Tuesday, 4 December 2012

An Advent Read

Once you accept the existence of God, however you define Him, however you explain your relationship to Him – then you are caught forever with His presence in the centre of all things.”

– Morris West

One of the gifts that my parents passed on to both me and my siblings, was a deep love of the written word. Today you will never find one of our clan far away from a book. Indeed, I am quite lost if I don't have a book on the go. One of my father's favourite novelists was Morris West. One year my father gave me this book, The Clowns of God. I think I read it in two sittings. This book is now a favourite of mine. The intrigue, the suspense, the plot and character development all work together to make it a great read. It has become part of my Advent to read this book and the plot situates itself beautifully in the scriptures the Church invites us to ponder on in these early Advent days.

What makes this book so apposite are the natural and man-made disasters devastating country after country in the world today. Armageddon-type disasters fuelling renewed speculations of the end of the world as we know it! Armageddon, as many call it, is predicted in the Bible. We are warned, not only by the Bible but by our ministers and priests, to always be prepared because no one, except our Lord God, knows when the end of the world will come. Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to John in Revelation 22:12-13 saying: “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Written by Australian novelist and playwright Morris West, The Clowns of God is one of the three books in his best-selling The Vatican Trilogy: The Shoes of the Fisherman, written in 1963, followed by The Clowns of God in 1981 and Lazarus in 1990.

A prolific and brilliant novelist, West wrote over 30 best-selling novels, as well as plays. His books were published in 27 languages and sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. He started writing in 1945, and every new book he wrote after he became an established writer, sold more than a million copies each.

Here is a brief synopsis of The Clowns of God, as seen in the back cover of the latest paperback editions:

“After receiving the vision of the End of the World and a commission to announce that it is imminent, Pope Gregory XVII is forced to abdicate. Is his vision a symptom of insanity, or is he a new prophet, proclaiming the End of Creation? If his vision is true, how does he disseminate his message, and how will the world react to it?

Written during a period of escalating tensions during the Cold War, the impending doom of the world, as described here, no longer seems to be such a threat. However, this book explores themes of faith that are relevant, even if the End isn’t imminent.”

The story of Pope Gregory XVII, who two days before his 65th birthday abdicated his papacy and lived away from the Vatican as an ordinary man named Monsieur Jean-Marie Barette, is entertaining, provocative and full of deep thoughts and insightful information.

It has a lot to teach us about tyrannies, dictatorships, global economy, and politics. Though written in 1981, it provides a good narration on what is happening around us. The musings of the author can be frightening in their accuracy. It will clearly peak your interest, so much so that once you pick it up, it would be hard to put it down.

The publisher’s review also said: “Morris West clearly is a proponent of compassionate Christianity, where the fallibility of man is acknowledged, and forgiveness is the defining characteristic. As world tensions escalate towards the ultimate conflict, the characters struggle to spread a message of hope and faith in an environment that is bereft of both. The final pages provide a surprising climax that touches at the very core of faith.”

I hope you enjoy it. I love the last few chapters, they breathe hope for humanity.

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