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Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  1,186 ratings  ·  181 reviews
A key comic writer of the past three decades has created his most heartfelt and hard-hitting book. Father Joe is Tony Hendra’s inspiring true story of finding faith, friendship, and family through the decades-long influence of a surpassingly wise Benedictine monk named Father Joseph Warrillow.

Like everything human, it started with sex. In 1955, fourteen-year-old Tony found
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Tony Hendra is a British satirist with a Forrest Gump-like lifetime. He performed in college with John Cleese and Graham Chapman (Monty Python fame); was editor of the National Lampoon; was in This is Spinal Tap; attended school with Stephen Hawking and other famous people. This memoir (supposedly) focuses on his spirituality: his early years when he wanted to become a monk, his lifetime straying from his faith; and his return to his faith in his later years – all as the direct result of knowing ...more
I was fully prepared to go to battle with this book. I knew it was about a Catholic kid who found a mentor in a Benedictine (Catholic) monk.

I don’t like Catholics, I don’t like Benedictines and I don’t like monks.

I have to go back a few years. I was in a Methodist church. I had read some very good reviews on this book. I was less cynical. I started to read it and found out that our pastor had just finished it and loved it. That same week, I left the Methodist church in disgust, not so much with
Sandy T
I had never heard of Tony Hendra and didn't realize he was famous until I listened to his narration of this book. But the title intrigued me so I decided to give it a go. What I found though, was that this book titled 'Father Joe' was much less about Father Joe than it was about Tony Hendra. Hendra was ego-centrical, obsessive, self-absorbed, and never missed the chance to do some name dropping. I was fascinated with Father Joe, however. A Benedictine Monk from the age of 17, he knew more about ...more
Leroy Seat
I found this to be a very interesting, moving book. Earlier this year I had read, and was greatly impressed by, Hendra's "The Messiah on Morris Avenue," so I was captivated by this book, which is Hendra's memoirs. I had not read the magazines he wrote for or watched the TV programs he was associated with. Still, it was interesting reading, and Father Joe was certainly a remarkable person.

After finishing the book, I had two thoughts: I wish I could have had a mentor such as Father Joe and I wish
Wow. So, I never had heard of this book and just stumbled upon it. Excellent writing + spiritual odyssey= I'm in love. The first half I listened to on CD, which I highly recommend b/c it's read by Tony Hendra himself, so you get a good idea of how Father Joe sounded, and the jokes Hendra inserts in the text are funnier when he reads them to you...So much loveliness here, so much wisdom. Hendra's journey from burning bright faith as a young boy who wants to be a priest to Cambridge youth who lose ...more
I listented to this book read by author Tony Hendra. I bought the book when it went on sale on because I was curious about Hendra, having read George Carlin's memoir in which Hendra collaborated. I didn't know much more about Hendra except that he was a satirist and connected with the National Lampoon. I also like memoirs that explore spiritual questions, especially those by authors who were raised Catholic.

I have since purchased a hard copy of the book that will go on my shelf of fa
Emilia P
Apparently my papa read this book on a 3-day silent retreat and came home and raved about it. I vaguely remember this and thinking it sounded weird. So I am glad the book on CD found its way to me.

This book was pretty wonderful. It captured the potential for deep, serious, sincere religious reverence of youth in the person of the author as a teenager determined to be a monk, as well as the torture of loss of faith and continued need for penance and peace of the author as an adult. Which is prett
Lisa Butterworth
This was the best book I've ever read in my whole life. Okay, maybe not really, but it was stupendously awesomely fantastically beautifully relevantly perfectly exactly what I needed to read right not. Tony Hendra (probably most famous for his role as the Spinal Tap's Manager) writes a memoir about himself and his relationship with Father Joe, a benedictine monk. It starts when he is fourteen and visits him as a confessor after an affair with a married woman. His love and admiration for Father J ...more
Robert Federline
God is real. He is not an abstract, theoretical being in the clouds. He is ever-present and accessible. Part of His mystery, however, is how He makes Himself present to us.

The title of the book grabbed me, without knowing who either Fr. Joe or the author was. Fr. Joe sounds like a likely candidate for sainthood in the future, although like many saintly people, his memory may just fade, while the ripples from the good he did in his life on earth still echo through the ages.

