Why did no one ever tell me that Franny and Zooey was all about Jesus? I feel duped. But at least I have a new favorite book… and an even deeper appreciation for The Royal Tenenbaums. Here are a few of the many memorable quotes on the subject of, you know, Our Lord in Salinger’s masterpiece:

“The part that stumps me, really stumps me, is that I can’t see why anybody — unless he was a child, or an angel, or a lucky simpleton like the pilgrim — would even want to say the prayer to a Jesus who was the least bit different from the way he looks and sounds in the New Testament. My God! He’s only the most intelligent man in the Bible, that’s all! Who isn’t he head and shoulders over? Who? Both Testaments are full of pundits, prophets, disciples, favorite sons, Solomons, Isaiahs, Davids, Pauls — but, my God, who besides Jesus really knew which end was up? Nobody. Not Moses. Don’t tell me Moses. He was a nice man, and he kept in beautiful touch with his God, and all that — but that’s exactly the point. He had to keep in touch.” (p. 170)
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“Your age has nothing to do with what I’m talking about. There are no big changes between ten and twenty – or ten and eighty, for that matter. You still can’t love a Jesus as much as you’d like to who did and said a couple of things he was at least reported to have said or done – and you know it. You’re constitutionally unable to love or understand any son of God who throws tables around. And you’re constitutionally unable to love or understand any son of God who says a human being, anyhuman being – even a Professor Tupper – is more valuable to God than any soft, helpless Easter chick.”

Franny was now facing directly into the sound of Zooey’s voice, sitting bolt upright, a wad of Kleenex clenched in one hand. Blooomberg was no longer in her lap. “I suppose you can, ” she said, shrilling.

“It’s beside the point whether I can or not. But, yes, as a matter of fact, I can. I don’t feel like going into it, but at least I’ve never tried, consciously or otherwise, to turn Jesus into St. Francis of Assisi to make him more ‘lovable’ – which is exactly what ninety-eight per cent of the Christian world has always insisted on doing. Not that it’s to my credit. I don’t happen to be attracted to the St. Francis of Assisi type. But you are. And, in my opinion, that’s one of the reasons why you’re having this little nervous breakdown. And especially the reason why you’re having it at home.”…

“Franny, I’m being serious. When you don’t see Jesus for exactly what he was, you miss the whole point of the Jesus Prayer [i.e. “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a miserable sinner”]. If you don’t understand Jesus, you can’t understand his prayer – you don’t get the prayer at all, you just get some kind of organized cant. Jesus was a supreme adept, by God, on a terribly important mission. This was no St. Francis, with enough time to knock out a few canticles, or to preach to the birds, or to do any of the other endearing things to close to Franny Glass’s heart. I’m being serious now, God damn it. How can you miss seeing that? If God had wanted somebody with St Francis’s consistently winning personality for the job in the New Testament, he’d’ve picked him, you can be sure. As it was, he picked the best, the smartest, the most loving, the least sentimental, the most unimitative master he could possibly have picked. And when you miss seeing that, I swear to you, you’re missing the whole point of the Jesus Prayer.