Literary Sister of Angels Theology Mixes with Fiction

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Angel & Me

By Sara Maitland

142 pages Moorhouse Publishing, $9(paper) SARA MAITLAND does not write ordinary theology in ordinary forms. She started out tucking fictional stories of Biblical women into "Daughter of Jerusalem," a novel written in the early 1970s. By "Ancestral Truths," her feminist theology integrated and undergirded the rich plot line. For last year's book, "A Big Enough God," Maitland stuck to essays, wittily outlining her growing understanding of God and religion. For "Angel & Me," first published in the United Kingdom last year, Maitland dazzingly returned to fictional narratives, but she has formed them into 15-minute radio scripts for the BBC's "Morning Story" program. The four parts comprise five stories each, often juxtaposing Brit-slang with Biblical rhythms. "Mother of the Promise" tells Sarah's story. Of all the sections, this one most manipulates dramatic poetry. At beginnings and endings, "Sarah is old, old and very tired," appears again and again. "Women of the Passion," which Maitland wrote for Holy Week 1989, records the time between Palm Sunday and Good Friday in women's voices, from Mary's mothering voice of freedom, to a dove seller's defensiveness banked against Martha's listmaking, Claudia's letter about her husband Pilate, and Mary Magdala's observations, for which Maitland shifts from first to third person: "It takes a surprisingly long time to die of crucifixion. …