The author, on the oth
Skylar Burris
This book can’t quite seem to make up its mind as to whether it wants to be a spiritual autobiography or a spiritual biography, and thus it never quite satisfies as either. As the former, it’s a sort of spiritual autobiography in reverse, a story of losing, rather than gaining, faith. Or perhaps it’s more a story of gaining and then losing and then partially re-gaining faith, which is the pattern of most spiritual journeys, I suppose.

The author is not likeable, but nor does he take pains to be.
John Turner
My girlfriend, a pretty devout Catholic, gave me this book, and once I started, I found it slow going--at first. The author discusses his teenage love affair with a British monastery, and I was quickly bored.

But in the second section, he recalls abandoning his plan to become a monk himself, and embarks on a career as a satirist--something right up my alley! Hendra's portrayal of Father Joe, meanwhile, is superb, painting him as a "foundation of faith and love," and Hendra's process of tying his
Magnificent. I was expecting something very different, saccharine at worst and fluffy at best. This thing is gorgeous on so many levels. Hendra is a big name in the American satire world and he tells his story with equal amounts of relish and repentance. His honesty is ravaging or was it ravishing? Anything but shallow and everything but ulterior in motive. Gorgeous writing that parallels a depth of wisdom life has given him. And, of course, the title is catchy.
Subtitle: "The Man Who Saved My Soul" I so beg to differ. What did Fr. Joe do for Tony but send him out into the world to mess up so many lives? His wife, his daughters. Satire may be clever, but his part in the destruction of what others have built is despicable. Satire is easy, chaotic, entropic. This book is going in the garbage. I wouldn't want anyone else to read it.
Cris Ramsdale
I liked the book but not the author. It is spoken of as a book about Father Joe, and it is but it is even more about Tony Hedra who I don't find really likable. I do find Father Joe a fascinating and amazing person who I'd want to emulate in some fashion so I'm thankful to have been introduced to him.
Karla Petersen
Perhaps one of the worst books ever written - so bad that the only reason I'm reviewing it is to make sure no one wastes their time on this one. The writer is self-important and uses his "faith" as a platform to name drop, fabricate, and exaggerate. I wish I had this time back.
Kat Orton
My vicar gave this to me to read, I found the first half a bit hard going, but the second half really made up for it and even found myself bawling my eyes out at the end.
This is an excellent read; whether one is religious or not; deep insights; and not always those that one would expect.
Hardly ever give books a five star rating, but this one gets one. Found it in a pile of second hand books at a Salvation Army store. What a gem! Read it in two days and put reading the ending off for a perfect time of quiet, in order to savor the last few pages. I am so grateful that the author decided to pen his spiritual journey; and with complete honesty of all the bumps in the road, even a trek through atheism. Father Joe was a great monk, but I know that there are many Father Joe's living t ...more
Dan O'Keefe
So far, this is a very well written book. There's one scene in particular, in which the author starts feeling trapped within his own body and feels the entire world falling out from under him, that is one of the most well written accounts of existential angst I've read.

I'm still in the middle of the book; although I haven't been reading it diligently, since I've been working on school stuff as well. However, I hope to finish it by the end of this week and give it a rating.


After finishing the
Honestly, I wasn't excited to read this when it was selected for my book club. I considered skipping it, but thought I'd give it a try...

The book is basically a rundown of Tony Hendra’s religious experiences. He begins when he was younger and he began down a path that was maybe not appropriate (I won't expand so as not to spoil it). As a punishment he was taken to a monastery and met Father Joe. The rest of the book explains his relationship with Joe with some of his life stories thrown in. Afte
Tony Hendra's first visit to Father Joe Warrilow, a Benedictine monk living on the Isle of Wight, is at the insistence of a man who walked in to find young Tony embracing his wife. It's an awkward beginning to any relationship, but Tony and Father Joe will remain close for decades, even as Tony pursues a career in comedy, moves to the U.S., and indulges in all manner of excess and bad behavior. The first half of the book is about Tony's childhood, the immediate effects of meeeting Father Joe, an ...more
I wasn't really sure exactly what to rate this book. I think I would give it 2 1/2 stars if I could. Some parts of the book I really liked, but others, not so much.

