Thursday, November 7, 2013

Radical Jesus:  A Graphic History of Faith

Reviewed by Duane Clinker

Radical Jesus, edited by Paul Buhle, is a just-published story of faith through history - told by pictures and text in comic/graphic form.  

comic form art / real depth

Attempts to tell the story of faith in comics often fall as flat as the two-dimensional pages on which they are printed.  In Radical Jesus, as in the best of comics, the pictures and words blend to make a third kind of media that is greater than the sum of its parts.  The reader comes to see and feel through the chemistry of image and text together.

Radical Jesus:  A Graphic History of Faith, jumps to life in texts by Buhle and images by Sabrina Jones, Gary and Laura Dumm, and Nick Thorkelson, all of whom bring their own sensitivities in the cause of justice and mercy to the artistic task at hand.  

The first chapter of the book centers on the gospel of Jesus, and serves as foundation and a kind of bridge for what comes next.  Unexpectedly, the next section pushes us immediately forward into the 14th century.  Step by step we experience examples of real people in real time discovering the the radical Jesus.  By the final chapter, we are firmly rooted in the present.  We thus explore how this Jesus-call effects people in widely different places through  the millennia.

unheard stories of the journey

Many of the stories told are not well known.  The lives described represent anything but household names to most of us.  This is a big part of the volumes magnetic charm.  

We meet the Lollards, with their hope and refusal of terror, as they stubbornly walk the way of Christ.  There is the story of peaceful Kirk Willems who saves the life of the one who is ultimately ordered to execute him.  Here, is the courage of Fred Schuttlesworth and his amazing escape from the bombing of his home during the civil rights movement.  These, and many, many more, all usher us into today where, in multiple neighborhood house meetings, we see ordinary people planing actions of resistance and love here, and around the world.  

What one experiences in this immersion is anything but the comfortable gospel of wealth, or the practice of power over others, that is promoted in so many Christian cathedrals, mega church stadiums, and small and polite, ingrown churches.  No, this is not the gospel lite, but instead an ultimately faithful encounter with the old, old story of real of a more radical, and faithful way. 

invitation and warning

Paul Buhle whose vision nurtured and pushed this project into print over a period of five years is to be thanked for the gift that he, and the artists, have given.  Through these pages  we may feel again the beating of our own hearts, and the hunger of our own souls, for different lives and a better world.  
But a word of caution:  One may also experience something more.  Along with the desire for change,  some will undoubtedly encounter a more specific inner call to join and to follow that ancient way.  Though often unnamed, this “graphic history of faith,” suggests that this very sense of pulling, may just be the spirit of Jesus, with us still. 

This publication has life in it.  Taste and see.  Buy it for yourself; then give it to others.  

to purchase

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1 comment:

  1. Hey, good start! Write more & spread the word.