Calvin College professor Roy Anker suggests that John Updike's The Centaur should be the next Christian novel to be adapted for the screen. Steven D. Greydanus and Galileo Studio director Barbara Nicolosi also recommended books.
As the film's opening credits roll, a muscular but aging centaur limps down the long, empty hallway of a 1940s high school, the clack and scrape of his hooves echoing loudly off walls and floor. A silver arrow has pierced his fetlock, and to remove it, the centaur Chiron (tutor to the children of the gods) makes his way to the auto repair shop next door.
So a film version of The Centaur would begin, fusing modernity and myth. This imaginative synthesis was no gimmick in the late John Updike's dazzling, National Book Award-winning novel. The centaur's claim was both anthropological and theological. Borrowing from Karl Barth for the novel's epigraph, humankind is "the creature on the boundary between heaven and earth." That is nowhere more evident than in this novel of the sorely troubled George Caldwell/Chiron, a high school math teacher and father to art-hungry, teenaged Peter.
Late in the novel, readers discover that the novel's narrator is the adult Peter, who has made it in the '50s Greenwich Village art scene as a marginally successful abstract expressionist. Peter narrates to his half-asleep mistress the haunting, luminous puzzle of his seemingly hapless father.
His father's physical self—the centaur's horse-like legs—Peter understood well enough. But the upper half, the part thirsting for meaning and redemption, eluded Peter. Indeed, the mystery of his father, "that silly, sad man," will not let him go. For in his father, Peter glimpsed something none of his own shamefully bloated canvases ...1
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