The Unspeakable tells the story of two men, both priests, whose strange and divergent paths collide. Peter Whitmore, an administrator for the Diocese of St. Paul, is asked to investigate and ultimately discredit a priest who, it is rumored, possesses a remarkable power -- the power to heal.
The priest in question, Jim Marbury, is no stranger to Whitmore. He is an old friend, a seminary roommate, and a spiritual mentor whom Whitmore has not seen in more than twenty years. But much has changed. Always somewhat unconventional, Marbury is now mute, speaking only in sign language, his voice reportedly stolen by God on a trip that he took through western Pennsylvania. On that same journey, in a snowstorm that nobody can verify, Marbury encountered a terrible car accident and a family who changed his life irrevocably.
Marbury gets drawn into a world he did not expect -- a world where the past repeats itself, where the mystical is not in a book but alive and breathing. And now Whitmore, his old friend, has to decide for himself which events are really the hand of God and which are the delusions of Marbury gone mad.
"Suspenseful... The characters, especially Whitmore, are originally vivid..." --Publishers Weekly.
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Charles Laird Calia was born in Michigan and grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His work has been published in various magazines and newspapers. He lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut, with his wife and daughter.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
I'm sitting in the church where it all began. For several months now I have been receiving mysterious accounts, reports scribbled anonymously on the backs of old church programs, flyers, pages torn from hymnals, and then sent to me through the Archdiocese of St. Paul. Their author is unknown to me. But the reports are all similar. They show one person or another being healed, the lowly, the sick, the afflicted, not by physicians or hospitals but by one man. A priest.
The individual in question, Jim Marbury, possesses no special or mystical abilities that I'm aware of. He cannot read minds, nor can he levitate like some carnival magic act. He cannot raise himself from the dead, not even with the power of God, nor can he calm the storms on Lake Minnetonka or the Sea of Galilee. He knows this; at least, I believe he knows this despite suggestions to the contrary. Many in his congregation actually believe they have been healed of one malady or another by Marbury. Most of these healings have been minor, psychological at best, curing such things as colds and lumbago. But a few of them have defied all known science. At least they claim to.
These healings, always performed at night with a small prayer service, have few of the benefits that modern technology can provide. No cameras are there to record the events. No microphones, no skeptical doctors to perform examinations before and after, nothing but a shared experience. Even the reports that I've received have that fast, almost staccato writing, as though the author was swept in as well, believing what he or she knows is unbelievable. Not that knowing what to believe is always so easy. The real story is often difficult to track down. Documents fade. Witnesses forget or embellish. People up and vanish. My own attempts at finding firsthand the participants in these healings have largely been futile. Part of this I blame on the nature of this congregation, a special voice- and hearing-impaired church located in South Minneapolis. Many of the members are poor, often castoffs from the mainstream church, and they seem to exist on the fringes of the rest of society. Apartments aren't always there. Phone numbers are faked or just don't exist. As for church records, they haven't been updated in years.
Some folks drift off as well. The healed deaf girl, for one, off to Montana or some such place, and the truth along with her. Forget about finding her at school or tracking down her parents. They're gone. None of this surprised Marbury, who knew the conditions here when he accepted the call, or rather begged for it once that he knew that it was available. Several priests have come and gone in the last two years alone, each one telling me exactly how difficult it was to minister. The church was often empty or sparsely attended, and those that did show up sat glassy-eyed and uninterested. Donations, always meager, sunk to new lows. Bills were left unpaid. Heat was turned down in the winter, doors left open in the summer to save on air conditioning. But worse, the gospel began to sound like reading the local newspaper, void of hope, a droning repetition for people that already knew enough of repetition.
And then Marbury arrived.
I began receiving these reports soon after. And not just stories about healings but other stories as well. Stories about people working together, holding baking contests to raise money, and joining painting crews for much needed repairs. Stories too of people praying together, and building something here that before never existed. A real community.
Marbury scoffed when I asked him if he was responsible, not just for the healings, but for it all.
"I'm just a pipeline," he said, "not the fuel. God's that."
He spoke in sign language. The language of his church.
"What about the deaf girl?"
"Folks get better. What can I say, Peter?"
And that's how it began.
Copyright (c) 1998 by Charles Laird Calia.
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Book Description Harper Perennial. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0688167101 1998 first edition Quill paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 5996
Book Description Harper Perennial, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0688167101
Book Description Harper Perennial, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0688167101