The Gospel Passion

One night in the summer of 1985, I was stretched out in a banged up old rowboat listening to the branches of eucalyptus trees nudge each other in the breeze, and resting in that sweet rocking motion made by night wind on water. Just past midnight the stars began to wink out. Quickly I was caught in the midst of a full-fledged squall. The shore was close so I wasn't in danger, but the speed and ferocity of the storm are something I will never forget. I'll also never forget that it happened on the Sea of Galilee.

There have been times in my life when the Holy Writ passed down to me these last 2,000 years suddenly gets the dust blown out of it and comes frighteningly to life—sometimes in a situation like the one above and sometimes on the S2 bus headed home from work. Those moments are steps in my journey of conversion, and send me running back to scripture to see if the words I remember there are really true.

In Reynolds Price's Three Gospels I met a kindred soul. In the preface he writes, "Reading the gospels, in whatever language or era, is the same perilous and incessantly demanding transaction that we conduct by the moment with our nearest kin and loved ones. What do you mean? How have I failed you? What do you demand of me?" Social customs and worldviews aside, an elemental spark in the human dialogue lives on in the scriptures. Price has spent most of his life celebrating and investigating that spark.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1997
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