Lisa's Reviews > The Power and the Glory

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
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's review
Nov 20, 2008

it was amazing

I recently read The End of the Affair, which also describes the difficulties and graces in believing in God, though this masterpiece focuses more on the forgiveness of sins and our ability to believe in that salvation. Set in a militaristic socialist state in Mexico which has forbidden Catholicism, The Power and the Glory describes the struggles of those who believe, as well as of those who don't.

The book begins with brief vignettes of particular characters (a dentist, a neglected daughter, the son of a dutiful Catholic) as they cross paths with the "whisky priest," the unnamed protagonist. The central part of the book shifts to more of a limited perspective as we see the flaws in this very human priest. At one point, he says of Judas Iscariot, "it seemed to him a good thing that the world's traitor should be made a figure of fun. It was too easy otherwise to idealize him as a man who fought with God--a Prometheus, a noble victim in a hopeless war"--the way he tries not to see himself.

This itinerant, alcoholic, pursued (because he has remained a priest and not renounced his position, like Padre Jose, who marries his housekeeper to survive), he believes in God and (mostly) in the forgiveness of sins, putting himself in harm's way to enable others to go to Confession, and seeking the ability to confess himself. In the end, he acts heroically, and so the book seems more allegory than tale. (I wish I had more time to write a more eloquent review.)
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