Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Outcast Dove: A Catherine LeVendeur Mystery

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Outcast Dove: A Catherine LeVendeur Mystery

Article excerpt

The Outcast Dove: A Catherine LeVendeur Mystery. By Sharan Newman. New York: Forge, 2003. 432 pp. $25.95 (cloth).

In an age when cultural memories are ever diminished among the major Western communities, increased interest in historical novels, in which the past is presented with requisite moral tags, is not surprising. Human nature, like its inanimate parallel, avoids a vacuum; if there are no clear interpretive testimonies passed on, it is prone to leap to any explanations to support its prejudices. This pattern in large part explains the popularity of many best-sellers like The Da Vinci Code (history parading as fiction) and, in Canada, The Pagan Christ (fiction parading as history). Underlying this phenomenon is a "gnostic" system, upholding the individual consumer's inner light against communally ascertainable historical evidence, and praising the hegemonic "knowledge" of the present over "earlier opinion." For all their patter regarding "body" and "diversity," the world of such volumes is disembodied and one-dimensional. In their rejection of traditionally transmitted memories in favor of the fabricated histories of "lost" gospels, most works of this sort, following their sources, either ignore the Hebrew Bible's presentation of a divinity acting in history or so allegorize that narrative as to deprive it of all but its pragmatic interests. Ironically, within the pronounced antiCatholicism of these works, there lurks an implicit and menacing anti-Judaism.

Against such books Sharan Newman has attempted to overcome prejudicial notions of earlier history in this and her previous eight Catherine LeVendeur mysteries and in her The Real History behind the Da Vinci Code (2005). …

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