Callie's Reviews > Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul

Father Joe by Tony Hendra
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Nov 01, 10

Read from October 19 to November 01, 2010

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 loses touch with his religion to famous comedic writer wherein he abandons God completely, to his return, and all along there is Father Joe, a wise old monk who just keeps loving him and talking him through his long journey out of darkness...

"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...We must listen because we are so often wrong in our certainties. When we pass a motion in the chaotic debating chamber of our heads, it's never completely right , or even, most of the time, half right. The only way to edge closer to the truth is to listen with complete openness, bringing to the process no preconceptions, nothing prepared."

A conversation between Father Joe and Tony Hendra about his chosen vocation of writing satire, poking fun at the Establishment, etc. Father Joe asks him why he does it:

"Well...the truth is, Father Joe, what we really do it for is--attention. We all jostle enedlessly to be on talk shows, get items in columns, or columns in papers, or books on the best-seller list, or green lights for our pilots and our movies, to ... how did you used to put it...to extend our selves out into...other people's awareness.
He considered this, looking out at the Solent.
"Needing attention is a powerful force in the world, isn't it?"
"Absolutely. Most people would think of it as a very natural need. ALmost a right."
"Without God, people find it very hard to know who they are or why the exist. But if others pay attention to them, praise them, write about them, discuss them, they think they've found the answers to both questions."
"If they don't believe in God, you can't blame them."
"True, dear. But it still makes for an empty, unhappy person. ...If the result is that you only have a personality other people shape. If you really exist only in other people's minds."
"I think you've just described celebrity."
"I've just described pride, dear."
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