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Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,790 ratings  ·  237 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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Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,790 ratings  ·  237 reviews

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Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
- Chogyam Trungpa

- George Gurdjieff

Now that I’m at the end of this fabulous memoir I just have to take a time-out to warmly recommend it to GR readers.

There are two roads we can take in this life: the road of the spirit, or the way of the world.

Father Joe represents the way of the spirit.

Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it did not like it
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
Lisa Butterworth
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Leroy Seat
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Emilia P
Oct 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: churrrch, real-books
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
Dec 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Robert Federline
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 28, 2007 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. ...more
May 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Karla Petersen
Apr 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent read; whether one is religious or not; deep insights; and not always those that one would expect.
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
John Turner
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Eva Nickelson
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was an interesting tale which started strong and ended rather weakly. The only constant source of engaging material was the bits which featured Fr Joe. Hendra himself has led a rather different lifestyle, and while I am glad that he had someone like Fr Joe who could help him through some of the rough spots, I just got more and more angry at him. In his credits, he mentions his second wife and their young children, but nothing about his two children from his first marriage. He is angry that ...more
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is almost a cross between a Monty Python movie and Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua. The author's own spiritual journey is vividly detailed, yet with the piety of a British sitcom. The author is upfront with his foibles and shortcomings; which only allows the stark contrast of the mercy he receives and the redemption he pursues.

The main subject of the book is looked upon fondly by the author and for good reason. Despite the author running the gamut of pursuing a vocation in the monaster
Jan 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: waste-of-time
one star for father Joe ..... I wish there is a zero star on goodreads.

It was a struggle to finish this book!the only good thing this book has is Father Joe. Very disappointing, I advice anyone to stay far away from this as possible. I hated Tony throughout the book, he is unlikeable, selfish, obsessive, and shady. I found him to be very creepy.
His soul was never saved in my opinion, he was just using Father Joe as an excuse to write this book and drop famous people name he met through out the
Jul 31, 2010 rated it liked it
This book was interesting but not riveting. Hendra's return to the Catholic faith of his English boyhood is assisted by his confessor, Father Joe, a monk living in England. While away from practicing his faith, I felt that Hendra missed the ceremony of the Catholic services as much as anything else about Catholicism, and I don't think that's a good motive for returning to the church. ...more
Jeremy Hatfield
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
I'm no Catholic, and I'm no liberal, but despite all this, I found this book to be a fairly worthwhile read, if only because of Father Warrilow's example of selfless love towards a really conceited soul. ...more
Mike Nelson
Nov 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
The start of the book reads like a high school English student trying to impress his teacher with his vocabulary. Painful. There are bits and pieces of wisdom and sound teachings, but I never felt an attachment to Tony.
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: listened
Father Joe is a wonderful (real) character. Tony Hendra sounds nsn.
Kat Orton
May 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio-version
I wanted more info on Father Joe, less on Hendra.
Erik Bresnahan
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My in-laws insisted that I read this book. Seeing that it was written by Tony Hendra, I readily agreed. As soon as I could, I dove right into the story, but it was not the type of tale that is characteristic of Henra and his sharp, sardonic wit.

Growing up on a steady diet of Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, and Jim Belushi’s style of Saturday Night Live, as well as the edgy comedic style of National Lampoon, I was certain that Father Joe was going to be a memoir that both pokes fun and shines a light
Becky White
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
This was one of the most moving and eloquent memoirs that I have ever read. I was aware of Tony Hendra as a former editor of National Lampoon, actor in "Spinal Tap" and raconteur of the 60's & 70's. So, although it came highly recommended, I was not really expecting much. This book was not a biography of Father Joseph Warrilow, or even a memoir of Tony's relationship with him, as it is a detailed account of Tony's spiritual journey and Father Joe's constancy as a friend and a spiritual father. 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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But the curtain doesn't fall there. The next morning at dawn they discover the rock has been rolled back. The tomb is empty, the body's gone! A missing corpse? Great stuff. A whisper of comedy. Now a touch of farce as Mary Magdalen and the guys chase frantically around looking for help, or the corpse, when suddenly, out of nowhere, up it pops—alive!

Of course it's Jesus, who's done the impossible and beaten death.

And they're so amazed they think he's the gardener! It's a payoff way beyond the Hollywood ending: all the flooding emotion and uplift of a tragedy followed by all the bubbling joy and optimism of a comedy.

Is that possible? Not just to live happily ever after but to die—and still live happily ever after? It's the most audacious claim of Christianity, the one element that marks the brand indelibly, that trumps the claims of all other major faiths.”
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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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