Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana by Anne Rice
Published by Alfred A. Knopf
Released 4 March 2008
Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana is a meditation: It is a journey through a forbidden grove, a desert, and a river laced with innocence and injuries, temptations and revelations, religious dynamics and the world within a single soul. Anne Rice’s Yeshua, in Christ the Lord, is clearly the historical and scriptural Jesus central to Christianity; but Rice’s story presents an unexpected and unspoken bidding to explore the Jesus undefined by history and religion. It is the portrait of Christ the Lord made unique by who and what he is to the individual soul.
“…Dear God, next to this, this endless spawning of deed from deed and word from word and thought from thought–the world is nothing. Every single soul is a world!” [p. 181]
Rice has clearly done her homework. The people and events in her book are absolute in their parallel to facts, creeds, and historical accounts of Christianity’s Jesus. Integrating truth and fiction while engaging the reader on such a personal level is, perhaps, the strongest literary feature of The Road to Cana. I can not imagine how Rice could have written this work without considerable sensitivity to the ranges of spirituality and belief among her readers.
Rice’s title might suggest a certain readership, but Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana is not a dressed-up familiar story or restatement of Christian scriptures. Neither is it intended for Christians only. It is not theology or a feel-good devotional for light reading. It is not historical fiction either. It is, instead, a fully-developed novel that can stand on its own, with or without the element of Christian faith. Because of this, Rice’s multi-layered novel is an excellent choice for book clubs and reading groups.
The biblical account of Jesus isn’t what drives The Road to Cana; it is, instead, it is the matrix of characters who fill and color its backdrop: Avigail is the precious beloved in the single heart of the man Yeshua, and the beloved in eyes of the vast Divine who is also Yeshua; James is the first and older who struggles with the personhood of a sibling who is not really a brother by birth; Jason is the restless and frustrated mover and shaker who struggles to find his own place and purpose; Silent Hannah’s language expresses the belonging to and dependency on those around her as well as her sorrow for a brother who was ripped away unjustly. And there are others who, along with Avigail, James, Jason, and Silent Hannah, have their own need for redemption, mercy, and miracles.
I found myself among the names and faces in The Road to Cana. I wasn’t specifically Yesuha or Avigail or James or Silent Hannah. I was all of them. Although I read the book in two nights (so I could write this review), I will read it again, but in the practice of lectio divina. I want to think about and meditate on Rice’s characters and events. I want to peel back a few more layers and see where that road to Cana takes me.
Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana, in its remarkable imagination and spiritual depth, gives readers a meaningful glimpse of a place and time where
“… Every single soul is a world.”