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But_what_if_she_d_said_noReview by Alan Ray

Book | But what if she’d said ‘No’? | Catherine E. Laufer

Are you looking for a Christmas present for a slightly religious relative that they could read without embarrassment on the tram?   

The coquettish cover photo and tantalising title give no hint that this is a collection of creative conversations about well known Biblical passages, imagined from the point of view of a person who might have been there.

Catherine Laufer takes 15 stories from both the Old and New Testaments, treating them as though they are being reported live for Sky News or the ABC.   

The lectionary, when solemnly read from the lectern, may distance us from the impact of those earthy dramas. Here we experience through a different lens, the stories of creation, the Egyptian plagues, Jonah, the Annunciation, as well as the events of Easter, and more.

I like the vibrancy and immediacy of the narrative. For example, in the story of the feeding of the multitude, it is as though the camera pans on to the gathering crowd on the hillside before a close-up frame of Jesus’s conversation with his disciples.

At the conclusion of the Annunciation, we cross to the “reporter” who quotes the relevant Gospel passage followed by a line from John Bell’s hymn: Mary consenting to what none could guess, replied with conviction, “Tell God, I say yes”.

So often we hide Jesus and the Gospel behind stained glass windows or elaborate rituals conducted in 17th century chanted language. Or Jesus is obscured by the semantics of the catechism, or encrusted by the legalistic language of the Nicene Creed. Laufer, who has Jewish ancestry, draws on the Rabbinic tradition of storytelling, exemplified in Jesus’s parables.

For the regular churchgoer, rather than your relative described above, this 114-page book provides a means of re-invigorating  Gospel stories, dulled from much hearing. Some of them could easily be adapted for children pretending to be reporters, dramatised with several voices to enhance their message.

Available from Morning Star Publishing, RRP $19.95   

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