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BethR

Anne Rice writes novel about Jesus

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Hmmm, and one of the most famous Green Lanterns -- Hal Jordan -- became a villain...

(Although I hear that he may have become a hero again, since I stopped reading...)

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Lex Luthor's battle suit? Green.

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Regarding the Star Wars series, we find the following:

A red lightsaber defeats a blue lightsaber in Episode IV and V. Obi Wan (blue) is hacked by Vader (red), and Vader (red) forces Luke (blue) to retreat.

Yet, we learn from Episode I, II, and VI that green light sabers defeat red lightsabers. Obi-Wan kills Maul (red) with Qui-Gon's (green) lightsaber. Dooku (red) retreats while facing off against Yoda (green). Luke's new blade (green) repays Vader (red) in Return of the Jedi.

I cannot remember how Episode III went down.

What do we learn from this? Green, the color of Islam, Satan, the Matrix, Kryptonite, Salazar Slytherin, and various other synthetic evils is the color of the Jedi. Perhaps Palpatine was right. Personally, I disdain the Jedi, for their elitism. So as a populist, this connection excites me. It is similar to having a grand jury indict Mace Windu for leaking the name of a low-level Republic ambassador. Sure, I'd like to see them take Yoda down, but I'll settle for Windu. He's really doing all the decision making anyhow. We all know that Yoda lied about the Trade Federation.

Edited by Michael Todd

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Yoda lied! People died!

biggrin.gif

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I managed to read about half of the first book last year, while juggling work and house-hunting and moving and so on. And I liked what I read quite a bit. Rice's use of the first-person is particularly interesting.

Given that I have written an entire essay on the treatment of sexuality in Jesus films, I am now intrigued to read this, from Books & Culture's review of the second book:

With the plotting of a master storyteller, she weaves together

Jesus' love for a beautiful fifteen-year-old village girl

, the gifts of the magi, the wedding at Cana, his baptism, and the opening steps of his ministry. . . .

Rice wants us to understand Jesus in the context of his culture. What would it have meant to be thirty and unmarried in Nazareth? In one early scene, his older brother James demands of Jesus, "What's the matter with you?

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So it is interesting to see these elements introduced into what is, to all appearances and by all accounts, a deeply, devoutly, and even traditionally constructed life-of-Jesus work.

But is it any good? Ron Charles says no, it isn't.

As a Christian, I appreciate the reverence and piety that Anne Rice brings to her second novel about the life of Jesus, Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana. But as a reader, I kept wishing some gay vampires would swoop in to liven things up. There's no questioning Rice's sincerity in this epic project, begun in 2005 with Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. Indeed, sincerity marks every page, every interview and especially her devout Web site, which immediately inspires your computer to sing "Ave Maria." (Seriously.) ...

Rice's Jesus can bear the sins of the world, but he can't convincingly carry the burden of narrating his own story. His voice vacillates between modern Christian orthodoxy and New Age gooeyness: "Something inside me let go," he tells us while meditating in his special grove. "It had been a long while since I'd savored such a moment, since I'd let the tight prison of my skin dissolve. I felt as if I were moving upward and outward, as if the night were filled with myriad beings and the rhythm of their song drowned out the anxious beating of my heart. The shell of my body was gone. I was in the stars."

There are lots of deeply devout films aimed at Christians that stink. I suspect this might be a deeply devout book that's a literary turkey. I hope I'm wrong.

Edited by Christian

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Christian wrote:

: There are lots of deeply devout films aimed at Christians that stink. I suspect this might be a deeply devout book that's a literary turkey. I hope I'm wrong.

I hope so too -- though I admit it was a little unnerving when Rice allowed her first book to be optioned by George Barna's "spiritainment" group. FWIW, the two-thirds of the first book that I read were pretty good, but of course, they take place when Jesus was a child and following his family wherever it went -- so he's more of an observer than an active participant. I imagine the second and third books would be a lot trickier. (Especially if she intends to have Jesus narrate the experience of his crucifixion and resurrection, after the fact, in the first person.)

As for "New Age gooeyness" ... well, if St. Paul can talk about being taken up into the third heaven, why not Jesus? Especially given the Transfiguration and all.

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As for "New Age gooeyness" ... well, if St. Paul can talk about being taken up into the third heaven, why not Jesus? Especially given the Transfiguration and all.

Good calls both, especially since St. Paul adds "whether in the body or out of the body, I don't know." That said, I don't like Rice's reference to "the shell of my body" -- St. Paul would never have talked that way, and I can't imagine Jesus doing so either. Still, not exactly a deal-killer.

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FWIW, the two-thirds of the first book that I read were pretty good, but of course, they take place when Jesus was a child and following his family wherever it went -- so he's more of an observer than an active participant. I imagine the second and third books would be a lot trickier.

I read the first book a few months ago. It was quite good. I really enjoyed the tone of the book, and being a bit of an N. T. Wright buff enjoyed seeing some of his arguments put into action on the page. I think the work on the relationship with James and Jesus was particularly good, and the process of having Jesus learn about the circumstances of his birth well done.

