Wayward, Violent Passion: Not for Children?

September 8, 2015 in General

Several years ago, I encountered a book that depicted brutal, gratuitous sadomasochistic torture of a religious and political dissident, full of racism and with an explicitly described death. Shouldn’t that book be banned if Into the River is?

The book in question is St. Catherine Emmerich’s The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on which Mel Gibson’s film Passion of the Christ was based. When the New Zealand Chief Censor, Bill Hastings, classified that film, it originally received an R16 certificate. The Christian Right’s Society for Promotion of Community Standards complained and as a consequence, fifteen year olds can now witness copious amounts of blood, gore, torture, flagellation, impaling of hands and feet and a graphic execution. Although the film is now R15, no such sanctions apply to the book on which it is based. I am aware that it is being sold as conservative Catholic devotional literature elsewhere in the world, but I have no idea whether or not that is occurring in New Zealand as well.

I am raising this for a reason. Bob McCoskrie of Family First has taken passages out of context within Into the River and depicted it as full of sex and drug use. Well, yes, it is a Young Adult book and it is possible that such detailed descriptions may encourage young adults to deter and postpone their first sexual experiences, or to avoid taking drugs. It has won a New Zealand Post award for excellence as well, which attests to its literary quality. Well sorry, Bob, but two can play at that game. You see, I’ve just posted off my own parcel to the Literature Review Board. Guess what’s inside?


Ted Dawes: Into the River: Auckland: MUP: 2012.

Not Recommended:

Anne Catherine Emmerich: The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Charlotte, North Carolina: Tan Books: 2009.


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