Look at how daring we are in Holy Week!

Earlier today I noted that we’d seen a remarkable lack of the usual media attempts to be provocative, and foment doubt, in Holy Week, and I’d credited that to the distraction Rome’s own drama these past two months:

These are usually the weeks reserved for questions about whether or not Jesus existed at all; if he had a wife and so forth. This year, thanks to Benedict’s surprising resignation, the conclave and Pope Francis’ rock-star ascendancy, the press has had its hands full; there has been no opportunity to push back forcefully against the Rome-based images of drama, gasp-inspiring beauty, palpable joy and — dare I say it — rock-like continuance, that have been rolling out before our eyes these past weeks while the whole secular world is being roiled…

Ah, well, we haven’t quite escaped it. Tonight on Broadway — bearing the legend, “the truth should be spoken at least once in the world!” — opens, (ta-da!) The Testament of Mary, and don’t these blarney-tinged folks involved with it seem impressed with themselves in that video?

Well, I guess it’s impressive to be speaking the truth, for once, in the world.

Poor Bono, remember when he was castigated for suggesting that all he had was “a red guitar, three chords, and the truth?” Ah me, ah, my Irish tribe! What is truth, after all?

For that matter, what is The Testament of Mary? Well, it’s a novella, one of those daring ones! Here is how Mark Shea describes it:

It’s a book that fills a profound void—in the twice-annual need of God-haters in corporate publishing to find some sort of media phenomenon that will insult and blaspheme Christianity for Easter and Christmas…[author Colm] Tóibín’s Mary lives alone in Ephesus, relying on these disciples for her daily bread, marinated in judgmental bitterness, and filled with sullen contempt for everything. This Mary has no belief in her son’s divinity, natch. He is described as something of a charismatic kook, propelled along to his doom by his “misfit” disciples, whom Mary can’t stand. They are a pack of losers in need of a guru who would, today, be living in their moms’ basements, viewing porn on the Internet while scowling at women they pass on the street and muttering, “Slut!” Mary is stuck with them—they are her “guardians,” since she has nothing. She is kept under a sort of cultic, Scientology-esque house arrest while devotees, who inexplicably regard her as a figure of reverence instead of the sullen old crone she is, come to feed her and babble their Moonie encomiums of devotion. Meanwhile, Mary can’t bring herself to say Jesus’ name. At one point we have an exchange in which some dumbbell disciples show up and are told they can’t sit in a chair she deliberately leaves empty for her son (recalling the Jewish tradition of the empty chair for Elijah at Passover). They, of course, resolutely declare that Jesus will return. She bitterly and stubbornly declares he will not, and the interview concludes with Mary pulling a knife on them and threatening to come in the night and murder them as they sleep…The only respite she has from her unrelieved contempt for all things Christian is her pagan neighbor Farina, with whom she goes to worship Artemis, the goddess of the hunt who is “radiating abidance and bounty, fertility and grace,” there in the great temple of Ephesus.

Cute. Hail Artemis, full of grace. Get it?

So, there you have it. If you need to be “edgy” this Holy Week, go to Broadway, and watch everyone congratulate themselves for being too smart to fall for silly myths and narrative constructs:

Tóibín would not receive the same praise had he written so bitter a satire about Michelle Obama, grumbling bitterly about her husband and his agents, or some early feminist heroine, being kept away from the public by women corrupting her message for their own feminist ends. Not that he would. He and his world have their own Madonnas. — David Mills

Heh. And then there is Truth.

Personally, I would never mess with Mary. As Pat Gohn notes, God thinks very well of her!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • doughboy

    it’s called blasphemy and seems to be always in vogue. i got about half way down your paragraph and had to just skim the rest, eyes glazed in disappointment and (unfortunately) non-shock. i made my deMontfort re-consecration last night and this just makes me sad.

  • marye

    What I would love is to see it panned–completely and thoroughly–by the critics. But what is the likelihood of that?

  • Victor

    (((Well, I guess it’s impressive to be speaking the truth, for once, in the world.)))

    That is crazy Victor and for the reacord we gods never ordained YA in a nanosecond NOW!

    Don’t YA mean for the record sinner vic?

