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Book 15

  1. Matheson, Richard — I Am Legend (161 pages)
  2. McCarthy, Cormac — No Country for Old Men (307 pages)
  3. Dexter, Gary — Why Not Catch 21?: The Stories Behind the Titles (213 pages)
  4. Ryman, Geoff — 253 (366 pages)
  5. Wyndham, John — The Day of the Triffids (267 pages)
  6. Kurkov, Andrey — Death and the Penguin (228 pages)
  7. Chesterton, G.K. — Orthodoxy (183 pages)
  8. Gibbs, Christopher H., ed. — The Cambridge Companion to Schubert (334 pages)
  9. Sendak, Maurice — Where the Wild Things Are (48 pages — though only 1 page will count towards my tally)
  10. Hurston, Zora Neale — Their Eyes Were Watching God (215 pages)
  11. Clarke, Arthur C. — Rendezvous With Rama (245 pages)
  12. Clarke, Arthur C. — The City and the Stars (246 pages)
  13. Chesterton, G.K. — The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (205 pages)
  14. Tepper, Sheri S. — Beauty (468 pages)
  15. Slawson, Douglas J. — Ambition and Arrogance: Cardinal William O'Connell of Boston and the American Catholic Church (186 pages)

Page count: 3430.

This book was recommended to me by chrishansenhome after he found it such a fascinating read. Since I'm Catholic and lived in Boston for so many years, he felt it ought to be required reading for me. Well, how can I dispute that!

I don't share chrishansenhome's enthusiasm for the subject. I maintain one doesn't need to have an understanding of Catholic history or politics to be a follower. I accepted long ago that my Church is all sorts of flawed, but it's enough of a struggle trying to sort myself out without adding Church history and politics to my list of concerns.

With this attitude, I began by reading quickly, practically skimming. However, Ambition and Arrogance is very well written, and the Boston Cardinal's ascendancy and reign so scandalous, that I kept getting absorbed in what I was reading and slowing down. This is a man who climbed to the top of the American Church by backstabbing his fellow bishops and kissing lots of Roman ass with false words and money. While in office, he misappropriated funds, undermined the American hierarchy at every opportunity, was complicit in the marriages of his ordained nephew and another priest, and seemed more interested in worldly pursuits than in practicing the Catholic faith. He would make a great subject for an opera!

Slawson provides insight into the system that allowed O'Connell to rise to and stay in power. It seems almost inconceivable how the Vatican, though painted as consisting mostly of well intentioned people, could allow this situation to go on unchecked. Most disturbing, perhaps, is how the Church simply allowed the dust to clear afterwards in order to avoid public scandal and a little egg on the face, so that nothing was learned and history was allowed to repeat itself nearly a century later in the form of Cardinal Law and the child abuse scandal.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 6th, 2008 02:55 am (UTC)
Too many people have too much personal power, often protected by their positions or by an organization they belong to or simply by their personal chutzpah. Examples abound: Bill Gates destroying competing companies and once driving a talented competitor to suicide, the guy who locked his 17-year-old daughter in a soundproofed room in the basement and repeatedly raped her for forty years, our president who led us to war against two harmless countries and attempted to include a third, La Mesa mayor Art Madrid not being charged along with his secretary for public drunkenness after smashing his SUV and being unable to stand up without help ... and lots of others. The good news is that toleration of such abuses is diminishing when they come to light.
May. 6th, 2008 08:33 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it. You may have omitted in your review the supposition for his toleration and complicity in his nephew's marriage: the author believes that the nephew threatened to expose O'Connell's homosexual affairs if O'Connell didn't keep quiet about the marriage.
May. 6th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
Well, Slawson conjectured that was a possibility, but I didn't get the sense he really believes extortion/blackmail was necessarily the reason O'Connell kept quiet.
May. 6th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
Well, indeed, but even years and years ago the story of O'Connell being booted out of the Sulpician seminary had the overtones of him being caught in a compromising position with another student. I think it's plausible.

Having been witness to a similar situation with a student in my own seminary, I'm convinced that blackmail was the real reason why O'Connell kept quiet.
May. 6th, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, I forgot. If you've never read that classic "The Cardinal", it's probably a good time to read that one. It's full of pietistic claptrap that contrasts very well with the clergy of today. And, right after that, read "The American Pope" about Cardinal Spellman. I enjoyed it immensely, especially since the Powerhouse (the New York Chancery at 1011 First Avenue) put pressure on the author to excise a page or two detailing Spelly's efforts at finding some Puerto Rican pinga near the South Bronx boxing gyms. A friend of mine was once accosted by Spellman's chauffeur, who offered him half of a $50 bill to get into the limousine with Spellman, who would give him the other half of the $50 for unspecified favours. I have both if you're interested in reading them.

Oh, and rsc and jwg will be here Sunday 25th May for a few days on their way to Africa, You want to have lunch at The Well that day? I'm preaching but will forego the usual at the Vicarage. Will also get hold of Chris W.
May. 6th, 2008 11:17 pm (UTC)
I currently have enough books on my shelf to last me over two years, not counting anything I bring back from my next trip to Boston. I think I should make a dent in those first.

Have confirmed with Robert that I will be there for lunch. Have you mentioned it to FJ!! as well?
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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