Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Final Testament of the Holy Bible by James Frey

I'm embarrassed to admit that I am influenced by the media. The reason I watch neither Sean Hannity nor Rachel Maddow is not that I don't believe they are both gifted, charismatic individuals, but that I realize how easily I could be sucked into their respective and polarizing agendas.

I am one of millions of people who, a half dozen years or so ago, was captivated by James Frey's book A Million Little Pieces. And I am one of millions who was angered and disappointed when The Smoking Gun website followed by Oprah exposed him as "a liar and a fraud". Oprah was particularly incensed because she had both interviewed him and endorsed his book on her television show. She was merciless with him afterwards. Along with many others, I tossed James Frey into the rubbish bin never to think of him again.

Until last week that is, when I listened to an extensive recent interview between Oprah and Frey. She was apologetic, seeking his forgiveness (well, not in so many words) for her role in the hell he went through. She acknowledged that she had judged him. He explained he had written his book, which was loosely based upon his own life experiences, as a novel and only changed it to a "memoir" when publishers told him it was the only way they would publish it. He noted that he saw himself as an artist as much as an author. Just as Pablo Picasso painted "self-portraits" that in no way resembled himself except in his own imagination, James had written his book as a self-portrait only loosely connected to documented times and events. But unlike Picasso, James was exposed to a scrutiny of his life by the American media and public that could have destroyed a lesser man. One of the most poignant moments of the interview was when he described a painting in his house called Public Stoning. Every time he looked at the painting, said James, it reminded him of what he had gone through and exhorted him never to go through that again.

He then described a book he had just written, a reinterpretation of the life of Jesus called The Final Testament of the Holy Bible. I'm reading and enjoying it. If reading about a bisexual, alcoholic Jesus who lives in the slums of New York City and impregnates a young Puerto Rican stripper is too much for your theological tastebuds, I wouldn't recommend it. But if you are open to new insights from a young, gifted author, this might be your kind of book. I'm reminded of a pastor friend who once told me he never formed his theology from the movies he watched. The same should hold true of books as well.

4 comments:

aemish said...

Wait a cotton pickin'... are you saying that Oprah is in the book-selling business? No! :p

filthykafir said...

I'm not as ready as you to let bygones be bygones re Mr. Frey. He engaged in a fraud, and I've not noted him ever to have plainly and cleanly acknowledged that. His apologies, at the time at least, were carefully hedged with a brambly thicket of excuses -- "I'm an artist," etc.

While I like -- and have liberally availed myself of -- the graceful gift of redemption, I remember that, while God is eager to forgive, that comes AFTER my clear and unconditional repentance, which includes plain, sincere confession from me.

aemish said...

Hey, whateverurnameiz, I like you. :D

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