Friday, April 24, 2009


I just finished Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory. Tremendous book. I don't know what to say beyond that, however. This is one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, even though the Modern Library doesn't list it as such. That's OK, of course, "Opinions are like assholes: everyone has one" (so says my dad).

Currently I'm reading Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. This book has to be a slow read for me, because of its intensity and subject matter. It makes me stand back and question how much I really love God. And wonder at how much I love myself. It also makes me chuckle at the controversy I heard concerning the book and this great woman. So let me just say it now: If Blessed Mother Teresa tweren't a Christian, then you and I got no hope. Fortunately for you and I, we got hope. And our hope is in the great mercy of God that is poured out on us, even in the darkest holes of India. As Fr. Cantalamessa recently said of St. Francis, I would also say of Blessed Mother Teresa (paraphrased): We do not cultivate St. Francis's or Blessed Mother Teresa's charism by looking at them, but by looking at Christ through their eyes. Who did he see when he looked upon our Lord? Who did she see? What would happen to our world if we began to see Jesus in the same way?

Maybe more on these books later.


kkollwitz said...

The Power and the Glory is great indeed, and every time I think about it, which must be weekly, I also think how Catholic it is in its worldview, not just the plot.

BTW, P&G is tied into Greene's conversion story.

Another book I lump in with P&G is the Moviegoer by Walker Percy, although the plots have nothing in common, they are very similar to me in how they reflect on what a Christian should do with his life.

Which reminds me of J.F. Powers' Morte D'Urban, I just read this in 2009. It won the National Book Award in 1963 (the year after the Moviegoer, IIRC). It's about a priest in the Midwest...started slow, but I became drawn in.

I don't read much fiction...but sometimes in order to tell great truth, you have to make up a story. Jesus would agree with me, I think.

And golly, I read Come Be My Light in 2008. A great, moving book, which showed me the importance of Christian humility and patience.

Scott Lyons said...

Christian, thanks for the book suggestions. I'll be checking them out, if my county's library system has them. Otherwise I'll have to get serious with them and actually request the county get the book. (Not much of a Catholic readership in rural North Carolina.)

I love fiction, but it seems until last year I hadn't read a good, new (to me) story for ages. So since I've recently stumbled into a mine of new authors, I usually have a fiction and non-fiction work I read simultaneously. It's terribly exciting discovering new books worth reading.

kkollwitz said...

You might like these little commentaries on some of the Brideshead characters by one of our parish priests:

kkollwitz said...

Offhand, a couple other Catholic-sensibility books: A Canticle for Leibowitz, and The Taking, by Dean Koontz. The latter will almost certainly be in your library system.

By the way, my public library will borrow a book for me by searching nationally for it....yours is probably the same.

Also, a get-around on the cost of books is to buy used on Amazon, shipping is fixed at $4. I've bought tons of used paperbacks from them, many are like new.

Dan said...

Hey there Scott,

I really appreciate the recommendation for Come Be My Light. I picked it up yesterday, and went straight to the chapter about the Thirst of Christ Crucified, or something to that effect. Powerful stuff, indeed, and I will certainly be excerpting some of her writing in my own...your recommendation is an answer to the prayer I've prayed that I would read the "right stuff," so thank you. I'd enjoy your thoughts on the Power and the Glory, when you have time, which I suspect is at a premium, and other demands take precedence.

I too chuckled at the controversy a year or so ago. Chesterton wrote a very pithy line in The Everlasting Man: "The worst judge [of Christianity] of all is the man now most ready with his judgments; the ill-educated Christian turning gradually into the ill-tempered agnostic, entangled in the end of a feud of which he never understood the beginning, blighted with a sort of hereditary boredom with he knows not what, and already weary of hearing what he has never heard." It's clear that those who critique Mother Theresa's faith are those who are already weary of hearing what they have never heard, and they have never understood Christianity, at all. Sad for them!

kkollwitz said...

Speaking of Mother T, she's been a big influence in my life:

"One night I was watching TV; that nun, Mother Teresa (M.T.), was on Leno. I knew she'd won a Nobel prize, took care of scabby people all day, and looked grim as cancer."