By Brent Bozell
(Townhall.com) A Christian can be crushed gazing at the picture of Mary standing at the
foot of the cross, watching her beloved son suffocate and die. But in
that vision, she stands there for hours, patiently enduring her
For two millennia, she has been a role model for Christians, a
woman who practiced obedience in the most difficult of human
circumstances, with fervent hope for what this sacrifice will offer all
mankind as it struggles with sin.
This is why it seems so
hard to reflect that vision of patience when black-hearted "artists"
practice character assassination on the Blessed Virgin Mary to strip her
of every virtue: her patience, her obedience, her courageous love and
her prayerful faith in God. On Nov. 13, Simon and Schuster launched a
vicious little 96-page novella titled "The Testament of Mary."
The author, an Irish ex-Catholic named Colm Toibin, presents us
instead with a Bible-burning "reimagination" of an alienated Mary who
fled the scene of her son's death in fear for her own life. Two decades
after the Resurrection -- or was there one? -- this anti-Mary is filled
with bitterness and rage. She describes herself as "unhinged" and
bubbling with contempt for her son's demented followers, to the extreme
that she threatens the Gospel writers with a knife. She lives as a
bandit, stealing to survive.
Her son's followers must be
stopped from making Jesus a god, "or else everything that happened will
become a sweet story that will grow poisonous as bright berries that
hang low on trees." Toibin describes the scene of the crucifixion in
mercenary terms: "It was like a marketplace, but more intense somehow,
the act that was about to take place was going to make a profit for both
seller and buyer."
Christ's disciples are "fools,
twitchers, malcontents, stammerers," while her son's preaching sounded
to her "false, and his tone all stilted, and I could not bear to hear
him, it was like something grinding and it set my teeth on edge."
There is no God in her father or her son. She proclaims of the
death of Jesus only: "when you say that he redeemed the world, I will
say that it was not worth it. It was not worth it."
last book of literary criticism was titled "New Ways to Kill Your
Mother." In this book, he murders the mother of God.
positive critique in The New York Times, reviewer Mary Gordon explained
"The making of the Gospels is portrayed not as an act of sacred
remembrance but as an invasion and a theft. The Evangelists -- which are
they? Luke, perhaps, or John? -- are portrayed as menacing intruders,
with the lurking shadowy presence of Stalin's secret police."
In our nation's most prestigious newspaper, an author and his
feminist reviewer can conjure up the apostles of Christ as Stalinist
torturers. But when a Danish newspaper published cartoons mocking the
prophet Muhammad as a freedom-of-speech test in 2005, the Times would
not show them as "a reasonable choice for news organizations that
usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols."
This is what Toibin's book is: a gratuitous assault on Christianity
and its central drama of salvation. The Times reviewer recognized that
and enjoyed it.
"Mary, the mother of Jesus, has given
Christianity a good name. None of the negatives that have made
Christianity a byword for tyranny, cruelty and licensed hatred have
attached to her," Gordon began. "The problem with all this is that it
has led to centuries of sentimentality -- blue and white Madonnas with
folded hands and upturned eyes, a stick with which to beat independent
Washington Post book reviewer Ron Charles was less
laudatory: "If you'd enjoy a tale predicated on the idea that Christian
faith is a toxic collection of 'foolish anecdotes' based on a 'fierce
catastrophe,' Merry Christmas!"
Charles found it refreshing
this garbage bag of words "hasn't sparked outrage or boycotts -- a
reassuring testament to the West's tolerance for such artistic license
and Toibin's prominence. Some of us are a lot calmer nowadays about
creative re-imaginings of sacred figures."
He somehow left
Catholics out of the picture as he expressed relief that "Evangelicals
in this country may finally have caught on to the fact that fiery
condemnation plays right into the marketing plans of books that would
otherwise ascend into oblivion." He notes Toibin's tome has been "widely
praised in England, but Toibin is a larger presence there, and
Somehow, he's not making the obvious
connection: Toibin and other God-hating authors are consciously
conspiring to empty out the churches, and Christian believers cannot
always refuse to condemn them. Speaking up for Christ and his mother
(and ours) is a solemn duty, not an option.