Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Throughout the Christian era, the seven utterances of Christ on the cross have been, as Neuhaus points out in Death on a Friday Afternoon, the subject of numerous interpretations, Catholic and otherwise, ranging from Ludwig van Beethoven to Samuel Beckett, from James Joyce to Pope John Paul II. Given the stark confrontation with his own mortality and his long publishing career examining the troubling implications of Christianity in a contemporary culture unwilling, or as Neuhaus fears, uninterested, in accepting the fullest responsibilities of its faith, Neuhaus brings to the genre a singular voice that offers a reading of these words that although solidly girded by biblical scholarship is immediate and accessible. To establish its relevance, the argument draws from personal anecdotes and popular culture without abandoning its gravitas. Although in the 1980’s Neuhaus had established a reputation as an uncompromising archconservative columnist for Commonweal and as the editor of provocative critiques of modern culture, he offers these chapters not as scholarly exegeses or as incendiary diatribes but rather as occasions for reflection, arguing that only in pondering the essential mystery of the sacrifice at Calvary (a God accepting the ignominy of such a brutal and public execution) can a contemporary Christian begin to appreciate the gift of hope that is central to the Christian conception of the universe as creation.

Thus, there is...

(The entire section is 402 words.)