by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” - Mother Teresa

October, 2010

This Summer, I found a used paperback copy of Mary Shelley’s original novel, Frankenstein. I’ve been a science fiction fan for years but I’d never read the book. Like most folks, though, I’d seen various film versions of the story. I was surprised by how little I knew about the story. I’ll try to give a brief synopsis.

It begins with a man named Robert Walton, who is undertaking an Arctic sea voyage. He and his crew are surprised to catch sight of a dog sled carrying a man. The following morning they discover another sled with a half-frozen man, who claims to be Victor Frankenstein of Geneva, Switzerland. He has a strange tale to tell.

The tale begins with his childhood and his fascination with “natural philosophy.” Finally, in Chapter 4, he becomes
“. . . capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter.” At the beginning of Chapter 5, he completes his work but finds his creation repulsive. We are not given a full description of his creation except its “. . . dull yellow eye[s] . . . His yellow skin . . . his hair . . . of a lustrous black . . . teeth of a pearly whiteness . . . watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set . . . shriveled complexion and straight black lips.” Notice that there is no reference to bolts sticking out of the creature’s neck. Nor is there a reference to a hunchbacked assistant named Igor.

Horrified, Frankenstein flees the scene of his experiments and when he returns the next day the creature is gone. Some time later, a letter from Frankenstein’s father informs him that his younger brother, William, has been murdered. He becomes convinced that his creation is responsible. After this, Frankenstein meets the creature in the mountains and it tells a strange tale.

The creature’s initial encounters with humans resulted in them screaming and running away. Made cautious, it found a hovel by a small cottage and began to observe its occupants, a young man and woman, and an old man. Moved by their poverty, it began to gather firewood for them secretly. Over a period of nearly a year, it learned their language. One day when the young man and woman had gone for a walk, it knocked on the door of the cottage and was welcomed by the old man, who was blind. Unfortunately, the young man and woman returned and drove the creature away. The next day, they moved away, afraid for their safety. This sequence also appears in films sometimes but not in this context. There are also no references to villagers with torches.

At the conclusion if this tale, the creature asks Frankenstein to create a mate for it so that it will no longer be lonely. At first, Frankenstein agrees but then changes his mind. Enraged, the creature vows to destroy everyone Frankenstein loves, and concludes by murdering Frankenstein’s bride, Elizabeth. Frankenstein pursues the creature, with the intention of destroying it somehow, and encounters Walton. At last, Frankenstein dies from exposure to the Arctic cold, depriving the creature of its adversary and its final revenge. The creature then casts itself adrift in the icy water to die.

In the beginning, God created beings who became monstrous in their sin, beings God should hardly be able to bear to look upon (Hab. 1:13). You and me. And yet, God didn’t forsake us but instead
“. . . gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16b ESV). God also gave us a book that tells all about God’s love for us, the Bible. By knowing and understanding God’s book, we grow in our understanding of God’s love. As I said last month, it’s amazing how little we sometimes know about the “book” that forms the basis for our faith, the Bible. I mentioned earlier that I’ve been a science fiction fan for years but even though Frankenstein is a classic I went for years without reading it. In much the same way, the Bible is the “classic” of the Christian faith and yet most of us have barely read it. How can we share a faith we don’t understand? God has loved us (John 3:16), made us alive (1 Cor. 15:22), saved us (Acts 2:21) and so much more. When we know all that God has done for us, it can be easy to share the wonderful relationship we have found.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17 KJV.)

Copyright © 2010 by David Phelps