Friday, March 6, 2009

Book Review: The Passion of Mary-Margaret

Samson, Lisa. 2009. The Passion of Mary-Margaret. Thomas Nelson Publishers. 313 pages.

"My sisters, if I began this tale at the end, you would know my heart is full of love even though nothing went as planned. I could tell you God's ways are not ours, but you probably know that already. And I could tell you that his mercy takes shape in forms we cannot begin to imagine, but unless you walked in my shoes for the past seventy years, you could not feel the mercy I have been given."

I'll be honest, I was skeptical about this book right from the start. While it hooked me--intrigued me enough to keep reading--I wasn't sure I was liking what I was reading. It had this other-ness to it. This off-putting (to me) flavor where I wasn't quite sure what to think of it, what to make of it. It is a roughly told story that is all-a-scramble. Within a chapter, the narrator might have touched upon four different years with little or no transition. She might be seven, fifteen, forty-two, and seventy-three all in the same chapter. Which, as a reader, I just found confusing. But the story, while its framework may have left me desiring something more straightforward, was without a doubt compelling the majority of the time. The story of Mary-Margaret from birth to death was an interesting one, a compelling one. Raised by her grandmother, she knows that her mother was raped and died giving birth to her. She's known from childhood that she wants to be a religious--a sister. She grew up believing that Jesus was her husband. That she was his bride. Her faith in Jesus is one thing that's undeniable. How she goes about it, well, that's up to you to decide. (You see, Mary-Margaret sees Jesus, hears Jesus, talks to Jesus, has tea with Jesus.) But despite all that otherness about it, part of me liked The Passion of Mary-Margaret. Mary-Margaret was told by Jesus to marry Jude, a drug addict, a prostitute (sleeping with men and women, whoever will pay), a diseased man. A man she more-than-liked as a kid, but a man whom she doesn't trust or respect much since he's taken a different path as an adult. But Jesus tells her he has a plan. She needs to marry this man one way or another. And so she goes about wooing a man who's seen and done it all. What is God's plan in all this? Mary-Margaret finds out one day at a time. What I loved about this one--probably the thing that surprised me most--was how this woman stepped out in faith and chose to see a man as God sees him. Not as all the mistakes he has made, not all the ugliness of his sins, not all the brutality and rawness of his attitude and character. But as a man whom God had chosen to redeem. She saw him through Jesus' eyes. And through Jesus' eyes, he was beautiful. Not that God was done with him, not that God was content to let him stay addicted to drugs, walking the streets, selling his body and soul for a cheap or not-so-cheap fix. But Jesus saw what the man would be. And that is something. So for that alone, I recommend this book. This book looks at hard issues in life--drugs, sex, sexual abuse and molestation, shame, pain, suffering--and it does so as honestly as it can be done.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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