Most people are forced to read Catcher in the Rye during awkward adolescent periods of rebellion. People either love it or hate it. Either you think Holden, with his existential angst, is a whiny bitch, or you understand the kind of dark void that youth can see looming behind the grown-up world and responsibilities. As good as Catcher is, I think the two short novel collection Franny and Zooey is better. It’s a more adult, subtle, and obtuse look at the same dynamics of community, isolation, authenticity, conformity, and self-definition. In Franny’s words:
It’s everybody, I mean. Everything everybody does is so — I don’t know — not wrong, or even mean, or even stupid necessarily. But just so tiny and meaningless and — sad-making. And the worst part is, if you go bohemian or something crazy like that, you’re conforming just as much only in a different way.
The two novels deal with the titular Franny’s mental breakdown. In her anguish, she’s reached out for a book called The Way of a Pilgrim, a Russian religious text that explores the idea of continuous prayer and spiritual illumination. She becomes fixated on something called
Now Comcast and Verizon Fios are showing a documentary that explores the Jesus prayer:
A major motion-picture about divine wisdom, timeless insight, silence and prayer, entitled, “Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer” will premiere for three-months on Comcast and Verizon Fios Video-On-Demand, beginning on December 15, 2010.
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew offers a foreword and introduction to this story as it travels to the far reaches of the east, discovering the Jesus Prayer firsthand with Emmy award winning theologian and author, Dr. Norris J. Chumley, and renowned historian and priest, Very Rev. Dr. John A. McGuckin. They take a modern exodus to the ancient lands where Christianity and the Church began, witnessing the Jesus Prayer directly in monasteries and chapels, many places that are off-limits to the outside world.
If you liked Franny and Zooey even a little bit, it’s probably worth a watch. I plan on checking it out at some point. There’s also a teaser trailer on youtube.