"I am always in love." – Count Mippipopolous, The Sun Also Rises
What are the values in my life? Do they originate with God? Or myself? Or even more frightening, can I ever really know the answer to that?
The Count’s words have been ringing in my head for the better part of a week now. Might be nothing, but it might be something. As I sit and mull those words in my head over and over and over, I ask what it means to be "always in love?"
I don’t think the Count is insinuating that he always has a pretty lass on his arm and in his bed come sundown. I think he’s after something entirely different. In truth, I think he’s after something Biblical.
Hemingway started the novel with an epigraph from Ecclesiastes, "but the earth abideth forever" (1:4). The author even wrote in a letter that the earth was the true hero of the novel, because it will always remain. But I do believe that there was something else palpitating along underneath that. The whole book of Ecclesiastes bleeds onto the pages of The Sun Also Rises. Think of the scene where Brett goes with Jake to church and yet she will not pray; "Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong" (5:1).
But there is a response to Ecclesiastes. I’m not talking about a novel or some commentary, but I refer here to the Gospels of Jesus Christ. And as I think about how Christ came to fully demonstrate that man should "fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecc. 12:13), but Christ also came to impart that "as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. […] This is my command: Love each other" (John 15:9, 17).
And the Count is a man who understands the words of Jesus. He knows the values that Jesus taught. And he sought to help Jake Barnes uncover the "secret" by setting him on his pilgrimage to Pamplona.
So I ask myself, am I always in love? The answer: I truly hope to be.