Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jackie says this book "made me think about everything I've been told about her, and how (and why) I came to believe it to be true."

Provocative, haunting and indelible, Colm Tóibín’s portrait of Mary presents her as a solitary older woman still seeking to understand the events that become the narrative of the New Testament and the foundation of Christianity.

In the ancient town of Ephesus, Mary lives alone, years after her son’s crucifixion. She has no interest in collaborating with the authors of the Gospel. They are her keepers, providing her with food and shelter and visiting her regularly. She does not agree that her son is the Son of God; nor that his death was “worth it”; nor that the “group of misfits he gathered around him, men who could not look a woman in the eye,” were holy disciples.

Mary judges herself ruthlessly (she did not stay at the foot of the Cross until her son died—she fled, to save herself), and her judgment of others is equally harsh. This woman whom we know from centuries of paintings and scripture as the docile, loving, silent, long-suffering, obedient, worshipful mother of Christ becomes a tragic heroine with the relentless eloquence of Electra or Medea or Antigone. Tóibín’s tour de force of imagination and language is a portrait so vivid and convincing that our image of Mary will be forever transformed.

Read an interview with the author about this book HERE.

Jackie says:
"Wow, expect to hear a lot about this novella.  Colm Toibin, author of Brooklyn and The Empty Family, has taken on Mary, Jesus' mother in a brilliantly written but very provocative way.    His story begins with Mary as an old woman living alone--Toibin's Mary did not have other children, and Joseph died before the crucifixion.  She is not cooperating with the folks who are now working on the Gospels.  She doesn't believe her son was the son of God, nor anything else about him being a deity, including his death being worth it.  Mary loved her son, but found him to be arrogant and perhaps ill.  She found his friends to be misfits, and believed the tales he told and the "miracles" attributed to him to be completely ridiculous and untrue.  She is a very judgemental person, but she judges herself most harshly.   She is far from being the Madonna that most of us have been taught.

I found this to be fascinating and more than a little disturbing, and I am NOT a religious sort of person.  I imagine that those who are will be very upset about this book.  I know that it made me think about everything I've been told about her, and how (and why) I came to believe it to be true.  This book could lead to a lot of amazing conversations if people will stay calm and give it a chance. I hope that they do."

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