Book Recommendation

The Book of Mary, Edited by Anthony Zurlo (CruciformPress, 2011) Okay. So, CruciformPress just did something pretty radical. They have an eBook that you can download from their website for just 99 cents through January 3rd. First book I ever read without paper. But I really wanted to read it. Anthoy Zurlo found a box from an estate auction filled with some journals . These journal entries basically make up the entire (short) book, with some very good commentary intertwined by Zurlo. The journals were written by a woman named Mary from 1986-1993. She was a mom, a drug addict, very sexually active, tormented by her sin, and had AIDS. But Zurlo challenges the reader while we offer our pity and make our judgments on Mary. How different are we? He makes some great points about how drug addicts are actually more honest with themselves than a lot of us “normal” people. He says normal can be tragic. At least the addict’s eyes are opened to the fact that they have no hope to escape this world of death.
Most of us try to suppress this truth. We play pretend. We surround ourselves with people who agree with us, who act like everything is okay. If anyone tries to remind us that things are not so good, we get angry. We want others to help us live out our fantasy, not expose the sad reality we prefer to ignore. But no matter how hard we try, the real world bleeds through. Many of us find culturally acceptable ways to cope. We fill our lives with distractions so we’re too busy to think. Most of the time, these distractions are just culturally acceptable addictions— the attention of a lover, a drive to succeed, sports and hobbies, even religious behaviors. But for some people, none of these things really work. Call it honesty, or maybe something else, but what it comes down to is that these are people who can't suppress the truth, who can't shut out the pain that comes from not having a solid hope. They are unable to escape the plain truth about our world, and they don't know how to face that awful reality—at least, not in any way that is socially acceptable. Many of these become drug addicts. They may become addicted to one drug, and then detox and get off it, but they end up getting re-addicted to that drug or another one. What makes them addicts is not so much a physiological need for cocaine or pills: they are addicts because they live to get high. And they live to get high because they see the world as it really is; they have no hope, so they live just for the now. To me, these are the sane people. You know what’s insane? To live blasé in a world that brings everyone pain and suffering. A world of uncontrollable destruction from fellow man and nature and disease. A world packed full of loneliness and tragedy and heartache so deep we can't put words to it. A world where death always wins. What’s insane is to live in that world, and to know you live in that world, and say, "Eh, not so bad. Pass me the remote." In her honesty, the addict needs strong medicine to hide from the pain. So she finds a behavior that gives a strong and immediate payoff, a response that helps her cope with or forget about or escape from the world as it really is (24-25).
Of course the Christian knows the true hope that does not disappoint. Our future, sure hope bleeds into our present, as Zurlo says, and gives us true joy. Mary mentioned in one of her journal entries how she was attracted to men who showed leadership and authority. That is our Savior, the only one with ultimate authority who led by sacrificing himself for people worse off than Mary—and you and me. As a matter of fact, he suffered in our place. Zurlo gives a beautiful gospel presentation at the end of this book. And it is really a fantastic resource for evangelical witness to an addict. But The Book of Mary is helpful to the person who already knows Christ as well. As I read Mary’s life of despair, I got to know a real person--not a drug addict. You cannot read this book without developing true compassion for those who really know they are lost. I hope that you will go to CruciformPress’s website and download a copy for yourself!