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I haven't read the Anne Rice book myself, but I have summaries here of the various apocryphal infancy gospels and someone who has read the book may be able to tell us how parallel they are.

-The proto-euangelium of James supports the immaculate conception of Mary and at the birth of Jesus states that the mid-wife supports the claim of virgin birth to those who oppose Mary's claims. The writer claims to be James the brother of Jesus and also claims to have been the son of Joseph by a previous marriage, supporting the idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary. This one probably isn't used too much in the Anne Rice book since it only covers up until around age two of Jesus' life.

-The Arabic Infancy Gospel details Jesus' time in Egypt and his miracles in boyhood (which seems to overlap with the Infancy Gospel of Thomas). Jesus' bathwater cures a child of leprosy. Two thieves attack Jesus and one pays the other to have mercy on the family. Jesus prophecies that these two thieves will be crucified with him. Jesus made water spring from the desert and Mary washed his shirt and made some plants grow. Jesus changed children into goats for hiding from him but then changed them back and they played with him.

-Pseudo-Matthew is another. Jesus is worshiped by the lambs and oxen and donkeys after his birth. He casts out dragons from a cave so his family can rest there on the way to Egypt. He tames wild beasts, including lions and leopards. He made palm trees bend down to feed Mary. Jesus' 30 day trip to Hermopolis lasted 1 day and when he got there all the idols in the city fell and broke. At this all the people in the city worshiped Jesus.

-Infancy Gospel of Thomas is the most famous. Jesus gathered water from a river into pools and purified it. Made clay sparrows and gave them life by clapping. The son of a scribe was upset that Jesus did this on the sabbath and Jesus cursed the boy, who withered. Cursed a boy who ran into him and blinded the parents for scolding him. Gave an allegorical interpretation of the alphabet after being taught Hebrew & Greek. Raised a child who fell off a roof from the dead. Healed a kid who split his foot with an ax. Multiplied wheat 100x. Made a table leg grow. Rebuked by a teacher,who he kills. Another teacher marvels at his wisdom and he rewards him by raising the second teacher from the dead. Jesus saves his brother James after being bit by a snake. Raises a sick child and a construction worker from the dead. Jesus amazes temple workers with his knowledge.

My theology professor stated this is informed by two gnostic ideas, that Jesus did not grow in wisdom (Lk. 2:52), but was infinitely wise from birth, having no human limitations and that he was the possesor of secret knowledge that made him more apt than the greatest teachers of that time.

-There is a book called the Unknown life of Jesus: From Buddhistic records that was supposedly found in Tibet in the 1920s and by the 1950s had been proven to be a hoax and is based primarily on forgeries from the early 20th century, but if there's anything in Rice's book concerning a trip to India or Tibet, then that is probably where it came from.

Seeing as Rice sounds like a devout Catholic from her quotes on the blogs people have linked to, it is difficult to think that she would use these sources as authoritative, but I recall someone saying it was meant to be a historical fiction based on the testimony of early texts, and these are the texts that would probably be in mind. If anyone can tell me to what extent they represent Anne Rice's book I would be interested to find out how she handles this topic.

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I haven't read the Anne Rice book myself, but I have summaries here of the various apocryphal infancy gospels and someone who has read the book may be able to tell us how parallel they are.

-The proto-euangelium of James supports the immaculate conception of Mary and at the birth of Jesus states that the mid-wife supports the claim of virgin birth to those who oppose Mary's claims. The writer claims to be James the brother of Jesus and also claims to have been the son of Joseph by a previous marriage, supporting the idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary. This one probably isn't used too much in the Anne Rice book since it only covers up until around age two of Jesus' life.

That's in there.

-The Arabic Infancy Gospel details Jesus' time in Egypt and his miracles in boyhood (which seems to overlap with the Infancy Gospel of Thomas). Jesus' bathwater cures a child of leprosy. Two thieves attack Jesus and one pays the other to have mercy on the family. Jesus prophecies that these two thieves will be crucified with him. Jesus made water spring from the desert and Mary washed his shirt and made some plants grow. Jesus changed children into goats for hiding from him but then changed them back and they played with him.

nope

-Pseudo-Matthew is another. Jesus is worshiped by the lambs and oxen and donkeys after his birth. He casts out dragons from a cave so his family can rest there on the way to Egypt. He tames wild beasts, including lions and leopards. He made palm trees bend down to feed Mary. Jesus' 30 day trip to Hermopolis lasted 1 day and when he got there all the idols in the city fell and broke. At this all the people in the city worshiped Jesus.

nope

-Infancy Gospel of Thomas is the most famous. Jesus gathered water from a river into pools and purified it. Made clay sparrows and gave them life by clapping. The son of a scribe was upset that Jesus did this on the sabbath and Jesus cursed the boy, who withered. Cursed a boy who ran into him and blinded the parents for scolding him. Gave an allegorical interpretation of the alphabet after being taught Hebrew & Greek. Raised a child who fell off a roof from the dead. Healed a kid who split his foot with an ax. Multiplied wheat 100x. Made a table leg grow. Rebuked by a teacher,who he kills. Another teacher marvels at his wisdom and he rewards him by raising the second teacher from the dead. Jesus saves his brother James after being bit by a snake. Raises a sick child and a construction worker from the dead. Jesus amazes temple workers with his knowledge.

yes to a certain extent

My theology professor stated this is informed by two gnostic ideas, that Jesus did not grow in wisdom (Lk. 2:52), but was infinitely wise from birth, having no human limitations and that he was the possesor of secret knowledge that made him more apt than the greatest teachers of that time.

