• Gore Vidal wrote this novel in 1962. Compared to other works in this list, you might think this one missplaced. It is fiction. But it is an historical novel based on all the readings Vidal did to understand his subject. In my personal reading of this novel, I highlighted 95 passages, that included 32 “general insights,” 4 major questions, 17 sections of relevance to the theme of this website, 17 passages the gave me insight into my personal challenges, and 25 citations of persons or virtues or belief systems that I wanted to look up to check on Vidal’s presentation of them. So despite it being historical fiction of events 1,600 years ago, it said much of relevance to me and to this current separation of the secular and sacred. [73F/W’13]
  • The influential position, intellectual talents, honesty or simplicity of spirit, and asceticism of the protagonist in this novel makes it relevant to this list. Julian was the last Roman Emperor of the Constantinian Dynasty. He was called “the apostate” because he tried to undo all that his uncle, Constantine the Great (St. Constantine in the Eastern Orthodox Church) had accomplished to make the relatively newly formed Christianity the main religion of the Roman Empire instead of being persecuted as it was by his predecessors. But unlike Constantine, his nephew Julian was highly critical of the hierarchy of the christian church of his times in a way that sounds much like what Jesus of Nazareth might have said to rebuke those supposed followers in that day merely 400 years after Christ. That criticism is incredibly and eerily similar to the criticism of the current Roman Catholic Church hierarchy by Pope Francis and some of the faithful. [74F/W’13]

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