f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Everybody Else Is Talking About It So Why Can't I?

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Monday, March 22, 2004

Everybody Else Is Talking About It So Why Can't I?

The Catholic Church has had quite a year. First they make the news with charges of abuse and pedophilia among their priests. Then Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code becomes a word-of-mouth blockbuster, implicating the church in a (fictional) conspiracy most readers believe blindly rather than sussing out the truth. Finally, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ opens amid a roar of voices—both for and against the film. Top that off with Pope John Paul II, who has looked like he’s minutes from death for the past seven years, becoming the 5th longest serving pope and it’s been quite the roller coaster.

I keep hearing charges of this country becoming post-Christian or that our culture is anti-Christian and yet year after year stuff comes up (be it Left Behind or Jabez or The Passion) that shows issues of faith, spirituality, and religion are closer to the front burner than we may realize.

I’d hoped to get a lot more research done this weekend on the presentation of crucifixion in literature than I did. But just to show you how much of an impact this story has had on our culture, I can tell that I walked out of our library with three novels and forgot to pick up Reynolds Price’s Three Gospels which is a fiction author’s non-fiction attempts at offering his own version of the gospels. Within our library system as a whole there were over 70 titles. I’m hoping a few of them get to me before this week is out.

The four books I currently have on hand, however, are Lamb, which we’ve been discussing, The Gospel According to the Son by Norman Mailer, Alexandra Ripley’s A Love Divine, and Nino Ricci’s The Testament.

Mailer is a literary heavyweight with two Pulitzers and was co-founder of the Village Voice. Alexandra Ripley is best known for writing one of the most hated books ever, Scarlett, the sequel to Gone with the Wind. Ricci I’d never heard of, but is a Canadian novelist with some impressive literary credentials. There’s no way I can get through all of the books, but we should be able to get a feel for what the authors are doing and look specifically at their presentation of the via dolorosa. Tying into all of this will be Gibson’s Passion and perhaps even other classic artistic representations of the events surrounding Jesus’ death.

I don’t necessarily know what we’ll accomplish with all of this, but it seems that those twelve hours have compelled artists for centuries and it might be worthwhile to look at what each found so compelling and how they went about portraying that.

Hope you join us over the next couple of days.