The Christian belief has naturally been involved in several martyrdoms as accounted within the pages of human history. It is undeniable that the process of the development of the said belief has been based upon the different display of martyrdom among its members through the years. However, as the years begin to pass, the strongly rooted society who has believed in the religious sector for so many years in the past begins to drive themselves away from the said idealism of being highly connected with the belief in a religious manner. Most likely, the said changes occurred because of the developments that the society has been undergoing lately.
The ways by which the people turn their backs from religion has well been observed upon the process of understanding Christianism through the years as well. This thought about the changes of religious recognition in the human society is the main idea presented in the story of San Manuel Bueno Martir. The author, Miguel de Unamuno applied his philosophical views of religion within the passages of the story that he created for the public to read. These idealisms are naturally related to the inability of humans to retain religious connection with the emerging process of social advancement. The balance of their views upon wealth and progress with that of their religious affiliations has been naturally been neglected by the human society. To understand the background of the story, an understanding of who the author is shall help in the process of clarifying the reasons behind the authorship of the story.
About the Author
Miguel De Unamuno was born in the medieval center of Bilbao to Felix De Unamuno and Salome Jugo. His idealism of national recognition of social freedom spurred from his willingness to stand for his country’s sake. As he grew towards maturity he has been noted for having a strong influence to the Spanish cultural and educational progression. His thoughts and his philosophies helped in the social recognition of the importance of language, ethnicity and oneness in religious belief. He was further known as an internationalist author. As he developed his skills in writing, he became much certain about his idealistic view on the facts about nationalism and how it is being demandingly destroyed by the outside forces of the human society. He continued influencing the human society with his writings. Because of his supposed rebellion against the oppressors of his country, he was placed in custody under house arrest. He remained in this state until he died.
San Manuel Bueno Martir: A Summary
The entire story of San Manuel Bueno Martir revolves around the life of a local Parish priest. The Spanish village with which he leads as a religious figure is the Valverde de Lucerna. The character of Don Manuel [the priest] actually signifies the legendary story within the village that beyond its territories lies a hidden city that signifies the difference between the spiritual an the material things as they affect the population living within the village.
The story has been introduced by a female narrator who was born and raised within the village. Angela Carballino was the one who discovered that their priest Don Manuel was actually an atheist who simply believed that he has a duty to keep the villagers from doing any unrighteous act that he decided to [allegedly] blind them with the idea of having a God [although he does not believe in one].
Angela on the other hand has an unbelieving brother, Lazaro who was more than certain that he should bring his family to a realization that there should be changes happening within their village with regards their beliefs. Apparently, his wealth and the culture that he was introduced to in the big cities of America convinced him that there is no God that should keep the people away from realizing the truth about life, that it could be lived well and that it could be lived to the fullest through the existence of the material gains that the world offers.
As the health of Don Manuel worsens, the villagers began to see the real person within the priest. Later on he dies and Lazaro follows on with his death. Every single detail of their faith about the non-existence of God has been written and hidden by Angela. She decided that the truth of their belief would only damage the beliefs of the people so she hid the actual written evidences upon the death of the two men who believed that there was no God.
A Recollection of the Story on the Life Philosophies of De Unamuno
Most critics say that the novel of Unamuno could be less considered as an actual novel. Instead, it is an obvious display of the philosophies of Unamuno as a writer and as an activist of his time. He pointed out that beneath the culture of the oppressors are the damaging elements that could lead towards the undeniable flaws of cultural development in certain small countries. Culture and tradition as well as religious belief is noted by Unamuno as a distinguished characteristic of a community that must not be disrespected in any way. This is the reason why he stresses in the story that whatever it is that may ruin the culture and the traditional beliefs of the people within a community must be kept hidden as it may bring huge changes and adjustments to the traditional living of the people. Most likely, it is indeed necessary to consider that changes in communities around the world should be viewed in a considerable balance. This is in consideration with the acknowledgement of the changes made fro progress and those others that are made for traditional destruction of culture and human belief.
San Manuel’s character actually appeared as a martyr simply because of the idea that he simply follows what he is supposed to do without even understanding the fact that he too has his own idealisms he has to live with. Instead of pointing out the importance of giving his own ideas a chance of being recognized or clarified at that, he resorts to simply taking in what he was supposed to believe in. his responsibility as a priest of the small village actually depended on the idea that he is simply doing what he is supposed to do as he was appointed to do so. He simply followed the norms even though he was not completely convinced of what he was teaching.
