Late last year, NPR already proved its affinity for publicizing a vicious tale where the Virgin Mary is turned into a bitter atheist who denies the divinity of Jesus and hates the Apostles for trying to spread Christianity. But NPR proved it again....on Good Friday.
The news “hook” is the forthcoming Broadway adaptation, a one-woman monologue, set to open on April 22. So NPR obviously timed the piece to tweak the Christians. All Things Considered anchor Robert Siegel interviewed the actress, Fiona Shaw, and after he heard her read from this Christian-bashing work in an Irish brogue, he compared Jesus to an Irish Republican Army terrorist leader:
SHAW: (Reading) Where is my son? Close to Jerusalem. The site for the crucifixion has been chosen. It will be near the city. I had seen a crucifixion once carried out by the Romans on one of their own. It stayed with me, the sight in the distance, the unspeakable image, the vast fierce cruelty of it. But I did not know precisely how the victim died or how long it took. I found myself asking Marcus how long a crucifixion takes as if it was something ordinary. He replied, days maybe, but sometimes hours. It depends. On what? Don't ask, he said. It's better if you don't ask.
SIEGEL: Perhaps it's just the accent, but I can't help but think of some IRA leader who's (laughter) been turned in by his mother's cousin who knows he's working with the RUC [Royal Ulster Constabulary], you know?
Siegel didn’t see fit to explain that the novelist/playwright, Colm Toibin, is a gay leftist, or that Shaw is openly gay as well. This could be a taste of where Christianity is headed in the Brave New World of “payback” presently being assembled. At the beginning, Shaw was asked to explain the character, which she quickly volunteered was submerged in the Bible (because who remembers that beautiful Magnificat speech in Luke 1?)
SHAW: She's very little in the New Testament. You know, she hardly ever speaks, twice or three times. So they've definitely kept her in a background role. And Colm seems to have thrown a spotlight on her and sort of filled in, in a way, and he's diverted a bit from the Testament of the Apostles. But he has moved - fundamentally, it's a story of a mother whose son, of course, heads to terrible destruction and her having to witness the destruction of her son, which is very painful, and in that way, it's very like many modern women who may be the mothers of soldiers or the mothers of, you know, revolutionaries. It's there, really, is where the connection lies, I think.
SIEGEL: The play is set several years after the crucifixion...
SIEGEL: ...and Mary is not exactly on board with the version of Jesus' life that his disciples, among them her minders, are busily assembling.
SHAW: Yes. The premise of the play is that these guys want to write the story of what had happened some years earlier and to make it global and to make it - to proselytize a religion based on the death of this man. And she has a story to tell, and she says to them very forcibly that she is a witness. But, of course, Colm has taken the story and diverted it slightly. She has witnessed it, she didn't like what she witnessed, she was frightened of her son's - the crowds that he began to gather. And she really found it hard to believe that he could work miracles. She just feels he's endangering himself with every big grand gesture that he seems to be associated with.
And what's very good about this is that it becomes then a very sad meditation on the crucifixion, as she has to watch her son go through that torture. But you also get a sense that she and, you know, she wants her son back. She wants him to be her son. I think that's very understandable. She doesn't want him to be a big star in the world.
Remember this reason to pledge the next time National Public Radio comes asking for money: “Because we’re fond of opportunities to tell American Christians that Jesus isn’t God.”