10 November 2022

Mark V and the Eugene demoniac

There's something you could do that would make this blog post/review a lot easier to write. And it will only cost you $20 plus postage, and perhaps a certain amount of trust.

Here it is: go to this Web page and order Mark V: The Opera. Fair warning: read the description before buying. Also see Judy Maurer's interview with author Derek Lamson here.

Mark V: The Opera was written by Derek, illustrated by John Williams, and lettered by Brandon Buerkle. In retelling the story of the Gerasene demoniac liberated by Jesus, set in contemporary Eugene, Oregon, it has all of the advantages of a graphic novel. It can switch times and contexts instantly, shift in and out of dream mode, and drop in little visual puns and Easter eggs specific to Eugene--but those same advantages might lose their magic in the hands of a conventional reviewer.

Instead of a linear summary of the book, here are some questions that might hint at the connections Derek Lamson makes as his hero, the graphic Derek, composes his graphic opera: 

First, Derek looks at the Biblical record. "I was trying to understand how the [Gerasene] demoniac [from Mark 5:1-20] went crazy, because he wasn't always crazy, he wasn't born broken, any more than I was." How did Derek the opera-dreamer envision the effect of Roman imperialism on the Mark V demoniac from Gerasa? 

What social forces have cycled around to marginalize and bedevil people today? Can our own ancestors help us understand how we got here? Can today's addicts and others living in bondage open our eyes? When we're under attack by our own addictions and demons, do we know whom to call?

When Jesus comes to us, prepared to remove our chains, how will we receive him? What will he ask of us? Will anyone at all believe our story? ("We're Eugene--we don't do religion!" "...How I became a zombie for Christ and now you can too. Have your credit card ready--operators are standing by!")

Along the way, Derek furnishes his story with a rich series of signposts and symbols, some whimsical and some definitely not. Drops of blood. Quakers and ghosts and guardian angels. The graveyard at night (specifically the Eugene Pioneer Cemetery at East 18th Ave. and University Street). The city of Eugene itself (well, and Veneta). Voices. Demons. Ezra Pound. An edgy tee shirt about "nice Quakers." And panhandlers--voluntary and involuntary--maybe reminding you that you've met each other before, and asking a haunting question:

"Can you spare some change?"

Mark V book readings/signings on November 20 in Portland and December 10 in Eugene--see this page for details on time and place.

On Ukraine: I'm sure that you're keeping up with events in Russia's war on Ukraine and aren't depending on my weekly blog posts to stay current. However, did you see the comments from the high priest of the Church of Satan on recent Russian charges that Satanism is gaining ground in Ukraine?

Concerning the possible Russian retreat from Kherson: what's the logic, and why the "fanfare"?

Prayer for Ukraine and peace: the weekly online meeting for worship under the care of Friends World Committee for Consultation, European and Middle East Section, will continue at least through the anniversary of the war's start. I'm there most weeks. Details at this EMES page.

The heads of several Quaker organizations wrote this joint statement on the Peace Testimony and Ukraine.

As I write this post on Thursday evening, London time, the balance of power in the U.S. Congress after Tuesday's election is still unclear. I found yesterday's post by Heather Cox Richardson to be helpful in this in-between moment. For now I'm taking an occasional look at The Guardian's election results Web page.

Last week I wrote about Quaker Shaped Christianity, the book by Mark Russ that's scheduled to be released in about a week. Woodbrooke is hosting an online book launch on December 5. Sign-up information for the event is on this page

Adria Gulizia asks, "Why do Friends worship?" Good question, thoughtful answers.

Bobby "Blue" Bland and B.B. King, enjoying each other's company. (1977.)

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