Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Power and the Glory

Title: The Power and the Glory

Author: Graham Greene

Number of pages: 240

Started: 2 March 2012

Finished: 6 March 2012

Opening words:

Mr Tench went out to look for his ether cylinder: out into the blazing Mexican sun and the bleaching dust. A few buzzards looked down from the roof with shabby indifference: he wasn't carrion yet. A faint feeling of rebellion stirred in Mr Tench's heart, and he wrenched up a piece of the road with splintering fingernails and tossed it feebly up at them. One of them rose and flapped across the town: over the tiny plaza, over the bust of an ex-president, ex-general, ex-human being, over the two stalls which sold mineral water, towards the river and the sea. It wouldn't find anything there: the sharks looked after the carrion on that side. Mr Tench went on across the plaza.

Plot summary:

During a vicious persecution of the clergy in Mexico, a worldly priest, the 'whisky priest', is on the run. With the police closing in, his routes of escape are being shut off, his chances getting fewer. But compassion and humanity force him along the road to his destiny, reluctant to abandon those who need him, and those he cares for.

What I thought:

This tale of a priest on the run from the Mexican authorities was an interesting tale. It, perhaps unsurprisingly, falls into the category of Greene’s Catholic novels and shows the very human side of the church’s priests.

The anonymous “whisky priest” was on the run for years, and despite occasional opportunities to forever escape his life on the run, he could not run away from his sense of duty and need to minister to people despite it putting his life at risk. This might make him sound like a brave man, and yet I don’t think that bravery is what it showed. I think perhaps his Catholicism and priesthood was so much a part of him that no other option was available but to do his duty. He knew his own flaws, but also his vocation – and those two things were clearly very inconsistent parts of his life.

An interesting read that got better as the book progressed and the character unfolded. A thought provoking read.

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