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Monday, May 31, 2010

Theology and Author Jim Harrison

Gnosticism played a role in the last two novels I've read, The Other by David Guterson and True North by Jim Harrison. I've read almost all of Harrison's many published books: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; and the short mention in this novel of The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels was enough to make me read it.

This is not the first time I've read a book about religion that Harrison complimented since his also was my first recommendation of Stephen Mitchell's The Gospel According to Jesus. Don't conclude that religion is a common topic of his writing, however, as the topic runs well behind drinking, fishing, and sex. In his novels there must be 10 times more descriptions of the beauty of bare female bottoms than of anything remotely theological (Harrison is clearly an ass man), but even though his religious references are unusual and brief his thoughts weigh heavily on me because I admire his writing

Harrison's memoir Off to the Side describes his embrace and subsequent rejection of Fundamentalist Protestantism as a teenager. He is well read in Buddhism which makes his interest in Pagel's and Mitchell's books logical since Mitchell is a Buddhist and Pagel's book on gnosticism discusses its similarity to some aspects of the Eastern religions.

Both The Gnostic Gospels and The Gospel According to Jesus challenge traditional Christianity although they show great respect for the teachings of Jesus. They both give me much to think about concerning religion and history.

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