You may be familiar with G.K. Chesterton and his famous character Father Brown. Chesterton was a prolific British writer at the turn of the 20th century. Some consider his most famous work to be Orthodoxy which is a defense of the Christian faith. A must read for anyone who believes or is interested in the Christian faith.
Chesterton wrote his first series of stories about Father Brown in 1911. He based the character on Father John O'Connor (1870–1952), a parish priest in Bradford who was involved in Chesterton's conversion to Catholicism in 1922. Father Brown is a humble priest as well as a very cunning detective. There are close similarities between Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown. The creators of both were contemporaries and good friends.
At one point, Father Brown describes his approach to finding the criminal. The key is not the cleverness of a well trained sleuth, but humility.
I don’t try to get outside the man. I try to get inside the murderer. . . . Indeed it’s much more than that, don’t you see? I am inside a man. I am always inside a man, moving his arms and legs; but I wait till I know I am inside a murderer, thinking his thoughts, wrestling with his passions; till I have bent myself into the posture of his hunched and peering hatred; till I see the world with his bloodshot and squinting eyes, looking between the blinkers of his half-witted concentration; looking up the short and sharp perspective of a straight road to a pool of blood. Till I am really a murderer.
No man’s really any good till he knows how bad he is, or might be; till he’s realized exactly how much right he has to all this snobbery, and sneering, and talking about ‘criminals,’ as if they were apes in a forest ten thousand miles away; till he’s got rid of all the dirty self-deception of talking about low types and deficient skulls; till he’s squeezed out of his soul the last drop of the oil of the Pharisees; till his only hope is somehow or other to have captured one criminal, and kept him safe and sane under his own hat.
Singer-songwriter, T-Bone Burnett captures this well in his song - Criminals. It also reminds me of John Owen's quote, "The seed of every known sin is in my own heart."
Listen to the song and scroll down to read the lyrics.
I've seen a lot of criminals
I've seen a lot of crime
Doing a lot of evil deeds
Doing a lot of time
We speak of these men as aliens
From some forbidden race
We speak of these men as animals
We will lock in a cage
But there's one man I must arrest
I must interrogate
One man that I must make confess
There is no other I can blame
No other I can judge
No other I can cast in shame
Then require blood
I see him in the shadows down the hall
I see him in the plaster on the wall
There is no crime he cannot commit
No murder too complex
His heart is filled with larceny
And violence and sex
His heart is filled with envy
And revenge and greed
His heart is filled with nothing
His heart is filled with need
He's capable of anything
Of any vicious act
This criminal is dangerous
The criminal under my own hat
Copyright © 2014 Timothy S. Lane. All rights reserved.