Joyful Noise: The New Testament Revisitedby Rick Moody
Like many of their contemporaries, novelists Rick Moody and Darcey Steinke attended Sunday school as kids but drifted away from religion as adolescents. Now, as adults, they are grappling anew with the teachings of the Bible. Rejecting the hard-edged dogmas of many mainline denominations, they have reread the New Testament, reviewed their own life experiences
Like many of their contemporaries, novelists Rick Moody and Darcey Steinke attended Sunday school as kids but drifted away from religion as adolescents. Now, as adults, they are grappling anew with the teachings of the Bible. Rejecting the hard-edged dogmas of many mainline denominations, they have reread the New Testament, reviewed their own life experiences and come up with their own personal interpretations of Christian tenets.
Moody and Steinke's renewed interest in Christianity struck a chord with other notable writers and the result is this extraordinary collection of original essays. Gathering together some of the freshest and most thought-provoking voices in contemporary literature including Madison Smartt Bell, Benjamin Cheever, Lydia Davis, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lucy Grealey, bell hooks, Ann Padgett, Joanna Scott, and Kim Wozencraft joyful Noise offers a fascinating range of probing and very personal interpretations of what Christianity means today. Whether it's Kathy Bowman's poetic riffs on the significance of "Jesus's Feet" or Barry Hannah's guilt-tinged recollections of a neighborhood outcast who went on to find fulfillment as a hippie minister, these remarkable and wonderfully eclectic meditations are sure to find an eager audience among boomers and twentysomethings looking to renew their faith.
These baby boomer writers have mostly "revisited" only a fraction of the New Testament, the Gospels, which novelist Moody (Purple America, p. 164, etc.) sees as "great liberal documents in strong support of ethical universals." In rescuing the New Testament from the Christian Right, though, these writers don't realize that by almost exclusively using the Gospels, they've ceded some of the richest territory to the fundamentalists. That's why Joanna Scott's marvelous essay on Revelation is nothing short of a revelation (her discussion of symbols as "masks" in the text is truly stunning), and why Ann Powers's contribution, "Teenage Jesus," falls flat. In her zeal to make Jesus culturally relevant to bohemian boomers, Powers utterly trivializes his message and mission. Portrayals of Jesus as a rebel with a good cause, or a misunderstood ethical teacher, are beyond prosaic. Several of the writers mention that their views of Jesus were heavily influenced by the rock-opera movie Jesus Christ Superstar, which helps explain this book's unidimensionality. Why not try new turf and explore the irascible Paul? Aside from one obligatory essay on 1 Corinthians 13 (de rigueur at American weddings), Paul is completely ignored. Standout essays include bell hooks's creative offering on the transformative power of love; Benjamin Cheever's offhanded appeal to "judge not," and Jeffrey Eugenides's witty portrayal of the Holy Ghost in Acts: "Jesus gets all the attention, all the reviews," Eugenides wryly observes.
The editors of this anthology should have heeded his remark. In its narrow purview, this New Testament revisited is considerably less juicy than the original.
- Hachette Book Group
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- 1 ED
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- 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.59(d)
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