love, perhaps due to the loss of his parents, his father, perhaps due to the loss of his son, or more accurately, perhaps due to his own difficulty in succumbing to love, even in difficult times. However, he is finally able to let go of his wanting to change past and present events, and he is able to move forward into his future with only the hope of things being better for himself and his family. Lash notes that the Trinitarian God is fed by the spiritual impetus to give love, the Holy Spirit which moves people forward in their relationships (2002). Mr. Ives is finally able to rid himself of the darkness of his past and present life and to move forward into the future with the hope and joy of the living God.
In analyzing Hijuelos’ story of Mr. Ives from the perspective of philosophy of Lash’s understanding of the Trinitarian God, it is vital to contemplate Mr. Ives as a man moving through the darkness of suffering and struggling to surface in the light of God. Although it is difficult for any person to experience situations which impede one’s ability to give and receive love, to share love, it is important to note how people sometimes fail to grasp the ever present and ever loving energy of God in disturbing situations and yet are also able to return to His grace. Although Mr. Ives faces repeated challenges, he is able to come to a realization of the beauty and magnificence of love and to surrender to it and apply it to himself and other people in his life.
Hijuelos, O. Mr. Ives’ Christmas. HarperCollins, 1996.
Lash, N. Believing three ways in one God: a reading of the Apostles’ Creed. SCM Press, 2002.