|Post-modern equivalent of|
shocking one's parents
An admiring review in the New York Times notes that "none of the negatives that have made Christianity a byword for tyranny, cruelty and licensed hatred have attached to [Mary]." More of a byword than communism? That bywords are no more reliable than anyother slogan or "meme" seems not to occur to the reviewer. She writes that "In my youth, stores sold items called 'Mary-like gowns,' which meant you could go to your senior prom looking as undesirable as possible in the name of the Virgin." She regards this as a negative. Apparently, the objective is to go to your senior prom looking as desirable as possible in the name of horny boys. To be a sex object, as it were. Here comes Honey Boo-boo.
|cf. for independent women|
The reviewer's praise for the potrayal of the Evangelists "as menacing intruders, with the lurking shadowy presence of Stalin’s secret police" shows an appalling ignorance of the nature of Stalin's secret police -- and of the hostility shown by the Church that Celebrates Mary toward the entire Stalinist enterprise.
A second review, in the Washington Post, tells us: “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!” It is some odd coincidence that this sort of thing is always marketed at such times of the year. But the Post is somewhat more sane than the Times, and its reviewer also notes that Tóibín's Mary
"rarely sounds like a poor 1st-century woman in the Roman Empire. She speaks in the lovely, super-literary phrases of a feminist who confidently rejects faith in Yahweh (or her son) in favor of a very hip paganism that the modern literati can sanction."
In other words, it's less a matter of questioning beliefs than of affirming them. The beliefs of others are for questioning; one's own beliefs are not.
|Pieta at Our Lady of Mercy, Easton PA|
Sentimental terrain rejected by Mr. Tóibín.
Wearing blue-and-white dress so as to not hook up at prom.
However, it is only gratuitous assaults on non-Christian religious symbols that are to be refrained from. The Post reviewer was relieved that the book "hasn’t sparked outrage or boycotts — a reassuring testament to the West’s tolerance for such ... creative re-imaginings of sacred figures," and added 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." Apparently he labors under the belief that Evangelicals are a hotbed of Marian devotion.
But what it boils down to is the knowledge that, by and large, Christians don't riot, burn down embassies, and so on. As Rufinus of Aquileia once wrote, "Our side [Christians], though superior by far in numbers, was less fierce because of the self-restraint of our religion." This does not preclude hotheads, but it is still much safer to trash Christians than muslims.
The irony here is that the muslims cherish Mary, possibly more so than Evangelicals.