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Since Jesus Christ is not God (or so many of us believe...)


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Since Jesus Christ is not God, and since we don't know anything about his life entailed during his 20s, what do you think about the recent story by Sue Monk Kidd, The Book of Longings?

Here's what Amazon's page for selling the book says about it,

In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. She engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes narratives about neglected and silenced women. Ana is expected to marry an older widower, a prospect that horrifies her. An encounter with eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything.

Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, and their mother, Mary. Ana's pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to Rome's occupation of Israel, partially led by her brother, Judas. She is sustained by her fearless aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret. When Ana commits a brazen act that puts her in peril, she flees to Alexandria, where startling revelations and greater dangers unfold, and she finds refuge in unexpected surroundings. Ana determines her fate during a stunning convergence of events considered among the most impactful in human history.

Grounded in meticulous research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus's life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring, unforgettable account of one woman's bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place and culture devised to silence her. It is a triumph of storytelling both timely and timeless, from a masterful writer at the height of her powers.

Here's also a youtube discussion with the author,

 


I've got a copy of the Large Print edition from my local public library and have read the first 40-some pages of it so far. I find The Book of Longings fascinating.

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2 hours ago, Rocky said:

... since we don't know anything about his [Jesus's] life entailed during his 20s...

...

Grounded in meticulous research...

Hard to have "meticulous research" when we don't know anything...!

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1 hour ago, Twinky said:

Hard to have "meticulous research" when we don't know anything...!

Meticulous anthropological and cultural research .  To write a compelling novel about the subject, she would have to have deep and extensive background knowledge about the era and the cultural geography.

Frankly, I find the story quite compelling. Kidd isn't proselytizing for or against Christianity. But she did imagine Jesus's humanity in greater depth and detail probably than anyone else in our contemporary times.

Even if Jesus was/is both God and man, how much does anyone, even JW's or wayfers actually imagine his interaction with people except on the surface?

That, anyway, is why I find the book fascinating.

It's out there for people -- who might be interested -- to read.

The author treats Jesus and his family (sibs/parents) with reverence. 

I first became aware of the book when I saw a friend put it on a list of what she wanted to read. I made a mental note to look out for if/when she wrote a review in the event she actually read it.

She did, on goodreads.com, and gave it five stars. So I read some reviews and requested it from my local public library. I picked it up on Friday.  

Thanks, Twinky, for posing the question. :wave:

Edited by Rocky
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Thanks for mentioning The Book of Longings, Rocky – and I really enjoyed the YouTube interview with the author Sue Monk Kidd.  She said so many interesting things about her research, experiences, silenced women – and especially the Black Madonna and imagination that I’ll have to read the book sometime. I know some folks can get offended by the artistic license and imagination of others. Personally, I think imagination is an important and even necessary part of developing my faith. That’s not to say I buy into everything that is presented through the arts – but it often helps me flesh out an existing idea, sometimes form new ideas or just rethink an existing concept…I am an unabashed Trinitarian but I find that I spend a lot more think-time on relating to Jesus Christ as a human being than trying to figure out how to combine the human with the divine…another shade of John 14:6 “No one comes to the Father except through me” ? I don’t know…anyway, Kidd’s The Book of Longings is on my reading list.

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11 hours ago, Rocky said:

Meticulous anthropological and cultural research .  To write a compelling novel about the subject, she would have to have deep and extensive background knowledge about the era and the cultural geography.

Yes, Rocky, I thought that's probably what you meant, really.

A good historical novel can in fact convey so much, and much more easily than a textbook.  The principal character(s) can be set in various situations, and present different views of what's going on and how it affects the general populace.  In particular right now, I'm thinking of Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and others in that series - it discusses cathedral building, different styles, what works and what doesn't, all from the mediaeval perspective of a journeyman builder who goes on to become a master builder; his relationships, powerplays of the rich and famous, the wars of the times, and such like.

So yes.  If your author fleshes out what was going on in Jesus's times, with the international and national conflicts, different expectations, etc, it should be a really good read.

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I didn't get offended at the scene with Jesus in "History of the World Part I",  so I'm ok with this.  I hardly equate either with a credible position, but neither has to be.  Something funny or interesting can be good because it is funny or interesting, not because it's historically accurate. 

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3 hours ago, waysider said:

Might not be your cup of tea but I kinda like John Prine's take on it.

 

 

Actually I prefer coffee over tea – and believe it or not Prine’s Jesus, The Missing Years is my cup of Joe – my wife turned me on to Prine – she has 7 of his albums one of which is The Missing Years which has that track on it.

Expanding on what I said in previous post – how one interprets and/or connects with something presented in the arts is different for everyone. The song Jesus, The Missing Years actually conjures up a funny mix of early unique memories along with how I think of Jesus and my own personal journey.