-There is a book called the Unknown life of Jesus: From Buddhistic records that was supposedly found in Tibet in the 1920s and by the 1950s had been proven to be a hoax and is based primarily on forgeries from the early 20th century, but if there's anything in Rice's book concerning a trip to India or Tibet, then that is probably where it came from.

No trips to the Far East.

Seeing as Rice sounds like a devout Catholic from her quotes on the blogs people have linked to, it is difficult to think that she would use these sources as authoritative, but I recall someone saying it was meant to be a historical fiction based on the testimony of early texts, and these are the texts that would probably be in mind. If anyone can tell me to what extent they represent Anne Rice's book I would be interested to find out how she handles this topic.

You could always read the book. Its a quick read, well done in terms of popular art.

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Rice writes on her conversion:

On the afternoon in 1998 when faith returned, I experienced a sense of the limitless power and majesty of God that left me convinced that He knew all the answers to the theological and sociological questions that had tormented me for years. I saw, in one enduring moment, that the God who could make the Double Helix and the snow flake, the God who could make the Black holes in space, and the lilies of the field, could do absolutely anything and must know everything --- even why good people suffer, why genocide and war plague our planet, and why Christians have lost, in America and in other lands, so much credibility as people who know how to love. I felt a trust in this all-knowing God; I felt a sudden release of all my doubts. Indeed, my questions became petty in the face of the greatness I beheld. I felt a deep and irreversible assurance that God knew and understood every single moment of every life that had ever been lived, or would be lived on Earth. I saw the universe as an immense and intricate tapestry, and I perceived that the Maker of the tapestry saw interwoven in that tapestry all our experiences in a way that we could not hope, on this Earth, to understand.

This was not a joyful moment for me. It wasn

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Has anyone read "Mnemnoch the Devil"? While ostensibly part of her vampire series, most of the book is basically Satan's perspective on the Bible. Interesting stuff, especially in light of her (I think) later conversion.

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Excerpt from Rice's spiritual memoir Called Out of Darkness.

I wrote twenty-one books before faith returned to me. And in almost all these books, creatures shut out of life, doomed to marginality or darkness, seek for lives of value, even when the world tells them they cannot have such lives....

These books transparently reflect a journey through atheism and back to God. It is impossible not to see this. They reflect an attempt to determine what is good and what is evil in an atheistic world. They are about the struggle of brothers and sisters in a world without credible fathers and mothers. They reflect an obsession with the possibility of a new and enlightened moral order.

Did I know this when I wrote them? No.

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Anne Rice's Facebook announcement:

As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

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Link to the Facebook announcement in question.

Here is the earlier status update to which she refers:

For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

Hmmm. Nineteen hours earlier, she posted this:

Gandhi famously said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” When does a word (Christian)become unusable? When does it become so burdened with history and horror that it cannot be evoked without destructive controversy?

And yesterday, she posted links to a couple of news stories about Christians who believe that killing gays is moral, etc.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Link to the Facebook announcement in question.

Here is the earlier status update to which she refers:

For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

Hmmm. Nineteen hours earlier, she posted this:

Gandhi famously said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” When does a word (Christian)become unusable? When does it become so burdened with history and horror that it cannot be evoked without destructive controversy?

And yesterday, she posted links to a couple of news stories about Christians who believe that killing gays is moral, etc.

For what it's worth, I sympathize. It's why I always answer the question "Are you a Christian?" with "It depends on what you mean." I'm not convinced that abandoning the word, with its 2000 years of historical context, is the right solution. But it's surely been put to horrendous use.

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I am curious to see how this will affect any future novels in her series on the life of Jesus. I haven't read the second book yet, but I got the impression she was just getting to the part where Jesus starts his movement -- and if Rice remains committed to Christ but not to his Church, then that could have interesting implications for how her novels play out. ESPECIALLY if she continues to believe in the divinity of Christ but doesn't think the movement he started is worth being affiliated with. (It's common for evangelicals and others to believe that the Church "went wrong" in the 10th or 4th or 2nd century, etc., but what if Rice thinks the Church "went wrong" even earlier? Certainly the New Testament is full of evidence to the effect that the followers of Jesus have always been a fractious, argumentative lot -- if that's what one wants to focus on.)

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I was first struck by how similar this is to many comments I have seen about how a term like "Christ-follower" is preferable to "Christian." (A distinction de rigueur these days...) Though I don't know if she would agree or not.

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Another post

My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.

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You beat me to it! :)

Also worth noting is that she posted that status update after posting the following Bible passages:

"
that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household." Gospel of Matthew.

"
, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. " Gospel of Matthew.

"1
in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." (1 Corinthians. St. Paul).

"1
, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood[a] it." (The Gospel of John)

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