The Last Words of Jesus by Daniel P. Horan: A Review

The Last Words of Jesus by Daniel P. Horan

 

As my wife, Dianne was facing her illness and impending death, she made a point of studying several reflections on suffering, death, and dying.  One of the books she began, but was unable to finish was The Last Words of Jesus, A Meditation on Love and Suffering by the Franciscan friar Daniel P. Horan.  Though she didn’t complete the reading, I have made it a point to read it.

Father Horan’s reflections on the seven phrases of Jesus from the cross are thought-provoking and an excellent study. The Franciscan flavour is clear, but it is in Horan’s focus on the area of social action in Jesus’ words makes for some interesting insights.  In fact, this focus is a challenge each of us will need to examine for ourselves.

Horan’s work has several quotes from thinkers and theologians that focus the study, and the prayers at the end of each section helps bring the reader into such a self-examination, not just on the social aspects but on the words of Jesus as a whole.  While the seven phrases from the cross have a very Lenten feel, Horan’s closing of the work with a call to compare Jesus’ first gospel quotes to those of the Passion is powerful.  In so doing it Horan gives a fresh prism to look at the “last words” through. These include Jesus’ use of the term “Father” for God in Luke’s account reminds us of relationship. Horan also notes that Jesus when in the desert (among the first words) uses scripture as retorts to the devil’s temptations, this sufficiency of the Bible is seen on the cross as well. This is seen in the quoting of Psalm 22 and the statement “I thirst” that the scriptures might be fulfilled.

The section on the words “I thirst,” was especially challenging.  In it, he notes a story of an American friar being asked by a woman in South America is it is true that people use fresh water to flush their toilets in the USA.  The idea was inconceivable to a person living in the poverty and sparse infrastructure in which she did.  The priest could not bring himself to admit the wasteful truth of the Western world’s practices.  Practices to which most of us don’t even give a second thought.

I very much Like Horan’s work, and even as a “low church Protestant” find much to consider from its pages.

Padre

Christian Fantasy Genre and A Review

 

The genre of Christian Fantasy is a sub-genre of the fantastical form.  These by definition are works “written by and/or for Christians.”   The plots, and events of these works are not always overtly “religious” in their content or feel, but generally reflect a Christian world-view and the associated values.   Some of the works are clear re-tellings of biblical tales, or of events of Christian experience.

Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is an example of the latter form, in which the central character, Christian, makes an epic journey to reach the Celestial City.  Along the way he encounters Giants and trial.  The allegory is clear throughout.

The allegorical content, however, does not always make itself obvious within the genre.  C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a good exampleGenerations of readers have followed the adventures of Lucy and her siblings in the Land of Narnia, without necessarily seeing that Aslan’s defeat of the witch (the embodiment of evil) as a portrayal of Christ’s victory through sacrifice.  Spoiler alert!  Edmund has sinned and sold out his siblings for his own gain.  Because of this his life in forfeit.  When the witch comes to collect her prize (his life), Aslan gives his own life for the lost.  His death (including mocking by the crowd, stripping of his “clothing” (mane), and execution) parallel the events of Calvary.  As does his resurrection!

Some Christian Fantasy merely takes aspects of the Christian faith and teachings and weaves it into the fantasy.   In my own work, The Sisters Tales the character Breena has a prophetic gift, and in many instances shares spiritual values to her colleagues.  She also manifests her gift in a way reminiscent to that of  Saint Joan of Arc.

I have recently read Christian Fantasy author, Allison D. Reid’s,  Journey to Aviad (Wind Rider Chronicles Book 1).  This  work is well written and is engaging.  Reid  draws the fantasy genre together with allegory and Trinitarian theology in a subtle way, and it makes for some wonderful imagery as well as helping her develop her world-building.  I particularly like that her main character enters into the greater events around her by chance and circumstance.  This plays out in her undertaking an uncertain journey which is a wonderful metaphor for life and the question of purpose.   I  truly enjoyed Journey to Aviad and I have already begun to read more of Reid’s work.

As a genre Christian Fantasy has a lot to offer.  It provides some quality speculative fiction in which wholesome values are applauded, and in which gratuitous erotica is all but absent.  Christians (and other people of faith) will find familiar and enriching themes, while still enjoying the action and adventure of the larger Fantasy genre.

Try giving a few “a read.”

Padre

Links to works mentioned:

Journey to Aviad

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Pilgrim’s Progress

The Sisters Tales