One of those memories is of my pot-smoking daze in Catholic high school. Around that time a cover of Jesus Is Just Alright by the Byrds and by The Doobie Brothers were popular – and I loved them both! One day while browsing through a local head shop I found a button that had a little image of Jesus with the words around it “take a trip with Jesus Christ” – I thought it was cool so I bought it. One day I kind of made that button come true. I was having a bad acid trip and the only thing I could think of doing was asking out loud for Jesus Christ to help me. I began to mellow out pretty quick. A miracle? I don’t know – I like to think that it was – but it definitely set me on the road of wanting to know him better…

…getting back to Prine’s song it resonates with me in a variety of ways. I may be way off on all of this  – but for me the song is not so much about the biblical Jesus – given the contemporary setting - it could also refer to a young Christian starting out on a path to find out what it’s all about. It represents a deeply spiritual and emotional trek –  a long and arduous journey of thoughts, feelings and experiences - something that maybe others can relate to also:  Questioning one’s own existence and identity. What is life all about? Is there such a thing as destiny? The loss of innocence. The disappointment and disillusionment from the commercialism of religion and the treachery of a cult like TWI. The growing pains of a worldview in a self-imposed state of flux…well, enough of my buzzkill ramblings – and back to my cup of Joe with some Vodka.

Edited by T-Bone
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2 hours ago, WordWolf said:

I didn't get offended at the scene with Jesus in "History of the World Part I",  so I'm ok with this.  I hardly equate either with a credible position, but neither has to be.  Something funny or interesting can be good because it is funny or interesting, not because it's historically accurate. 

Though there is some humor in Ms. Kidd's book, that's not the thrust. It's really about the protagonist, Ana, a young woman wanting to find her voice in the world at that time.

 

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6 hours ago, Rocky said:

Though there is some humor in Ms. Kidd's book, that's not the thrust. It's really about the protagonist, Ana, a young woman wanting to find her voice in the world at that time.

 

I mentioned a comedy and that book, and I commented about something that could be funny (the comedy)  or interesting (that book, by exclusion.)

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1 hour ago, WordWolf said:

I mentioned a comedy and that book, and I commented about something that could be funny (the comedy)  or interesting (that book, by exclusion.)

Sorry if I misunderstood and/or offended you.

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A brief excerpt from the Book of Longings. Ana, now the wife of Jesus, speaking with her friend Tabitha, who had earlier in the book been raped. Because of the culture at the time, it was not acceptable for a woman to respond as Tabitha did. She was roughly 15 years old at the time and after the rape she was angry and shouted in the streets naming her rapist. Tabitha's father cut her tongue out and sold her into slavery. It was the only disturbing episode in the book up to this point (I'm 42 percent of the way through it). Ana and Jesus found her near death on the road to Jerusalem for the Passover. She had run away from abusive slave owners. Ana and Jesus rescued her and took her to Jesus' friends house (Mary, Martha and Lazarus) where Tabitha was nursed back to health and given safety. When Ana and Jesus left to return to Nazareth, Ana said the following to Tabitha.


"Years ago, after that day I came to your house, I wrote down your story on papyrus. I wrote about your ferocious spirit, how you stood in the street and cried out what happened to you and were silenced for it. I think every pain in this world wants to be witnessed, Tabitha. That's why you shouted about your rape on the street and it's why I wrote it down."

She stared at me unblinking, then pulled me to her and clung there.

That is what GSC does for people, though cultures now are not the same as during that era.

Edited by Rocky
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I got the impression from something T-Bone said on another thread a few days ago that he may have taken this as that I gave a reading assignment.

Well, I don't have a teaching degree. I don't give grades or course credit... and hardly consider myself qualified to teach anything related to literature. But I love stories. I hope that when I share my impressions of a book, it might stir some curiosity about the book in those who read the comment. That's as far as it goes.

Btw, I'm 90 percent through The Book of Longings. I expect to finish it later today. 

I'll probably post a review on goodreads and amazon.

When I do, I'll share it here too... just in case anyone might be interested.

Btw, is this the Sunday twi celebrates an anniversary? I forget.

 

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Posted (edited)

I did finish The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd shortly ago.

Here's a review I saw on Goodreads. I thought Glennon Doyle's thoughts were particularly poignant.

Why I love it
by Glennon Doyle, Author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Untamed

Sue Monk Kidd, the brilliant, beloved storyteller who gifted us with The Secret Life of Bees, has done it again. Her most recent treasure, The Book of Longings, is the first book that has literally taken my breath away. As I read, I had to close it and breathe deeply, again and again.

Both a radical reimagining of the New Testament, and an homage to all untamed, trespassing women, The Book of Longings is right on time for this moment. The book tells the story of Ana—a brave and ambitious woman who rails against her repressive society, fighting to express herself and realize her full potential. As the daughter of a wealthy politician, Ana is expected to marry a man chosen for her, and not the penniless carpenter named Jesus she meets in a chance encounter. What follows is a stunning and universal portrayal of women’s longing, silencing, and awakening.

I read The Book of Longings right after my own book Untamed made its way into the world, and found Ana of Sue Monk Kidd's masterpiece to be a breathtakingly untamed woman. I will carry The Book of Longings in my heart forever, because it reflects what was always there. I invite every trespassing woman to find her own journey in Ana's story—and to finish this novel mesmerized, encouraged, and emboldened.

-- 30 --

As far as what Kidd does with Jesus, even though he's only a secondary protagonist here, he comes to life in ways that simply reading the Gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (as well as the Acts of the Apostles) alone cannot do for readers. No matter how immersed in religious traditions the reader may have been as a child. I attended Catholic grade schools for six years. 

To accomplish this, Kidd doesn't re-write the Gospels, she imagines and explores the undocumented years between ages 12/13 and 30. What would he have been doing according to the culture of the day? True or not, as only stories can, for the reader Jesus becomes more real in her/his mind.

I cried throughout the last 30-40 pages.

 

Edited by Rocky
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