Girzone’s fans, who have followed the parablist through his many slim volumes of simplistic restatements of Christ’s messages, as well as his taking on of new subjects such as gay marriage and women in the priesthood, will be delighted to hear that his Jesus figure, Joshua (1990), will arrive in movie theaters next spring just as this new book comes out. Girzone, who retired from the active priesthood in 1981, is on a mission to lift Christ’s parables out of the archaic and bring them to modern man—call it Christ in khakis, perhaps. In The Messenger, he takes on the divisions in the Kingdom of Light (the Catholic Church), the bureaucracies swamping the Vatican, the splinter groups abandoning the Kingdom’s authority, and non-Kingdom preachers springing up with flocks of their own, and so on, all of this making Christ fade from the forefront of faith. This time, Girzone gives up Joshua for Francis, a maverick priest seemingly based on Girzone’s own life and career. Francis flies about the globe making friends and giving long talks about the King (Jesus), whose tender spirit has been wounded by the many cracks splitting his Kingdom.
Girzone still oraculates his story in parables, but this mode is mushy when he should give real sinew to Francis’s antagonist.