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Faith: A Novel (P.S.) by Jennifer Haigh
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Faith: A Novel (P.S.) (edition 2012)

by Jennifer Haigh

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5715917,406 (3.98)12
Member:wendyrs
Title:Faith: A Novel (P.S.)
Authors:Jennifer Haigh
Info:Harper Perennial (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
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Faith by Jennifer Haigh

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» See also 12 mentions

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The Dinosaur Feather. S. J. Gazan. 2008. This Danish mystery is not a great one, but reading about Danish academia and government social services is fascinating. Ana Bella Nor is a single mother who is finishing up her dissertation and is within weeks of taking her oral examination when her thesis advisor is murdered. Suspects are numerous and Ana is one of the numbered. However she eventually begins to work with the detective in charge to identify the murderer. Suspects include Ana’s office mate who belongs to a strange cross dressing group and the wife. A Canadian professor who believes that Ana and the rest of the scientific world is incorrect in thinking that birds evolved from dinosaurs. Before the murderer is identified we learn more than we need to know about the bird/dinosaur evolution controversy. However there are worthwhile lessons the devastating effects of family secrets and loyalty. ( )
  judithrs | Aug 17, 2014 |
Sheila grew up in a respectable Irish-American household near Boston. Her older half brother even became a priest, a great source of pride for her mother, although her father, now falling into dementia after a lifetime of alcoholism, has never had much respect for the Church. Then her brother is accused of molesting a child.

Jennifer Haigh is good at bringing out the nuance of situations and creating complex characters. In this she reminds me of Tom Perrotta; she never takes the expected path. In Faith she's taken a controversial topic that everyone has strong opinions about and tells a story, not of monsters and victims, but of damaged, complicated people with histories and reasons. And all without having written anything that feels exploitative. [Faith] is also a vivid picture of a specific place and culture. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Jul 25, 2014 |
I had not wanted to read this book, thinking it could not add to the narrative already out there about the scandal in the Church involving pedophile priests. Was I ever wrong! I was deeply affected by this novel. This is a magnificent exposé of that moment in time, of the condemned and the wrongly condemned, of the dogma and the crises affecting the churches, everywhere, because of the vows a priest must make. It is a book that shines a spotlight on the fact that although they are the conduit to G-d, they are also humans, humans subject to all the frailties and possible commissions of sin they are heir to, humans that G-d, in his infinite wisdom will forgive (if you believe), as G-d forgives the sinner.
I couldn’t stop listening to the audio; I was so taken by Father Art and the way in which he handled the abuse he faced, the anger exhibited toward him, the spewed vitriol. He contended with his sudden discharge from the only life he had known since boyhood, with such a quiet grace, with such a forgiving outlook and compassionate demeanor, always faithful to his beliefs. His behavior contrasted sharply with the harsh judgment passed upon him by the people who jumped to conclusions, friends and worshipers who condemned him and the entire Catholic Church, for the sins of a few, without even investigating the facts.
Were the accused priests guilty? Certainly many were, but the innocent were judged to be guilty right along with them, because suddenly, there was zero tolerance once the crime was publicized and knowledge of it became widespread; the issue went from being ignored, hidden in a closet for years, to appearing on the front page of all major and minor newspapers, and it became the main topic of discussion for all the talking heads on television and radio, as well.
As I read the book, I kept thinking, let he who is without sin throw the first stone! It was an appalling crime and it horrified everyone as it should have, but it should not have taken down the unblemished priest simply because an accusation was made. A mistake in judgment should not have, therefore, been compounded by a rush to judgment. Of course, ultimately, it was the cover-up by the church, adding to the crimes already committed, that led to the over-reactions. The world watched the confessions of troubled adults who were shaped by their haunted childhoods, haunted because they were corrupted by men of G-d. Was their mistreatment the precursor of their own abusive behavior toward others? How pervasive was this pedophilia issue? I was stunned by the betrayals of family members, their lack of trust because of the shame they faced, stunned by the judgments that were made condemning those accused as guilty when those that judged them were sometimes just as guilty of committing great sins. They seemed heartless, and blind to the truth, in their single-minded attempt to wipe out the scourge of the errant priest. Would the Church ever regain its power, its reputation? Would a priest ever again be respected by the parishioners in the same unquestioning manner?
The author has crafted a tale which neither forgives nor ignores the ignominy of the shamed priest, but she also paints a beautiful image of the humanity and benevolence of other priests, those priests who truly connected with their G-d and their calling. She also explored the challenges their vows forced them to face, as well as some of the reasons that a priest might choose that wayward path.
After reading this, the reader will wonder, were some priests wrongly accused in the mania and hysteria that erupted when the world learned of the conspiracy to conceal the wrongdoing of some men of the cloth? How widespread and pervasive was the crime? This is a story about the failure of the Church and some of its priests, certainly only a minority; it is a heartbreaking story of abuse, a tragic tale of dysfunction, injustice, lies and greed, but it is also a story of hope. There is a beauty and sincerity within the dedicated men of the cloth that shines through. Haigh brings a human touch to the scandal of the Catholic Church, a scandal that rocked the nation and forced formerly devout people to question their religion and their places of worship, their relatives and their friends. Liars and scammers, those who were seeking undeserved financial reward were bound to mix themselves into the fury for their own personal gain, regardless of the innocents they hurt in the process. The moral is this: all priests should not have to dwell under the same umbrella as those that violated the very code of decency demanded by their vows! ( )
  thewanderingjew | Jun 12, 2014 |
Good book, not great. Found it painfully slow to get into. Didn't really start enjoying it until more than halfway through. At times the narration felt awkward and confusing. I did think the story itself which revolved around the priest was a good one and well thought out. I think that along with Baker Towers, this is a book I will probably not remember much about in a couple of weeks. ( )
  flippinpages | May 27, 2014 |
Arthur ‘Art’ Breen, a popular Catholic priest in a parish outside Boston, is accused of molesting 8-year-old Aidan Conlon, a boy he has befriended and taken on outings. ( )
  TonySandel2 | Mar 19, 2014 |
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Epigraph
It's a fight you'll never win
And now you bow your head in shame
For a sin no one forgives

-- Dropkick Murphys, "This Is Your Life"

He lives for God, who lives by the Rule. -- St. Benedict
Dedication
For Jimmy, my first friend
First words
Here is a story my mother has never told me.
Quotations
Love to marriage to home and family: connect those dots, and you get the approximate shape of most people's lives. Take them away, and you lose any hope for connection. You give up your place in the world.
In his view, no eight-year-old has mastered the cheap ruses of adulthood. When kids lie, they don't want to be believed; their deepest wish is to be known and understood. For my brother this is a point of faith; a child will tell the truth if he feels safe and accepted. All you have to do is gain his trust.
It was a thing I had always known but until recently had forgotten: that faith is a decision. In its most basic form, it is a choice.
As always, her worries seemed larger at night. It happens to us all, Father Art had once told her. The dark night of the soul.
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Sheila McGann is estranged from her complicated family. But when her older brother Art, pastor of a large suburban parish, finds himself at the center of a scandal, Sheila returns to Boston, ready to fight for him. Her strict mother lives in a state of angry denial; her younger brother Mike has already convicted his brother in his heart. But most disturbing of all is Art himself, who persistently dodges Sheila's questions and refuses to defend himself.… (more)

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