Friday, November 9, 2012

A Dogma-free Yeshua for Today!

Anne Rice accomplishes something quite audacious, and yet respectful to existing sources, with her two novels concerning the Life of Christ. The second, The Road to Cana, is again a first-person narrative told by Yeshua himself, and this time he's past thirty, on the verge of somewhat reluctantly entering his ministry. His voice seems to me to be his own, not Anne's! Authorial craft, I suppose? In the first book, Out of Egypt, he is a boy whose family living in exile in Alexandria returns to Nazareth upon the news that Herod the Great has died.

We know we're not in Oz as this one begins when the mature Yeshua has apparently had a wet dream about a beautiful woman in his village, wakes up a bit wet and messy and washes his robe. Though none of the specifics are really Biblical up until the marriage at Cana at the end, except for the baptism in the Jordan and a few other moments, every event, every detail and description seems plausible to me. The historical context and background are immaculate. I especially love in these books, the mention of a place on a hillside where Jesus likes to go to simply be alone in Nature.

As with the first of the two books, there are no cheesy miracles, no preaching, no blatant Christian dogma presented, though this is a traditional view that the gospels are quite accurate. Though Anne Rice does not feel quite the same on the subject now, she has not abandoned these novels, any more than she totally rejected her other supernatural creations during her venture back in the arms of Mother Church. Recently she has expressed interest in the film version of Out of Egypt. When these books came out, I remember emailing Anne and telling her that I though they contained some of her finest writing. I still feel that way.

In retrospect, Yeshua is of course, another sort of supernatural, possibly immortal being. She brings him to life in a way I've never experienced before. And yet this always happens with her characters, whether with Louis and Claudia  and Lestat in the Vampire Chronicles, or Mona and Quinn in the Lives of the Mayfair Witches as they merged with the Vampires, or dashing young Reuben of the new Man Wolf series.

Anne always provides moments that raise every hair on my body--SPOILER ALERT, I SUPPOSE--and in this case it involves Yeshua's awareness that there are two kinds so prayer for him--a rote thing learned, and a direct connection when he feels one with his heavenly Father--and he makes a command. In this case, there has been a long drought in Israel and it has to do with a sudden storm, only it's about far more than bringing rainfall…

Got me, Anne, as you always do!

THis woman's writing continues to evolve. In many ways, for example Blood Canticle was the finest wine of all the Vampire and Witch books that intertwined in the last two volumes. An actively practicing artist often only improves with age, and this is certainly the case with Anne Rice. She keeps opening another treasure-chest of literary delight for her fans, time-after-time.

It may seem unlikely, however I'd still love to see the third Christ book, which I believe was referred to as The Kingdom of Heaven. You never know…

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