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Jesus: A Meditation on His Stories and His…
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Jesus: A Meditation on His Stories and His Relationships with Women

by Andrew Greeley

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"... the God of Jesus is a God so deeply in love with his creatures that if humans should behave the same way, they would be deemed crazy.

Any theology that questions this insight has no claim to be Christian."


I picked this book up while browsing through our library's religion/philosophy shelves. Andrew Greeley is a Catholic priest. He's also a journalist, sociologist, and New York Times Bestselling Author. His name was familiar to me, but this is the first book of his I have read. It came as a nice revelation that I, a non-Catholic, and a Catholic priest, had so much in common with our views of Jesus and Christianity than differences. What was even more surprising was what I learned from this little book.

Greeley's book is about exactly what the title says it is. Greeley's point about Jesus' relationship with women is that we fail to grasp how absolutely revolutionary it was that Jesus treated women with such respect and honor. Not only did he respect and honor them, but elevated them. Who was the first to have contact with the resurrected Jesus? A woman.
"The radical equality of everyone in the kingdom of God was an idea that was beyond their comprehension. It was absurd to think that Jesus would appear first of all to a woman and an unstable one at that - absurd and scandalous. We find it acceptable today only because the scene in the garden outside the tomb has become commonplace We have heard it told so often on Easter morning that we take it for granted. Same story as last year. We don't notice that it is the kind of story that a radical feminist might have composed."

The "stories" Greeley is referring to are mostly Jesus' parables. I always appreciate it when someone can point out something in the Bible from a different angle. His perspective on these old familiar "stories" (at least familiar to those of us who have ever spent any amount of time in a church pew, Catholic or otherwise) is quite interesting. Some of these stories have become so familiar that they have lost their intended point and impact and are simply used for mere "homilies." The best example is the story of the Prodigal Son. You all know the story, junior gets his inheritance and goes off and squanders it on women and drinking and then when the money and fun runs out, repents and goes back home. It's fairly common for those in the pulpit to say, "see, junior had a change of heart, felt sorry, and went home." The truth of the matter is junior wasn't sorry at all; he was hungry! And he had a speech all ready to impress his "push-over" daddy with. A careful reading of the story shows that junior's manipulative speech never even made it out of his mouth; his daddy ran out to meet him while he was still on the road. A joyful father now reunited with his lost son, kills the fatted calf and has a large feast. This annoys the oldest son who, according to himself, has done everything right and nobody ever threw a party for him. (whine, whine). The emphasis on this story is often put on the returning son, this poor Jewish kid having to take care of the pigs, but "As John Shea remarks, if anyone in this story is a prodigal, it's the father. ... a generous and loving man with two sons who are losers, the one a wastrel, the other a rigid accountant of grievances. He spoils the two boys rotten and continues his excessive love even though they are miserably ungrateful in return...." The one thing I learned here is that there is a definitive pattern to Jesus' parables: "... the God person (the father), the helpless person - in this case a passive-aggressive and scheming wretch (the first son), and the third man (the second son)." By looking at the Parables from a different angle, they take on a new and more powerful meaning. These stories become elevated from nice little Sunday school lessons on how to behave and treat other people into insights into the personality of the God that Jesus was trying to show us.

While the book itself is exactly what it says it is, Greeley does find ways to talk about the Church as a whole, the Catholic Church, forgiveness, politics, and even the death penalty. Some of the stances he takes (especially when criticizing his own organization) are pretty brave. Even though I don't agree with him 100 percent on everything, I certainly admire his chutzpah and I surely learned quite a bit in this little book. ( )
  avidmom | May 25, 2014 |
It is always interesting to read interpretations of the parables. Along with Jesus's first Disciple, I have ears but do not hear. It is rather telling that Fr. Greeley's book does not bear the imprimatur of the Vatican, yet neither has it been censored. ( )
  kaulsu | Jun 3, 2012 |
Jesus : a meditation on his stories and his relationships with women is a look at the parables of Jesus and the passages about his relations with women from a slightly different angle. Greeley is a storyteller and so he analyzes them as stories. What do they say? What is the point of the story? Why was it written down and remembered when other events were not?

This is a good method to break open a story and see something fresh within it. Many of us have read these texts as children, as young adults and as adults, have looked at them as sacred, as literature, as texts to be decoded. Examining them as stories takes us back to square one, where everything we have learned can still be applied. His comments about the parables (there are always three people in a parable, God, a person and a third party which is the audience/reader) are worth the price of admission by themselves. Quirky and idiosyncratic as always, Greeley enlightens not despite that, but because of it. ( )
  neotradlibrarian | Nov 25, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765317761, Hardcover)

"We must begin our story of Jesus by granting him permission to surprise us endlessly...." ---from the Introduction
 
Jesus of Galilee taught through stories, which even today contain the power to startle us out of our prejudices and preconceptions. Now Father Andrew M. Greeley, one of America's most beloved storytellers, examines the parables told by Jesus in search of a fuller understanding of the man and his message.
This engaging and informal collection of homilies reveals a Jesus whose simple parables carry profound lessons about the Kingdom of Heaven. Along the way, Father Greeley touches on such provocative topics as the significance of Jesus's Jewish roots, his deep and revolutionary relationship with women, The Da Vinci Code, and The Passion of the Christ. He also singles out the four greatest parables, which best illustrate the infinite love and mercy of the God whose kingdom began with Jesus and continues even today.
As a storyteller, Jesus often surprised his listeners with unexpected twists that challenged them to see the world in a whole new light. Father Greeley's insightful tour of the Gospels provides a fresh look at the parables that strips away centuries of false and mistaken interpretations to get at the essential truth of who Jesus really was and what he believed.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:56 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

As a storyteller, Jesus often surprised his listeners with unexpected twists that challenged them to see the world in a whole new light. Father Greeley's insightful tour of the Gospels provides a fresh look at the parables that strips away centuries of false and mistaken interpretations to get at the essential truth of who Jesus really was and what he believed. Along the way, Father Greeley touches on such provocative topics as the significance of Jesus's Jewish roots, his deep and revolutionary relationship with women, The Da Vinci Code, and The Passion of the Christ. He also singles out the four greatest parables, which best illustrate the infinite love and mercy of the God whose kingdom began with Jesus and continues even today.--From publisher description.… (more)

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