This book follows the spiritual journey of the author from almost-a-monk to atheist and back again. When he was a young teenager, Hendra met Father Joe, a Benedictine monk. Hendra was so taken by Father Joe that he decided that he also wanted to be a monk. The first part of the book details Hendra's early thoughts about spirituality a
I decided to get this book out of the library after listening to Hendra's contribution to a MOTH story-telling contest -- a recounting of one of the incidents in this book when he stumbles from the despair of a failed suicide attempt into his first improvisation as the manager in the classic rock doc spoof Spinal Tap.

You know you're in for a strange ride when Hendra begins the book with a monk, then plunges into the farcical yet poignant tale of how he met said monk. Hendra, age 15, was getting
An autobiography of Hendra’s life and how an English Benedictine Monk, Father Joe, influenced him through out his life. I liked the book but there was too much autobiography about Hendra and not enough about Father Joe. The parts he did write about Father Joe were wonderful, capturing the character and bearing of this kindly aging Monk. Father Joe really listened to people and did not judge them in any sense. He knew that with enough love anyone could turn around, no matter what that person had ...more
How can a monk, living off the edge of England on an island in a cloistered monastary have impact on a young man over his lifetime who leaves his Catholic childhood, becomes a satirist in Hollywood and New York, lives the life of the rich and famous, and yet in the end must seek shelter from the monk in order to rebuild his shattered life? You'll have to read the book to find out.

Father Joe is wonderfully described and always portrayed as surprisingly in touch and pertinent. I was at times enthr
John Hamilton
My Dad used to always tell me, "Don't blow your youth!" What he means by this is that the habits and opportunities you develop or ignore in your youth will haunt you the rest of your life. Such is the case with Tony Hendra in this autobiography of sorts about himself and his attachment to a surrogate father-figure in his Catholic priest friend Father Joe.

Mr. Hendra had a considerably less-than-ideal childhood. Though not as tragic as many dysfunctional families, it was certainly enough to warp
Eli Mercer
Interesting read,

Hendra is a unique sort with a thoroughly unique story.

His writing style is a bit choppy and sometimes borders on incoherent, but the feelings run deep in this account of his personal road to salvation, his relationship with Father Joe, and his many extremes along the way.

Hendra has led a very interesting life. The book touches on many personalities and accomplishments in his many years as a satirist and quasi-humorist. He is clearly a talented and intelligent man. But these w
May 03, 2007 Hunter rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nearly everyone (age 15+)
Despite the fact that Father Joe is a Catholic monk, this book is not a book about Catholicism or even Christianity. It is a story of finding faith, losing it, and finding it again. More than that, it is about relationships. Hendra details his deeply personal relationship with Father Joe as it grew and changed over the course of decades and he talks about how that single friendship shaped his relationships with himself and everyone else in his life.

Tony Hendra is a good writer and the story flow
I quite liked this one. Tony Hendra tells about his life in which he starts out as a young teenager getting into trouble, meeting Father Joe who helps straighten him out, and being convinced that he too will become a monk. That lasts until university where he meets up with folks like Graham Chapman and other comedians and realizes what he really wants to do is change the world thru comedy. He ends up in America, writing for National Lampoon and working on some movies (if you recognize him at all ...more
I'm about halfway and I really like this so far. I'm not sure yet what the overall goal / objective of the book is (why did the author write it? what was his point?) but I'm really enjoying the narrative about himself at 14 meeting Father Joe, getting a new perspective on church, religion, the bible, etc. I consider myself agnostic and very curious about different faiths and religions, have a variety of experiences I'm working with, and this book gave me new insight as well. I remember friends i ...more
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Tony Hendra (born 1941) is an English satirist and writer, who has worked mostly in the United States. Educated at St Albans School (where he was a class-mate of Stephen Hawking) and Cambridge University, he was a member of the Cambridge University Footlights revue in 1962, alongside John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Tim Brooke-Taylor.
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“I was awake and this was reality, the new reality of nothing--and worse, of having to continue to exist.” 1 likes
“I'm a little frightened, perhaps. We always are, aren't we? When we have to open a door that's always been there...but we've never opened. [...] I mean frightened by the immensity of what lies beyond the door. A God of Love--infinite and eternal. How could I ever be worthy of that?” 1 likes
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