Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reviewing Testament of Mary

I mentioned being interested in reading The Testament of Mary in the orevious entry. After downloading it and reading the novella, I composed a quick review in America Magazine today (look down to comment # 34)

I wasn't all that impressed:

What I was looking for in Testament was an emphasis on the humanity of Mary, the anger she must have felt at the death of Jesus, the annoyance and exasperation she may have felt toward the fawning disciples trying to understand what being His mother must have been like, lingering doubts of the enormity of who her Son was and what He was in her post- Ascension years; aspects of Mary that could possibly bring me closer to her in prayer.

What I found in Testament was a contemptuous, nasty woman bearing the name of Mary, who ran at the crucifixion of Jesus (whose name is never once mentioned in the novella), who never believed in the mission of her Son while He was alive, and who dies believing the world was never worth redeeming. Jesus is pictured as a blowhard whose fame and self-importance get the better of Him. John (who is also never mentioned by name, referred only to as the 'guardian') is imagined as one who contorts and manipulates every word that comes out of Mary's mouth to invent his Gospel and writings. A dream Mary relates to her cousin after the crucifixion; that they and John stayed with Jesus until he died, and that Jesus rose zombie-like from the dead is what John turns into the Easter story. In other words, not only doesn't Mary believe the Resurrection ever happened, Testament's Mary KNOWS it was a figment of her imagination.

AND it what seemed like a cheap stunt (or the cheapest stunt, given the context) is that Mary and her neighbor Farina no longer attend synagogue, but now worship Artemis at a pagan Temple (the author was careful to capitalize it). I would think modern Pagans would think this a cheap stunt as well.

What struck me more than anything was that Testament's Mary is a complete stranger to me. Even when recounting the death of her Son, there is no sense of sorrow, no sense of love, no sense of motherhood. I saw no one I could relate to, and no one to whom I would WANT to relate, were I able to. There was no Love represented, either from Mary, the disciples, or her un-named Son in Testament. I am grateful it was as short as it was, or I'd have had to put it down. I was looking, straining to find some kind of faith, something that approached redemption. Nowhere to be found, unfortunately.

Perhaps it was an interesting idea...but I was disappointed.

Feast of St. Nicholas of Myra
Daily Mass Readngs
Isaiah 26:1-6
Psalm 118:1,8-9,19-21,25-27
Matthew 7:21,24-27

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Testament of Mary

I was reading through America magazine and happened upon this review of Colm Toibin's new book.…

Titled The Testament of Mary, it is an imagining of Mother Mary's life following the Ascension until her death/Dormition. From the comments on the review I've read so far (a comment of mine is in there somewhere), it seems like it is stirring up some controversy much in the same way The Last Temptation of Christ did; the former by imagining the thoughts of Mary, the latter by daring to imagine the thoughts of an all-too human Christ on the cross. In Testament, Mary is apparently depicted as sad, bitter, and annoyed with her Son's disciples.

Honestly, I've not given too much thought (in prayer or otherwise) to the life of Mary after the Ascension. Was she instrumental in the formation the infant Church? Did she miss her Son? The horrible wounds on her heart from her Son's execution; were they healed by the Resurrection or did they still burn in His earthly absence? Did she fully understand her role in salvation history?

I think I'm going to give this book a read.

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier
Daily Mass Readings
Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122:1-9
Matthew 8:5-11