The Gospel of Contradiction

Today at Religion Dispatches, I have an interview with novelist and memoirist Mary Gordon about her latest book, Reading Jesus.

There are calls on the right and left—both in different ways—for more religious literacy. Are you, like those, urging people to know the Bible better?

It depends on what you mean by “know.” Fundamentalists know yards of scripture. They’ve memorized it. They’ve clearly read it a lot. But how do they read? I would like people to read better rather than reading more. We have some fantasy that, at some point in history, things were fixed and therefore life was easier. The Gospels are not fixed, they’re complicated and contradictory. A lot of the evil in the world comes from not being able to endure the pain of contradiction. Rather than endure it, people act violently, because anger and aggression cut out contradiction. They say, “We’ve lost something.” But reading the Gospels carefully and openly means blasting through a fantasy of stability that never was.

Also, be sure to check out an excerpt from the book today at Killing the Buddha.