Monday, March 05, 2007

Unhappy endings

For the Guardian, the novelist Richard Gwyn came up with a top 10 list of books in which things end badly.

Number One on his list:
The Bible by various authors

I am thinking specifically of the New Testament here, the gospels, where the protagonist, an illegitimate carpenter from Nazareth, is crucified. By an extraordinary twist of events, this act of crucifixion provided western culture with its predilection for unhappy endings as well as a template for suffering, and a philosophy of childcare and education based on the twin bastions of fear and guilt. The template of the crucifixion presupposes that we all have a personal cross to bear in order to traverse this vale of tears that constitutes our earthly existence. We are told "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I don't get it at all. I realise that redemption and eternal life is the pay-off, but what kind of a father sacrifices his own child for an ideal when it is that same father who made up the rules in the first place? And what a horrid way to die, nailed to a cross while stinking legionnaires jibe and scoff. Having said that, it has to be added that the figure of Christ presents the archetype of the wounded healer: what makes you sick can also make you well.
Read about the other nine titles.

--Marshal Zeringue