The Bishop’s Man

The Bishop’s Man

Written by Linden MacIntyreLinden  MacIntyre Author Alert Category: Fiction
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Publisher: Random House Canada
ISBN: 978-0-307-35706-9 (0-307-35706-6)

Pub Date: July 28, 2009
Price: $32.00

The Bishop’s Man was not what I expected.  It was not full of gut-churning details about abuse perpetrated by priests, but rather a story of how one very conflicted man tries to do the right thing while working for a tyrannical system that is interested only in saving itself.

Sounds pretty cut and dried, but it’s not.

Essentially, the book is a large character study.  First, of the main character, the Bishop’s man, secondly of Newfoundland and the East Coast communities most affected by the scandals of the Catholic church. It makes you look and think beyond the sensational headlines and question why this horror happened, and continues to happen.

MacIntyre’s writing is sparse and clean; it’s very straightforwardness lends itself perfectly to the telling of this story.  You never forget that you’re an observer, you never get too emotionally involved.

That’s not to say I didn’t sympathize or agonize with/for the people in the story, but it was from a point of observation — I didn’t jump too readily to general assumptions about what was going on.

The message in this book is that life is complicated, there are no easy answers and that the men placed in such powerful positions are, in the end, just men, not Gods, and that accountability is highly personal.

I would highly recommend this book.  It sure opened my eyes to what some men choose to  sacrifice in order to serve a God who may or may not exist, and what they choose to tell themselves when that faith, naturally, begins to waver.

It’s no bloody wonder alcoholism is so rampant in Catholic communities.