Here Comes Everybody: Stories of Church

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9780824516604: Here Comes Everybody: Stories of Church

When Irish literary master James Joyce defined Catholicism as "Here comes everybody, " he reflected an understanding of Catholics that is both humorous and profound. Award-winning journalist Tim Unsworth does the same in this roller coaster ride through a Church that is filled with laughter and tears because it is filled with people. Unsworth's stories are true. (Details have been changed to protect both saints and sinners.) Some are simply hilarious, like the one about Phil, the gas station proprietor with the empty condom machine in the station's men's room, or the monks who got in trouble because they loaned their jeep to Catholic gays who used it to pull a float in the annual Gay Pride parade. But there are serious stories, too, about such unforgettable characters as the priest who sold his chalice to serve the poor, the homeless man who enriched a parish, the mail carrier who shares "the good news, " and a woman dying of AIDS at a Catholic hospice. Unsworth introduces us to business executives who are attempting to introduce Christ into the workplace, and to four women who express their faith in different but profound ways. He brings us into the world of the eccentric and saintly Brother Bill, who fearlessly places himself between warring gangs in the Chicago projects. In a world that pays tribute to dedicated teachers and physicians, Unsworth finds a saloon singer and a disc jockey whose dedication and faith are equally inspiring. They're all here. And more. A circus parade of Christians working out their salvation in mysterious ways - a potpourri of people you will love.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Well-told if slanted journalistic account of Catholicism, by a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter. Following up his collection of interviews with priests (The Last Priests in America, 1991), Unsworth offers 22 brief vignettes gleaned from his years with the Catholic press and dealing mainly with Catholic laypeople. The title is taken from James Joyce and well expresses Unsworth's conviction that the Church embraces all sorts and conditions of humanity. The format, too, is Joycean: Each chapter serves up a story of local, mainly Chicago-set, life, suggestive of Dubliners. We meet Phil, who buys a gas station and finds himself giving the Church a respectable sum each week, which he makes from a condom machine. We encounter a priest who grapples with the stigma of having benefited from psychiatric help, as well as an ex-prostitute, dying of AIDS, who's at last surrounded by love, in a Catholic hospice. We follow a blow-by-blow account of a man's (successful) petition for the annulment of his marriage by the Church courts. There are stories recording the eccentricities of popular piety and the problems arising from the issues of the lesbian and gay movements, as well as from the role of women in the Church. Unsworth is concerned with unsung heros and ordinary folk, and he writes with compassion and humor, though he doesn't always inspire a reader's confidence.'' Many will query his assumption that ``the American Catholic Church reflects the Church throughout the world,'' especially when America turns out to mean Chicago. Moreover, it's clear that Unsworth has axes to grind, and that these concern things central to Catholicism, such as the priesthood, but he nowhere clearly spells out his position, and thus gives the impression of a dated iconoclasm. Engaging, but of interest and appeal mainly to disaffected Catholics. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

Unsworth's essays about the Catholic church are almost Chaucerian, except that the characters in his stories are not linked by a common earthly journey. These portraits range from views of diocesan scandal to tales of individual goodness to the exploits of a few sinners, as well. They'll prove entertaining for religious-minded folk and those not involved in Catholicism because they are stories about ordinary people, their problems, and their poignant moments. As Unsworth says about Buddy Charles, a saloon pianist who is also a father of four and a teacher, "He just doesn't have the kind of faith that bores God." And Unsworth just doesn't have the kind of religious writing that bores readers. His humor and insight will have wide appeal. Denise Perry Donavin

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