I prefer my Jesus with less divine certainty, so I guess that means I agree with you. Well, definitely read the novel; like I say, I think it's great, but go whole hog and get the unabridged version. I've read it . . . five times, I think. But I've actually said before, though I don't know that I've said it on here, more or less what you've just said; The New Testament, the Gospels, is the story of Christ living the perfect example of a selfless life, but Les Miserables is about the redemption found when a flawed human being attempts to do the same. So, yes, in some ways it is more moving and, as you say, a powerful idea for a character . . . the idea that it is never too late to redeem yourself by becoming self-sacrificial and I don't mean that just in terms of dying, as he does in the end, but in terms of living your life for others, as Valjean does in the novel, somewhat less so in the musical, though Cosette is the symbolic Other in both cases. I suppose it is the worst kind of sentimentality when the dying Valjean sings at the end, "Forgive me all my trespasses and take me to Your glory." But it moves me anyway. Whether you believe in a literal heaven or not, I think heaven is the only possible ending for the character, within the world of the novel. I would guess that you can compartmentalize things like that in much the same way I can with more atheistic works of art and get the emotional catharsis of the character, plot and emotional arc of the story, even when you don't come close to believing what the novel posits in its universe. I guess if we couldn't compartmentalize like that, no one would read horror novels. And many of the religious classics wouldn't have survived into this less faith-based age. But Les Mis has and I think rightfully so; and if the book doesn't argue for God's existence, it argues for the redemptive power of Valean's belief in him, which is probably equally important. I think every person who calls themself a Christian should read Les Mis; it's a book about the powerful good that can result from faith, when it's done correctly, which I have always admitted, it often isn't.