BETWEEN NOON AND THREE: A Parable of Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace by Robert Farrar Capon

BETWEEN NOON AND THREE: A Parable of Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Outrage"" is exactly what conservative Christians will feel upon learning that Capen's three hours refer both to the time that Jesus traditionally hung upon the cross and to a series of adulterous assignations--which symbolize the unfathomable goodness of God. As a matter of fact, this intriguing fable--one part Updike and three parts St. Paul--turns out to be quite orthodox; but by the time Capon lets that secret out, even Unitarians may be too hooked to stop. The ""parable"" concerns a high-speed philanderer (and English professor) named Paul who is about to enter an affair with a married graduate student named Laura. Almost at bedside, he compulsively tells her about his past and present amours, whereupon for no good reason (how could there be, since she is grace incarnate?) she forgives him unconditionally. They make blissful love, and there is a quick fade-out--but Capon has already told us that nothing will mar their stolen pleasures. They will live happily ever after in exuberant sin. This is not fair, of course, but then neither is the idea of gratuitous salvation. (Capon concedes that the analogy limps a bit; still, he argues, look at the Prodigal Son, look at the Epistle to the Romans, etc, etc.) The Church has been afraid to preach the Pauline doctrine of freedom from the Law in all its mind-boggling boldness, so Capon figures he's entitled to stretch a point for a worthy cause. As usual, Fr. Capon is worldly, witty, subtle, ingratiating--yet, withal, heartily and unabashedly devout: the very model, one might say, of a modern Episcopalian. And for those who like their sermons that way, this one is a model too.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1982
Publisher: Harper & Row