Of strength and tenderness

Of strength and tenderness

This comes from Kazantzakis’s account of Jesus’ life and death, and I was astonished by the prayer he puts in Christ’s mind as he braces for the coming crucifixion.  What an original and touching test of endurance: the capacity to undergo...
From mud to spirit

From mud to spirit

Yes, there is much you can do to transmute mud into brightness if you have enough time. I love the variety of interpretations I find regarding time and our relationship to it, and here it is cast at its most helpful, as the element that can ‘ripen all’. Of...
White-capped sea

White-capped sea

This is Jesus being spoken to by Peter, but unable to hear through the noise of his own turmoil or the roiling noise of the crowds come to witness an earlier crucifixion, for which Christ himself made the cross.  This is a surprising start to the story of Jesus, as...
Well-nourished horses

Well-nourished horses

A shocking juxtaposition of this attractive image of fine, strong, cared for horses, and their use by Roman cavalry as a form of crushing crowd control. ‘… and the proud well-nourished horses which trampled the Jewry underfoot.’   Source: Nikos...
Wheat-complexioned face

Wheat-complexioned face

You would not expect that this unusual hue – wheat-complexioned – describes a young and uncertain Jesus. Kazantzakis’ surprising version of Christ’s life was intended as a universal story of a man’s struggle and triumph, to lend...
A rotting bog of security

A rotting bog of security

In Kazantzakis’ lively version of Christ’s life, Jesus’ mother wishes only that his spiritual struggles don’t get in the way of his marrying a nice girl and giving her grandchildren she can parade in the Biblical equivalent of the park.  She...
Of love and torment

Of love and torment

Kazantzakis’ bold and imaginative retelling of Christ’s life – and death – gives a new take on some of the Biblical characters you may have thought you knew through Sunday schools or other religious (Christian) instruction. In his version, Mary...
Previously-unsoiled lintel

Previously-unsoiled lintel

A horribly vengeful way to clean an allegedly soiled lintel, from Kazantzakis’ lively version of Christ’s life. ‘Herod … had smeared forty adolescents with tar and ignited them as torches because they pulled down the golden eagle he had...
Stiff-necked God

Stiff-necked God

This is a tough God, stiff-necked here and elsewhere mentioned in the context of ‘God-trodden chaos’.  A curious image, God having a stiff neck. His relationship with his people seems as harsh as the Biblical sun at noon. ‘From every Jewish home the...
Stuff-pocket Zebedee

Stuff-pocket Zebedee

A hard-dealing merchant who makes money hand over fist. His elderly wife Salome is a more impressive character, however. ‘And old stuff-pocket Zebedee filled his own jars and barrels for the year with the commission he took for use of the press.’  ...
Of globs and blubber

Of globs and blubber

This charming image – of a priest no less – had me searching all kinds of strange photos to illustrate it.  The deep fat fryer won the day.  See Mervyn Peake’s Swelter, another character of the same proportions. ‘He was so fat that globs of...
As big as …

As big as …

A vivid way to vaunt the vastness of vine-fruit. ‘The grapes seemed as big as twelve-year old boys.’   Source: Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation, trans. P.A. Bien (London: Faber and Faber, 1983), p. 502 Photo credit: Free-Photos at...
Man in a hurry

Man in a hurry

Jesus lays out a few ground rules to Judas whom, it seems, could have done with a dose of quinuituq. I loved this lesson in patience, and the idea that men and trees are bound by the same laws of God. “If you love me, be patient.  Look at the trees.  Are they in...
Steady as she goes

Steady as she goes

Sometimes the world – at least our human version of it – feels wobbly, so I found this affirmation of its steadiness and solid foundations in some sense reassuring. But of course, it depends which – or  whose – world we are talking about, and...

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