Wednesday 25 March 2020

The Book of Jotham - Arthur Powers

The Book of Jotham
Arthur Powers
Tuscany Press
ISBN 9781939627001
eISBN 9781939627025


Very few books completely surprise me. This book has been on my radar for several years and been on my kindle for a few. I finally got around to reading it, when a different Catholic author I respect asked if anyone has read it. So, it jumped to the top of my to be read pile.

It is an easy book to read, and an easy book to understand. But it is not an easy book to process. I have been thinking about it a lot over the last few days. And it is not just the story, but how the story is told that is having a lasting impact upon me. The writing reminds me of the styles of both Noah ben Shea and Paulo Coelho. There are books by both of those authors that I have returned to time and time again. And this book feels like it might fall into that practice.

The description of the volume is:

“Jotham is a mentally challenged man-child who, like the other apostles, follows Jesus as Christ carries out his ministry and experiences death by crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Yet the other apostles—the dedicated Mary, Peter, Thomas, and the rest—while they care for Jotham and look out for him, don’t understand why Jesus loves him so. Thomas even says, after Jesus offers a parable, “I don’t see why all the pots can’t be strong and beautiful.”

Jotham may be different, but through him, we come to see Jesus and Jotham not just with our eyes, but also with our hearts.”

Some reviewers speculate that Jotham has Downs Syndrome, I think it just as likely that he is on the Autism spectrum. But the specific challenge he faced are not the issue. It is his interactions with Jesus, the disciples, Mary the mother of god, and Mary of Magdala. The power in the story is both the portrayal of Jotham’s view of events, but also how others in Jesus’s circle saw and interacted with Jotham. There is immense power in the story of his being cleaned up. And also having his feet shod.

I myself have a dual form of dyslexia, and throughout my schooling from grad 2 to 20 years in university I interacted often with special needs students, or students with disabilities depending on the school and what was politically correct at the time. My disability is not physical and is not obvious to many. Others were more like Jotham, it was clear that there were differences physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Reading this book has me reflecting back on some of the other students I encountered more often. Thinking about how they saw and interpreted those interactions, and how I myself behaved. And to be honest the book will have a lasting impact on my interactions with people going forward.

I am grateful that I finally got around to reading this book. It is not an easy book to review. But I can state that I highly recommend it and challenge you to give it a read and see what sort of impact it has on your life.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Arthur Powers:
The Book of Jotham
A Hero for the People
Sketches/Rio de Janeiro & Other Poems

Contributed to:
Just So Stories
Sky Songs II: Spiritual SF

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