Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Misfits Read Read's Death of a Pope

From Buzz and the Misfits:

"Piers Paul Read's recent novel, The Death of a Pope, received mixed reviews from our Misfits. Although Joseph Pearce called it "a faith-driven theological thriller", we decided it wasn't much of a "thriller" and that it had few believable moments that placed you anywhere near the edge of your seat. Many non-Catholics who read the novel will assume that it is anti-Catholic as the author identifies every modern challenge facing the Church(condoms for HIV victims in Africa, female priests, abortion, birth control, etc., etc.) to build his story. Regrettably, the anti-Catholic issues raised in the novel are not directly confronted or refuted. The only character in the story who might have applied some "apologetics" to the issues is Father Luke Scott. However, his tepid defense of Church doctrine did little to confront or give balance to the secular, modernist views of his niece, Kate Ramsey. As one of our Misfits remarked, Read's Father Scott was certainly not a priest that invited comparison to G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown. In fact, we wished there had been a bit more of Father Brown's character in Father Scott.

We also found Read's laicized anti-hero, Juan Uriarte, to be a very thin character. Uriarte's early experience in El Salvador is briefly described in the novel and used to set up the violence he is planning against the Church. The character, Uriarte, actually expresses Read's disillusionment with liberation theology and what he terms "social" Catholicism. In a recent interview with Ignatius Press, Read explained:

"When I was young I was a zealous exponent of liberation theology. As I grew older I like to think I grew wiser and came to see how 'social' Catholicism, however superficially appealing in the face of the suffering caused by poverty and injustice, in fact falsifies the teaching of the Gospels. This is particularly true when it condones or even advocates the use of violence. Yet this was precisely the message preached from the pulpits in Catholic parishes and taught in Catholic schools in the last decades of the 20th century. The two visions of what charity demands of a Christian confront one another on the issue of the Aids epidemic in Africa. It is this confrontation that gave me the idea for my novel."

That said, we do not believe the idea for the novel was fulfilled in The Death of a Pope.

And now to the future--our October book is Manalive by G. K. Chesterton. This is another of Chesterton's classic novels. "In this long-hidden yet highly entertaining classic, author G.K. Chesterton shows readers, through the delightful story of a windy evening with the mysterious Mr. Innocent Smith, the soul-refreshing secret of the love of life itself." Most avid readers remember the opening sentence of many of the novels they have read. Chesterton's opening sentence in Manalive is wonderfully poetic and memorable. The story begins with, "A wind sprang high in the west, like a wave of unreasonable happiness, and tore eastward across England, trailing with it the frosty scent of forests and the cold intoxication of the sea."

There is another reason why we are reading Manalive at this time. It will help prepare us for viewing the movie Misfit Ahlquist and crew have been busy filming! A trailer for the movie is now on YouTube at . I will let you know as soon as there is information on a release date.

Manalive is available [in the Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton edition from Loome Theological Booksellers].

Finally, our book for November and December is The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580 by Eamon Duffy. This monumental book by Duffy, is "a work of daring revision and a masterpiece of historical imagination...(that) utterly transforms the misinformation and propaganda that still surrounds the late-medieval English Church". In the process, it patiently and systematically destroys the untruths created by reformation and enlightenment scholars and authors.

. . .

And in conclusion, I do welcome any comments on our reviews, books, or selections for the future.

Warmest regards,

Misfit Buzz"

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