Thursday, 6 December 2012

Interesting Interview with Colm Tóibín

The Lamentations of Mary Magdalene on the Body of
Christ by Arnold Böcklin.  Okay, wrong Mary, but it gets
the point across.
There is an interesting and rather delightful interview - A New Testament Told From Mary's Point Of View - on NPR FRESH AIR with author-poet Colm Tóibín.  The talk starts out about his latest book, The Testament of Mary, where he puts himself into the character of a bitter and angry Mary twenty years after her son's crucifixion.

He also covers his childhood, experiences with his mother, the Roman Catholic Church as a child and a young man, his loss of religious faith and his coming out of the closet as an openly gay man in Ireland.

A read excerpt from The Testament of Mary.  Mary is recalling her reaction to the disciples.
Something about the earnestness of those young men repelled me, sent me into the kitchen or the garden. Something of their awkward hunger or the sense that there was something missing in each one of them made me want to serve the food or water or whatever and then disappear before I'd heard a single word of what they were talking about.
Tóibín responds to charges that the book is blasphemous because of its portrayal of an angry and potentially unbelieving Mary:
... I'm a citizen of the European Union in which such freedoms are allowed and absolutely accepted by everybody. So that I don't really see any difficulty there.
And he also confirmed what we've been hearing from Michael Nugent in interviews such as this one on Ask an Atheist.  Ireland is rapidly becoming a secular society, throwing off the bonds of the Church.
I suppose what surprised me about Ireland, the response in Ireland, has been the ease and the mildness of the response. That there has not been any difficulty.
In the interview he shares his own personal story as a boy in very Catholic Ireland and how he lost faith in religion and was able to come out of the closet and become openly gay in 1970s Ireland.

When asked how he filled the void left by no longer believing in religion, he responded, in part:
I suppose I did in that I was really terribly interested in poetry. You know, I would have been by that time have found somebody like Wallace Stevens to be terribly important for me and indeed, the portrait of W.B. Yeats, and other American poets like Robert Lowell, so that I was reading poetry very seriously, and I was reading fiction almost for its poetry. And so yes, I suppose a life, I mean very intense reading of books and poems and also the discovery of classical music, and all of that simply fill the gap and so that I didn't feel a void. The void was filled so deeply and seriously by painting, and to some extent, but not as much as by literature and by music.
If you'd like to fill a void, why not go listen to this fascinating interview.  I promise you'll feel more cultured afterwards.  After all, it's NPR.

A New Testament Told From Mary's Point Of View

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