    There YA go correcting U>S again Victor! “I” don’t know why these humans still have not yet gotten UP SET with http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/03/25/michele-bachmann-rick-warren-telling-lies-for-jesus-that-hurt-poor-women/ YA cause this is crazy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt5LzrJZ34Q NOW.

    Don’t be silly sinner vic! YA know as well as The Trinity of “ME”, “ME” and “Me” that you don’t really exist NOW! Our flesh cells of Me, myself and i simply created YA cause for no good reason society kept putting U>S (usual sinners) in a mental hospital just because some of our brain cells couldn’t sleep at night butt after our fourth visit, our flesh just said Enough is Enough and then we created YA and by the Way sinner vic, you should warn The Anchoress and her readers that if they read some of the stuff that we’ve written at “Slactivist”, they should use a grain a salt with “IT” if YA know what “I” mean NOW!

    Come on Victor! John Carter, I mean Joe Carter was right when he told YA in so many words that humanity should be protected from your turd, I mean your third person and by the way the smell seems to be getting worst around http://ncronline.org/node/48261 so someone should be making a call to your GOD http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK3zs7EV6Tk NOW!
    Our Jesus and our soul don’t care what you say sinner vic cause my wife and “i” raised five daughters and “IT” only cost “ME”, “ME” and me four so called nervous breakdown.

    Victor! Victor! Victor! Your loving mother was right when she said with a smile that you had an answer for just about everything butt truth be known, you’re just a

    OK sinner vic, I’ll just ignore that cause “IT” is simply coming from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKeD1PbPGOA NOW!

    Go Figure! :)


  • Ann

    I should have known. Mary Gordon wrote something in the NYT saying the same thing a couple of months or so. Pope Francis is such an antidote to all this, though. His love abides in him. I don’t know why I get so angry still at this kind of thing. I look forward to learning from our Papa.

  • Adam

    Meh. Blasphemy is passing; beauty and truth are eternal. If this world endures another 2000 years, the church will endure with her. And what form of art will crowds still be admiring in that 2000 year span–an “edgy” play about the Virgin, or Michaelanego’s statue of her weeping for her dead son? My money’s on the latter.

    In the meantime, I’d suggest reading Michael O’Brien’s “A Cry of Stone.” It deals heavily with the subject of religion in the art world. It tackles topics similar to this one. I promise, it’ll lift you up and tear you apart all at the same time.

  • Victor

    Hang in there Anchoress and by the way keep praying to GOD (Good Old Dad) and His Mother for me also while remembering that somethings never change.



  • benning

    The problem with blasphemy – as with heresy – is that it attracts the folks who are most in need of the Gospels, and Truth. As a Protestant I have no iron in a Marian fire, if you will. But I truly loathe the idjits that think they are doing something new, novel, edgy, profound, when all they’re really doing is throwing a tantrum, and a very old one at that, at GOD. The lack of respect for our Scriptural heroes and heroines is sad.

    Still waiting for these braves souls to do something similar with the Muslim folks. Not holding my breath, though. ;)

  • Mike Melendez

    When done in interpersonal relationships, such stories are called psychological projection. When put on stage, they are called “daring” and “truth”. Sic transit…

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    It’s reached a point that there’s an indsustry and a market for anti Christian pamphleteering. And I include all art forms within “pamphleteering,” novels, drama, music, fine arts, and just plain old fashion bombastic polemicism. We don’t fight back hard enough and they get away with it.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The thing that scares me is that the decadent and anti-Christian hate and lies that now infects American culture is very similar to pre-Nazi decadent culture in Germany and pre Soviet decadent culture in Russia. And in each case it, in time, eventually led to the wholesale slaughter of Christians. And it was the creators and promoters of these decadent cultures who frequently led the blood-thirsty purges and pogroms against believers.

  • Bill M.

    I read The Testament of Mary for my book club. It’s a thin volume that manages to be overlong, if you know what I mean.

  • LadyBird

    I no longer get sad or angry. These people are so predictable and boring. The good thing about this bi-annual ritual is that it reminds us Catholics how important good and solid Catechesis is for every age. The best response is for each of us to volunteer in parish ministries to strengthen ourselves and others so the light may shine on the darkness. One suggestion might be for every parish to present Fr. Barron’s “Catholicism” for everyone. Ask your pastor to buy it for your parish and volunteer to run the series for the parish community. This could be a great response to the garbage that’s being thrown our way.