Saturday, November 26, 2005
Going Where Fiction Normally Doesn't Go
Last week I had to answer several queries from the copy editor working on MAGDALENE. Not really a big deal, it's just part of the process, and she made several important points.
She queried a passage my editors hadn't even blinked at--and, after a bit of thought, I passed the passage and the query on to some writer friends for their response. The topic? I had Jesus/Yeshua doing something that people in fiction and films usually don't do--attend to physical human needs. Yes, I had Jesus step away for a moment to relieve himself.
Most of the friends I queried said it didn't bother them; in fact, wrote Athol D., the passage showed the depths to which God was willing to sink to redeem us! The passage did bother a couple of folks, but I wonder if that isn't a good thing. Doesn't it say that we don't really think of Jesus as human? Yet he was as fully human as he was fully divine. In fact, his followers didn't expect a divine Messiah--they expected a descendant of David who would be the "son of God" in the same way that all children of Abraham were "sons of God" because Israel was considered God's "firstborn." It wasn't until AFTER the resurrection that most of the disciples realized that Jesus was truly divine, and the concept of the Trinity (though illustrated throughout the Bible) wasn't clearly defined until the second century.
But--back to the passage--here it is:
At a word from the disciple who'd stopped Atticus, Yeshua turned toward a thick stand of brush behind the rocks, seeking privacy.
Atticus looked away as understanding dawned. The rabbi had been standing before these people for hours without a break-no wonder he needed a moment.
"Auuuuuuuuu." Quinn pulled on the neckline of Atticus's tunic. "Auuuuuuuuu."
Atticus jiggled the baby. Soon the boy would be hungry and he had no food on hand. This prophet had better hurry.
The shrubs rustled and the rabbi reappeared. His mouth curved in a slow smile when he caught Atticus's eye. "I'm sorry you had to wait."
You see? Nothing explicit about it at all; it shows Jesus as an ordinary man. Which he was, and which he had to be in order to suffer as we suffer. But he was also fully God.
And (LOL) my good friend Deb Raney pointed out something in an earlier draft--I'd had Atticus "flush" when he realized why Yeshua stepped away. Deb pointed out not only the awful pun, but that Atticus's discomfort might serve to heighten my reader's discomfort, when in a rural society, such things were probably no big deal. So--I did let Atticus "look away" if only as a sign of respect.
What do you think? Does it bother you to think about Jesus having to attend to ordinary human needs? Can you imagine him sneezing? Stubbing his toe? What does our reticence say about him . . . and about us?