Warning: Long Introductory Post Alert!
A couple of years ago I stayed up late to watch Charlie Rose. His program is very basic. One interviewer, one wooden table and a black background make the conversations especially engaging. On this particular night he was interviewing the novelist Anne Rice, famous for writing her vampire chronicles.
Not long before this I had read that Rice had some kind of spiritual awakening. Naturally dubious, I didn’t pay attention to the details of what turned out to be her return to her Roman Catholic faith. It’s not uncommon to hear about faith commitments among the rich and famous. Unfortunately, it is less common to see solid reasons to believe such commitments.
I was interested in the conversation that she was having with Charlie and more than a bit interested in the discussion of the novel she had just finished, Christ the Lord. It was her latest, a biographical sketch of the childhood of Jesus. Not expecting her depiction of Jesus to be recognizable I listened to the interview looking for things I could disagree with. I was hunting for misleading statements about Christ, endorsements of pseudo-scholarship, and for what I assumed would be confused and conflated beliefs. I was pleasantly surprised to find her conversation with Charlie Rose sincerely engaging as she described her experience of leaving her faith as a young woman and then returning to the faith of her childhood.
In an almost repentant tone Rice said that she was done with the writing that had made her wealthy and famous and claimed that the rest of her work would be writing about the person of Jesus Christ. In researching this work she reported having read virtually all of the modern scholarship on the historical Jesus. I had a hard time believing this knowing that there was a spate of books on the subject of the historical Jesus published in the last decade, not to mention all of them from earlier in the 20th century.
Charlie Rose, after hearing this claim, asked Rice the simple question: “What is the best book of modern Jesus scholarship available today?” She unflinchingly replied, The Resurrection of the Son of God by Bishop N.T. Wright. With this endorsement she joined in with the majority of evangelical Christians who consider Wright’s book to be the best historical defense of Christ’s resurrection. It is a big book, approximately 800 well footnoted pages, scholarly but readable.
When I saw this interview I had already planned on reading Wright’s book. I figured that, if the writer of the Vampire Chronicles cared enough to read this book then I could care enough too. Maybe I could. Maybe I should. I am glad that I did.
I want to spend a few upcoming posts to share some thoughts on Wright’s book. It has prompted me to get a copy of his latest book, Surprised by Hope which includes a lot of the material in The Resurrection…, plus much more, on a more pastoral level.
You can watch Rice’s conversation with Charlie Rose below.
The video begins at min. 29:35… (right after the Jamie Foxx preview)