The Deacon's Bench

Acclaimed Catholic novelist Mary Gordon has a new book out — and the subject strikes very close to home: it’s all about the gospels. 

From Newsweek:
Thumbnail image for 41NTTVKQPML._SL500_AA240_.jpgThe novelist and literary critic Mary Gordon loves the story of the prodigal son, for she is a Catholic in her bones. The story, from the Gospels, is of a father’s extravagant love for his proud and dissolute boy, a child so moronic that he spends all his money and lives among swine. Finally returning home, he arrives, dirty and broke, and his father throws him a party. The standard Christian interpretation is that the love of God is like the love of this father for this son: excessive and unconditional.   

Gordon has been thinking about something else: the plight of the prodigal son’s brother, the one who stayed home with his father and did his job, day after day, dutifully and without reward. “And what has he earned for his good behavior?” writes Gordon in her new book, “Reading Jesus.” “Not even a goat. Certainly not a party. His father has betrayed him, and he responds to the father with what is usually the child’s first ethical statement, ‘It’s not fair.’ ” 

Gordon’s publisher, Random House, calls “Reading Jesus” a religion book, and it is: a series of meditations on the Gospels by an American Catholic who is progressive and intellectual. But really, it’s a book about writing. What Gordon loves about the Gospels is not the pat lessons of Sunday school. She loves what a writer loves: paradoxes and inconsistencies, moments of high drama and plot twists. She especially loves the character of Jesus: ascetic, radical, perfectionist–the childish, arrogant, demanding boy. (The magical healer curses a fig tree to death because he’s hungry and it has no fruit.) The story of the prodigal son is a parable about the bounty of God’s love. But it’s also a story that has the message of much great fiction: life is not fair.

Continue at the link to find out what drove Gordon to write this book. It sounds like a fascinating read.

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