Book: The Senator and the Priest

If you’ve been around any of my blogs for long you already know that I love Andrew Greeley, and especially the Father/Bishop Blackie mysteries. I’m a little bit less excited about his more romantic fiction, but his political fiction is also great. It’s entertaining and it makes some excellent points along the way.

Thus The Senator and the Priest attracted my attention as soon as I first saw it, and soon I took it home to read. I was not disappointed.

Conservatives and Republicans will be disappointed that the good guys are Democrats, though there is one Republican presented favorably. The media is seen mostly in a negative light. Its faults and failings as portrayed are precisely those I see with the media. It’s not a matter so much of political agenda, as it is of a simple profit agenda, combined with a great deal of stupidity.

As always, Greeley’s books are permeated with the gospel message of God’s implacable love (his phrase), and the portrayal of God’s passion for us through sexual passion. One shouldn’t get the idea here that we are dealing with a sort of allegory. I really don’t like fiction that is written with the primary aim of conveying a message. Fiction needs to present a story first, and the message rides in on the story, the less obtrusively the better. But having characters of faith, who attend church, are concerned with their relationship to God, and who experience the presence of God is not message–it’s just a portrayal of human characters who exist in the real world yet are often avoided in fiction in order to avoid a “religious” message.

I would say simply that I wish that the heroic characters of this novel were real people. I suspect there are real people out there like them, and we should be looking for them to serve our nation. Their goals are good. Greeley is a Democrat, and he portrays characters who are Democrats. As an independent myself, I have little faith in either the Democratic or Republican parties at this point, but if one party would clearly embrace a message of civility and campaigns that are issues oriented, I would climb on board quickly. I just suspect such a party would not look much like the current parties, because I believe the combination of issues would change simply by the fact that elections were being fought on issues.

Good fun, good writing, good message. Can you beat that?