Strange Gods: A Novel

As an Episcopalian I am but a schism away from being Catholic.

A bit more male chromosome and a bit less wandering eye might have left my court tennis predecessor, Henry VIII, more time to work on his serve instead of starting the Church of England.

But there is another reason I am a near-Catholic. My wife and children are. That was the deal when we got married lest the nicer church or the better hour be withheld.

Monsignor John F. Myslinski – now Jack but then Father John – was one of their priests and he has written a book along with Father Peter J. Daly about the church they both love even as they find fault.

Spoiler Alert: Strange Gods: A Novel About Faith, Murder, Sin and Redemption is the title but be careful when you click. Amazon gives away more than I would in its summary. But you will have to use this link because somehow there is another book that answers to the name Strange Gods.

The priests, as a few of us have begun referring to them, chose to write a novel to illustrate their concerns. A wise decision in my view because who would have read “An Inside Account of the Top 25 Things Wrong with The Catholic Church and What You Can Do About Them.”

Few of their concerns will come as surprises though I did have to look up the meaning of clericalism.

The surprise is the depth of the problems faced by the church. As one blurbist said, “hard to believe only the murders are fiction and everything else in this compelling novel is true.”

Yes there are murders.

“The Archbishop of New York fell down dead. Michael Manning was the sixth cardinal among the international Catholic clergy to die under violent and suspicious circumstances. Somebody is killing cardinals. But what is going on and why?”

That will not spoil the story for long because it is a who-done-it, though more importantly a why-did-they.

“With the latest death, the Vatican is forced to act. The Church pulls Nate Condon, a young New York attorney, into the investigation. As the history of the crimes unfolds, we are drawn inside the magnificent city of Rome, her ancient secrets, and the most privileged inner sanctums of the Catholic hierarchy.”

Thank you for that Amazon, but I won’t use rest because it is a shame to wreck an excellent story.

Be prepared for the “can’t-put-it-down-one-sitting-reading” because Strange Gods is nearly 400 pages long. 2000 years of people using an institution for their own advantage takes some time to explain.

“Strange Gods was written by two priests with firsthand knowledge of the degree to which the Church will go to cover up financial corruption, abuse of power, sexual scandal, and evil. With an eye on the holiness and grace of ordinary people who keep the Church alive and want to change her future, Strange Gods promises is an exciting, engaging and thought-provoking read.”

I hear there is a movie deal. I will go see that too, but it will be hard to be as good as the book.

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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