My teenage daughter is obsessed with Hamilton, the musical that has taken Broadway by storm. Not being a fan of rap music, I was not particularly interested in listening to the soundtrack, but seeing my daughter’s reaction to it made me more than a little curious. We recently had occasion to spend quite a bit of commuting time in the car together and, since she had the music on her phone, the show’s soundtrack became the soundtrack of our drives. It’s easy to see why the show has become so popular, and a show that can save Alexander Hamilton’s place on the $10 bill and increase the appreciation people have for our Founding Fathers can’t be a bad thing, no matter how much rap it contains (and fortunately there is plenty of other styles of music that I found quite compelling). I was equally impressed with my daughter’s ability to sing along with the cast (sometimes mixing multiple parts, which was amazing) with her inserted commentary about the political and military background of the events depicted, even pointing out the historical inaccuracies in the script! Clearly she’s been learning more than just the lyrics. But there was one lesson in particular I wanted her to learn from the show, and it is one that Hamilton and his wife, Eliza, learned the hard way. CAUTION: Mild Spoilers ahead.
When my wife and I were engaged, we went through a multi-week Marriage Preparation program with our pastor, whom I’ll call “Father N.” One part of the program called for us each to fill out a questionnaire to determine if we had similar attitudes about different aspecs of marriage, from Faith to finances, family and even fidelity. One question in particular stood out: “Are there any circumstances under which you might choose to get a divorce?”
My bride and I had actually spoken about this in advance and both made it clear that infidelity would be a dealbreaker, so we both answered “yes” to the question. When evaluating our results, Father N pointed to that as the only problem with our answers. He said that in answering “yes” to that question, we were giving ourselves an “out,” which contradicts the Catholic view of marriage. Even though we had only one serious condition in mind, the idea that there could be one thing that would end our marriage could lead us to consider other lesser offenses to somehow rise to that level. In giving ourselves an out, we would have been entering our marriage without understanding what we were really doing. Unfortunately, too many couples in our society today lack that understanding and think that it’s OK to abandon their marriage for far more trivial reasons.
That was not true in Hamilton’s time, and the musical shows us this. Whether through faith or through fear of scandal, even when Hamilton’s infidelity comes to light, he and Eliza stay married, as difficult as that is. In “Burn,” Eliza makes her feelings clear:
You forfeit all rights to my heart
You forfeit the place in our bed
You sleep in your office instead
Recognizing that he is at fault, Hamilton refuses to give up. In “It’s Quiet Uptown,” he rekindles his Faith and does his best to win Eliza’s heart again:
I take the children to church on Sunday
A sign of the cross at the door
And I pray
That never used to happen before
It is his steadfastness, especially in facing the death of their son Philip, that they eventually experience “a grace too powerful to name” and she eventually forgives him:
Alexander by Eliza’s side
She takes his hand
After his untimely death, Eliza rededicates her life to continuing his legacy as best she can:
The Lord, in his kindness
He gives me what you always wanted
He gives me more / Time
She raises money for the Washington Monument, speaks out against slavery and, most telling, establishes the first private orphanage in New York City and helps raise hundreds of children, saying “In their eyes, I see you, Alexander.” Finally, she expresses her belief that she will see him again, in time.
Maybe in addition to learning about our nation’s founding, fans of Hamilton will also learn the true spirit of commitment, love and forgiveness inherent in marriage. Wouldn’t that be something?
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Trump, the Church and Immigration
The “Final Five” Show Us How It’s Done
The Left is Wrong About Rights
Ends, Means and Democrats
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