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!