Today, many people think the same way as San Manuel does, it is undeniable that he portrays the role of people or officials who remain silent in their duties although they already know that there is something wrong with the systems in the society that they are supposed to live in. It has been observed through history that this particular idealism of remaining with the norms has guarded the peace and organization of the entire human society. However, with the said idealism, several changes in the society happened slower, until the time when the human civilization began to learn how to make their own opinions did the changes began to enter the social systems of the human communities.
Lazaro is primarily expected to be devastated about the truth regarding the personality of San Manuel; he viewed him as a saint instead. He noted that the responsibility of the priest actually came first before his own opinions and concerns. Because of this, it is rightful enough to view him as a saint who is able to plainly complete his responsibilities as a major member of the society, without letting his personal concerns hinder him from doing the job that he is expected to do. Being a saint in this part of the story is presented in being selfless for the sake of completing one’s social responsibility. As it could be quoted, Lazaro said: “ . . . Sister, he is a saint, a real saint . . . because his cause is a holy cause, super holy . . . for the peace, for the happiness, for the illusion if you would, of those that are charged to his care not a fraud.” (2005, 34) True, Lazaro understood how hard it might have been for the priest to accept things the way they are and to view his responsibility to the society as something even higher than his own idealisms simple to sustain the peace and security for the sake of the entire community that he handles.
Reading Critique and Current Events
With hardly any exceptions, though, the ‘recognized’ religions are dying. For example, Europe Since 1939 says: “Some 15 million Moslems in Soviet Asia tended in time to assimilate to the Communist style of life; under official pressures, loyalty to Islam declined along with peculiar Moslem customs.” And an American who recently visited the Soviet’s Uzbek Republic, which had been Moslem, said: “The majority of the citizens of this Moslem country have given up the practice of the Islam religion.” Buddhism once had a hold on people in the eastern Soviet regions. But reporter Peter Grose comments that the Buddhists now “contend with rapidly depleting numbers in holy orders, the advanced age of the lamas, and, above all, the subservience of Buddhist leaders, who, in echoing Soviet foreign policy, greet fellow Buddhists from abroad with statements about freedom of religion in the Soviet Union.” The situation of Judaism is the same. Grose states that the Soviet Union’s tactics “have dealt a savage blow to the Jewish community in the U.S.S.R.” He adds: “Soviet Jewry has all but ceased to exist as a unity, . . . the breakup of the Jewish community has been a consistent trend throughout the Soviet era.” He notes that the Jewish community is devoid of leadership. As the father of one Jewish family said: “Our rabbis have given up too easily.” Also, the young people born to Jewish parents have generally abandoned the practice of Judaism.
Yet, what of reports that tell of renewed interest in Yiddish, even among the younger generation? True, in recent years the government has allowed the publishing of a Yiddish literary journal Sovetish Heimland, the circulation of which is growing. But its chief editor is a Communist! When asked if he printed any religious articles, he apparently misunderstood and answered: “No, we print very few articles against religion.” He laughed when it was pointed out that the question referred to articles favorable to religion. “The interests of the synagogue don’t concern us at all,” he stated. Thus, whatever education is being given through Yiddish publications is in harmony with Communist goals, not those of Judaism. The report by the Minority Rights group in London gave a “reasonably accurate” estimate of the number of synagogues still open in the Soviet Union. It showed a decrease from about 3,000 in 1917 to only 40 or 50 now. And with the recent Soviet policy of allowing some Jews to leave the country to go to Israel, it is likely that religious Jews will be still fewer in the Soviet Union as time passes.
Religion and culture has always gone along together in discussions through the pages of history. It could not be denied that the advancements in the society today such as the technological innovations and the scientific discoveries paved the way to a more modern way of living. At some point though, modern living made the people forget of the basic things that they ought to recognize. First to suffer in the process of social progress is the religious belief of the people. Today, less number of people actually visits their churches or even makes necessary adjustments to simply pray. Along with religion, traditional culture also dies. In the same manner, the novel on Don Manuel showed that adjustments may not be as harmful as it may seem especially if they are proceeded to assist in making the human life a lot easier. However, taking in the influences of such particular changes should be viewed in a balanced manner whereas the changes that they may make on the traditions and the culture of the people should be given clear attention. As noted earlier, these changes are supposed to improve and not to destroy. However, no matter how people intend to retain the old beliefs and the traditions, it could not be denied that they simply fade through time. Considering this, it is very important that the instances with which cultural traditions and religious beliefs could still be remembered thus retained, chances should be taken seriously to reserve these particular aspects of human life and development.