Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What we are reading this month.

My Catholic Women's Book club is reading Fr. Joe by Tony Hendra as its book of the month. Here is a short editorial review from Publishers Weekly:

"When he was 14, Hendra had an affair with a married woman. One afternoon, her husband, a devout Roman Catholic, discovered the two in each other's arms. The husband, acting more out of concern for Hendra's soul than out of anger, arranged for the teenager to spend several weeks under the tutelage of Father Joe at a Benedictine abbey in England. Expecting cruel treatment similar to that handed out by the monks in his Catholic elementary school, Hendra was surprised to meet instead a rotund, knobby-kneed confessor whose thoughtful, open manner changed Hendra's life forever. As Hendra reveals in this graceful, humorous tale, Father Joe acted not only as a confessor, but also as a friend and as the guiding spirit of Hendra's life (the author is now married with three children). Under the influence of Father Joe, Hendra passionately decided to follow the monastic life. At every turn, he met Father Joe's gentle insistence that he wasn't yet ready to enter the monastery. At Cambridge, Hendra discovered a new passion-comedy-and pursued it as ardently as he'd pursued religion. Hendra writes well (he spent several years as the head writer at National Lampoon), chronicling the failure of his first marriage, his descent into substance abuse, his self-hatred and his incessant search for meaning in compelling prose and with clear-eyed honesty. Throughout Hendra's life, Father Joe stands by his side, like a gentle shepherd leading a lost sheep back to a place where it can graze safely."


Chad said...

It's a really good book, but it'd be even better if Hendra left out a few rants about how the Church needs to get with the times and accept things our culture thinks are OK.

Anonymous said...

I think the same applies to Father Joe. I was never quite sure if he was an orthodox priest who just had a very gentle manner of correcting the sinner, or if in fact he was one of the 1970s "live and let live" types.

Georgie Tamayo Clemens said...

yeah, that is the main thing that bothers me about the book. Even so, one wins more souls by directing as Fr. Joe does. I'm sure there were many a day that he wanted to shake Hendra by the shoulders and tell him to straighten up, but instead resisted for fear of losing him. Although, as a mom, I would have smacked him around a few times for behaving like an animal!!! HA!