This past summer, my mother observed, “You know, our family attracts weird people.” Everyone looked around at each other and laughed, fully realizing that all of us gathered at my parents’ anniversary celebration were those “weird people” to whom my mother was referring. We debated the reason for this attractive quality: Was weirdness a hereditary trait passed down through generations? Was it because we have a big family and weirdness was the only way to be noticed? Did our family send out some type of “weird person beckoning beacon” unbeknownst to us?
Students in English 10 have recently encountered an especially “weird” character in their reading of Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief.” Narrated by Death, the touching novel provides an unconventional perspective. However, Death is not the weird character. No, the protagonist’s foster father, Hans Hubermann, is the weirdest, and he is, by far, the students’ favorite character. The man is defined by a softness and gentleness that encourages friendship and conversation. His humbleness and frequent choice to put others before himself gives him an endearing quality. There is a striking lack of meanness in the man which makes him stand out, and it also is the reason the protagonist loves him the moment she is welcomed by his compassionate, gray eyes. The reason for Hans Hubermann’s weirdness is simple: moral decency.
From what source does such weirdness grow? The novel does not define it, but my family discovered, as the conversation ebbed and flowed over the evening, the well from which weirdness bubbles forth: It’s God. Yes, it’s God’s fault. He’s to blame for our weird people magnetism. John writes, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. [...]. We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen,” (1 John 4: 16-17; 19-20).
This is, in simplest terms, the way my parents raised us: show love and kindness to everyone and anyone; without hesitation, make this your first action and reaction. It isn’t the way of the world to refrain from hate and assumption and self-service. Opposite of much of the world, Christians act in service to God and others. It is God’s love which we beam out as a beckoning beacon to the Truth of the Gospel. What does this do? It attracts people — weird people — and it makes you weird, too.