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Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  1,438 Ratings  ·  198 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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 18th 2004 by Random House (first published January 1st 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,192)
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Sep 21, 2009 Noel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
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
Jan 09, 2008 Tung rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
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
Leroy Seat
Oct 27, 2015 Leroy Seat rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Nov 01, 2010 Callie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 22, 2010 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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
Oct 28, 2009 Emilia P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: real-books, churrrch
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
Sep 18, 2014 Rosalind rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 06, 2013 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: intellectua, spiritua
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.
Robert Federline
Jul 15, 2014 Robert Federline rated it really liked it
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
May 20, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent read; whether one is religious or not; deep insights; and not always those that one would expect.
Oct 08, 2016 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable story of a life with learning and reflection along the way, led by a mild mannered Catholic monk. While I am not a Catholic, I liked the description of the thought processes involved in choosing a monastic life, then being denied. Hendra isn’t afraid to describe in detail. The “alternative calling” in the middle of the book was really out of left field and not explained in as much depth. Or at least that explanation didn’t feel complete – it was too different from expectations. Maybe t ...more
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
Jul 02, 2014 John Turner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 27, 2015 Beverly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first heard of Tony Hendra through his daughter's book, in which she alleges that he sexually abused her as a child. Her revelations were a response to the book at hand, a confessional that she claims omits a devastating story of abuse. Jessica Hendra's charges have been impossible to settle in the court of public opinion. In any case, I bought "Father Joe" out of curiosity, and then set it aside for several years. By the time I picked it up a couple of weeks ago, I'd forgotten why I bought it ...more
May 27, 2013 Jill rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 28, 2007 Cris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Martin Egan
Apr 14, 2015 Martin Egan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the first half about Tony Hendra's 1950's catholic experiences in Hertfordshire. It's a pretty full on spiritual awakening including psychosexually. However, I then leaned about the accusations his daughter has made and read about his excessive hedonistic years in his 30's and wanted to stop reading. I persisted though and was presently surprised. If i'm honest what I reveled in the most is what that book was intended to convey - the pure, awakened lived ministry of Fr Joe. A worldly m ...more
Karla Petersen
Apr 19, 2011 Karla Petersen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 15, 2013 Kat Orton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
02/15: On Audible to listen to as I color, my favorite way to pray lately… Divine Mercy Chaplet, etc. all while coloring. This is an EXCELLENT read.

Amazon Book Description:
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
Feb 03, 2016 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came across this book in my cousin's "books to donate" pile and took it along with a couple others to read, since I have some extra time on my hands these days. When I asked her if she liked it, she said she hadn't read it and that our uncle had given it to her a while back after he'd read it.

At times, this book got a little too self-indulgent, but I do think everything in it was overall needed in order to paint the picture he did. I really appreciated the character development of Father Joe,
Jan 18, 2015 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: made-of-fail

Father Nope.

103 pages in and I'm still trapped in the depths of Tony Hendra's ass. Poor Father Joe, a mere pawn in Hendra's narcissistic ramblings.

I was now in the English equivalent of high school, and was still reading books, as I've painstakingly described to you since my accounts began at the age of 12. One afternoon, I read a novel that Father Joe advised I read and it was really quite thought provoking. Another book the other priest told me to read as well was very dry, but I'd never tell
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
Dec 01, 2011 Dawn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 07, 2011 George rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 29, 2011 Gretchen rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club, memoir
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
Jun 09, 2010 Persephone rated it liked it
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
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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'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?” 2 likes
“The only way to know God, the only way to know the other, is to listen. Listening is reaching out into that unknown other self, surmounting your walls and theirs; listening is the beginning of understanding, the first exercise of love.

None of us listen enough, do we, dear? We only listen to a fraction of what people say. It's a wonderfully useful thing to do. You almost always hear something you didn't expect.
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