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text 2016-09-27 16:14
Book 74/100: Dilemma - A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love by Father Albert Cutie
Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love by Father Albert Cutie (3-Jan-2012) Paperback - Albert Cutie

Around the Year Reading Challenge Item #25: A Book Whose Main Character is in a Profession that Interests You

This feels like two different books smashed into one: the first half is something of a memoir of Cutie's experience in the priesthood, while the second half is essentially his rant about all the things that are wrong with the Catholic church, which he mostly attributes to the celibacy requirement for clergy.

This has a bit more of a "celebrity memoir" feel to it than I usually like, and the writing in the first half feels a little labored, clunky, and obligatory. I didn't realize that Cutie was such a public figure, so his need to tell "his" side of the story and his many references to how the media and those around him perceived him felt a little bit overly defensive to me. If you're looking for a love story, you will be disappointed -- he goes into very little detail about the relationship that was ultimately the last straw in his decision to leave the Catholic church, probably out of respect for his wife, whom he characterizes as a "private" and "shy" person.

The book picked up steam (and interest) for me after Cutie stopped acting as an apologist for why he remained in the Church for so long and instead dissects all that he sees to be wrong with it. There is nothing incredibly new here, although there are a few interesting insights, such as his belief that the Catholic church has been so silent in speaking out against dictatorial governments because it is itself a dictatorship. The idea that all of the Church's problems stem from the celibacy requirement is a bit of a stretch, but he makes a compelling argument for it nonetheless. I liked having the "insider look" behind the veil that is the Catholic hierarchy and appreciated that Cutie's role as an outsider allowed him greater than priests still within the system are afforded. I felt a bit uncomfortable with how Cutie seemed ready to give priests accused of sex abuse the "benefit of the doubt" as well as his conflation of homosexuality and predatory sexual preferences, even though he claims to be an ally to the GLBTQ community.

As a memoir it's a little stiff and wooden, and it's not the greatest treatise on the failings of the Catholic church. But I'm still glad to welcome Cutie among the chorus of dissenters calling for change in an institution that too often does more harm than good to its adherents.

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quote 2016-09-19 19:31
[A]fter a good deal of reflection, I have come to the conclusion that it must be very difficult for one dictatorship to condemn another. When the Vatican stops silencing, condemning, and eliminating those who dissent from certain archaic pastoral practices and even some of their theological impositions, only then will it begin to possess the moral authority necessary to challenge dictatorships to a profound change. Imagine one totalitarian regime telling another, 'Hey, you got to listen to your people!' It just does not work.
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quote 2016-09-16 05:28
Anytime the Vatican or the national Church refers to the media, it is to accuse the media of attacking the Church. What they don't seem to realize is that the Church is not really being attacked, but challenged to be what it claims to be.
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quote 2016-09-14 19:34
Many people dismiss the Church's flaws as 'the humanity of the Church.' But the problem isn't the Church's humanity; it is the Church's inhumane practices and those who are more faithful to the institution than they are to the Gospel message of love. It is those practices that are causing the institution, beloved by so many, to become less credible as a spiritual authority in the world.

Most of us can deal with human error and sin. What we can't deal with is an institution that presents itself as holier than thou and ends up having a lot more skeletons in its closet than it is willing to admit.
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review 2016-07-24 18:44
A journey of sin and redemption
The Passion of Mary-Margaret - Lisa Samson

In her book, The Passion of Mary-Margaret, author Lisa Samson tells an entertaining, uplifting, and encouraging story where the gifts of the Spirit are manifested by the main characters as they lead us to a better understanding of Jesus' Divine Mercy.


The book cover shows a picture of a lighthouse in the background and a religious sister holding a wooden rosary in her left hand, dressed on a white jacket and skirt set. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and the grass is bright green. These symbols of peace, hope, trust, and faith are key elements in the development of the story.


The book begins with Sister Mary-Margaret Fischer writing a letter to her best friend, Sister Angie. She is complaining about Sister Mary-Francis' idea of writing their memoirs for others to benefit learning about their personal trials, tribulations, and blessings. The book gives us a glimpse in the life of religious sisters, including their spiritual needs and temptations.


After the death of Mary-Margaret's mother during childbirth, she was raised by her grandmother and her Aunt Elfi. Then at school age, Mary-Margaret moved permanently into the convent school after her family could no longer provide for her. The school was located in a small island of Chesapeake Bay. She was in fourth grade when she met Jude Keller, the lighthouse keeper's son. Every day Mary-Margaret used to look at the lighthouse and see Jude rowing out on the bay. Even at her young age, she was immediately captivated by his rough personality and physical appearance but decided to keep their relationship as friends.


During her preparation years and mission work, she goes to Georgia, where she has a close encounter with the KKK that leaves her mentally and emotionally devastated. She then returns to the island to recover from that experience and to prepare for her final vows. To her surprise, Jude also returns to the island defeated, broken hearted, ashamed, and to make things worse, he had also gotten sick with syphilis.


Then, one day, Jesus asks for her greatest act of obedience. She is in shock and speechless. How can Jesus ask her to take a detour from their relationship to bring back Jude, the lost sheep, into His flock, now that she is so close to her final vows of complete unity with Him, her beloved. She is the good servant through whom Jesus will change many lives and God's name be glorified.


The reader will be amazed at the unforeseen turns of events as Mary-Margaret searches for Jude and the identity of her “rapist seminarian father,” among other places, at the city mission safe house, located in the middle of ''The Block,'' where sex, drugs, and prostitution are the norm of the day. “The mission” is a place of refuge, healing and redemption for those forgotten by society.


In her search for answers, Mary-Margaret discovers that there are three sides of her conception's story: her family's, her father's and the truth squeezed in between. Was she conceived in love, lust, or was she the result of a rape?


At the end, the truth sets her free, as she reconciles the past with her present and provides for a better future in peace with it all.


The Passion of Mary-Margaret is the journey of sin and redemption walking hand-on-hand the path to salvation through one person understanding and expression of God's greatest gift, Love.


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