Meanwhile, back in the world of celebrity religion, it seems that Mistress of the Dead Anne Rice has, through many genuine tribulations, returned to her Roman Catholic roots and is now publishing the first of three novelizations of the life of Jesus.
Newsweek is reporting that the first is a first-person narration from the POV of the seven-year-old Jesus (born in 11 BC, an early though not altogether impossible date). Among other things, Jesus will study with Philo of Alexandria and report internal experiences confirming his divine status.
SWNID says this is swell. Not because there will be any significant religious or historical value to what Rice does, but because it will keep Jesus on the media's front burner. We area all for confrontations between lazy secularists and that second-temple Jewish prophet who was crucified and by all accounts rose from the tomb. This book will reopen the discussion in coffee houses, break rooms and dormitories all over the global village.
And Rice's book is almost certainly good news compared to the most recent Jesus media extravaganza, the abysmal Da Vinci Code. That one got people thinking about how not to think about Jesus, and in the most irresponsible way possible. The only honest word in the book was the shelving instruction on the back cover: "Fiction."
We also note that Newsweek makes no effort to explore Ms. Rice's religious transformation. Too bad they didn't put the inimitable Kenneth Woodward on the story. Then we'd really have something to read.