I ran across this op-ed piece by A. E. Hotchner in the NY times the other day objecting to how the new edition of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast,

“…has been extensively reworked by a grandson who doesn’t like what the original said about his grandmother, Hemingway’s second wife. The grandson has removed several sections of the book’s final chapter and replaced them with other writing of Hemingway’s that the grandson feels paints his grandma in a more sympathetic light. Ten other chapters that roused the grandson’s displeasure have been relegated to an appendix, thereby, according to the grandson, creating “a truer representation of the book my grandfather intended to publish.”

This piece goes on to decry the attempt made by these editors and others to “clean up” Hemingway’s work. Here, we have a wonderful example of how the antiseptic, edited versions of people’s lives are instinctively preferred to thereal. Now, in Hemingway’s case, one could perhaps forgive his descendants for a little bit of posthumous character resuscitation; however, the idea that we somehow need to protect others from the foibles of who we actually are—the questionable opinions, the knee-jerk judgments, the areas of unexamined blindness—presupposes that these are not the universals of the human condition, that what really unites us is our altruism, moments of selfless love and periods of insightful introspection.

In no way is this an excuse for the, shall we say, regrettable aspects of our humanity; rather, this helps understand the need for the theology of the Cross as something which, in the words of the late Gerhard O. Forde, “calls a thing what it is.” Only with a proper diagnosis can we be appropriately treated; only with an acceptance of who we really are can we appreciate who we might become. This is where the Cross serves its dual function: revelation and redemption. It reveals the depth of our need–the dark places of un-edited fallen humanity–and the means and hope of our redemption.

When the library of my voluminous works are edited posthumously, I only hope that my editors, descendants, whoever, will appreciate that the very areas of my un-edited life were the ones that forced me to the Cross, forced me to proclaim this message (in some form) day after day, the ones that allows me to cry out with the Apostle Paul,”who will deliver me from this (un-edited) body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ!”