A Parable for Today
By Joseph F. Girzone
- How does Joshua prove the difficulty in living a true Christian life in the present?
At first, I would like to point out that it is quite obvious that Joshua is in fact the 20th century version of Jesus Christ. It is most obvious from early on, when he first introduces himself as a carpenter. Next, he heals that little girl, and then walks through town with that large log on his shoulder, which I guess could be symbolic of the cross Jesus carried. Then there was the man who came to help Joshua, but could not for it was too heavy. That seems awfully symbolic of Simon trying to help Jesus carry the cross.
Then, later in the novel, the miracles began to pile up. Joshua healed a blind girl and enabled her to see, as Jesus did. Joshua also revived the dead boy, Michael, after he had taken a deadly fall down a flight of stairs on the ship Joshua was on. Not only that, but Joshua also de-paralyzed the Cardinal after he had a stroke during Joshua's 'trial' in Vatican City in Rome, Italy. I must say, the symbolisms were clear and strong.
Getting down to business, it was quite clear that the simplicity of Joshua's lifestyle, and not the complexity of others', was the factor that confused many in the small town of Auburn. We as people of modern times consider simplicity to be much better than bigger, and more complex, problems, lifestyles, etc., but in this case, it ends up hurting Joshua. Because Joshua does not have a nice fancy house, expensive cars and furniture, a television, or electricity for that matter...because Joshua does not posses all of these modern luxuries, he is automatically crowned a 'weirdo' and 'strange' by many--but not all (modern day apostles?). The clergyman of the Catholic Church and its divisions (i.e. the Protestant church) become automatically suspicious of the way Joshua thinks. It seems awfully symbolic of the Romans suspicions of Jesus, as the Son of God.
Just like how Jesus got into trouble for speaking his mind, Joshua also gets in trouble in the same, exact way. People ask for his advice about things, and he gives his answer, passionately. He tells them that he thinks the church as an organization and an institution is in fact scaring its followers, instead of nurturing them. In the end, Joshua is 'tried' for his outrageous beliefs by Cardinal Riccardo and the Pope at the Vatican in Rome. Although the Cardinal defends him, all of the other cardinals, as well as the Pope, do not. This seems to be a reoccurring theme throughout the novel--few in a large group of disbelievers and skeptics change sides.
All of the facts I have presented above bring me down to my last statement: It is virtually impossible to live following Jesus' words without running into constant and powerful opposition. Joshua lives Jesus' words to the fullest extent and still is not considered a normal man. The same thing happens to Jesus. Hopefully through my analysis of the novel and its extremely familiar plot, you can see what I saw in Joshua and in the novel as a whole.
In conclusion, I think Girzone is trying to teach us that extremely religious people, such as Joshua (and Jesus, too), are not exactly strangely different, but are merely misunderstood in their own time.
God Commissions Joshua To Be Awesome
- As the Book of Joshua opens, Moses is dead and God gets it in His mind that the Israelites need a new leader.
- Enter: Joshua, son of Nun.
- For clarification, when we say Nun, we mean Joshua's father, not a lady in a headpiece. Or, for that matter, without a headpiece. Capisce?
- Joshua's first duty is to have the Israelites cross the River Jordan.
- It is unclear if Joshua wonders why they have to do this, but God clarifies anyway by saying that 'every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory' (1:1-4). Oh, okay. Thanks, God.
- Now that Joshua has his mission, he's ready to begin. Or his he? Apparently, God isn't done talking. He seems to want to be sure Joshua knows He's got his back (1:5-7). Let's just say God might be a little wordy, too. We guess when you're an omnipotent being and you control all time and space, though, there's really no reason not to take up a few extra seconds.
- Now that Joshua is assured, he's ready to hit the road.
- Except he doesn't.
- Joshua goes through the camp commanding the people to pack up because in three days it's gonna be river crossing time.
- Remember three things: (1) the number three is important in the Bible, (2) the Israelites are nomads so they have very little possessions to get ready, and (3) there is no number three. We're just emphasizing that the number three is important. See number one for clarification.
- After Joshua is done telling everyone what to do, the people of Israel decide to say in perfect unison (as is the biblical way), 'Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may The Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses' (1:17).
- That quote right there is irony, ladies and gentleman. If you remember from Exodus and Deuteronomy, the Israelites were notoriously bad at following Moses's directions. To be fair, Moses was pretty bad at following his own directions too, though.
- The Israelites finish their speech to Joshua by saying 'Only be strong and courageous' (1:18).
- This phrase comes up a lot in the first chapter of Joshua. We think it's safe to bet that 'strong and courageous' might be a central theme of this story.
- Remember, the Israelites at this point in their history are a warrior nation, and warriors pride themselves on being strong and courageous.