Thursday, April 25, 2013


     Frighteningly realistic and suspenseful, Fatherless is the first book in what has been perfectly labeled as “the American tragedy in trilogy.”  It immediately grabbed my attention and kept me intrigued throughout.  I know it’s good when I don’t want to get to the end of the first book before the next one is available and ready to be read.
     I can empathize with and at the same time be horrified by many of the decisions we make as Christians in the world today when it comes to our families, our friends, our workplace, our faith community.  It’s all-too-easy to get lost on that slippery slope of moral relativity rather than seeking the Gospel Truth, which doesn’t change according to modern opinion or current trends.    
      The stories powerfully illustrate and verify the authenticity of many descriptions and assessments included about the mainstream media, corporate America, the popular culture, and watered down Catholic teachings most prominent in our times.  The other main characters are mostly laity with families of their own to care for and shepherd.  The people in these novels vary quite a bit when it comes to their knowledge of Church teachings (or lack thereof), their devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, their practice of the faith, and the life choices they make as a result.    
     Some of the family struggles and situations are familiar enough to make me uncomfortable and reflective.  Having two parents who were cradle Catholics and practiced the faith throughout their lives while also knowing a number of people who have fallen away from the Church for a variety of reasons helped me identify with a number of the characters and families in Fatherless.  My father used to be a high-level sales executive for major pharmaceutical corporation, so the ethical, moral, and faith questions raised in this book through many of the situations and characters really hit home. 
     John Sweeney, one of the main characters and narrators who serves as a primary link connecting the many families in these books, is a Roman Catholic priest.  Fr. Sweeney is young, fresh out of seminary, and in many ways inexperienced in pastoral care at the start of the first book, but this adds quite a bit of interest and insight into the life of the consecrated religious, particularly priests, and the unique opportunities and challenges they face in their vocation to shepherd the flock entrusted to their care.  A major crisis of faith inspires him to take some time away to discern if the vocation he’s chosen is really where God wants and needs him to be.
     When I read that the author Brian J. Gail is a former semi-pro athlete, Madison Ave. ad man, and Fortune 500 senior executive, I was completely blown away that a man so steeped in the culture of corporate America, mainstream media, and all that comes with it has been incredibly vulnerable, honest, and even critical of the world he has been a part of for so long, even under the veil of fiction. 
     In some ways, I feel that these books tell part of my dad’s life story.  They have given me a much deeper insight into the professional and personal challenges he and countless others in his generation (and the following one) struggle with.  Brian J. Gail gives voice to the questions, concerns, and torments whirling about in the hearts of many men and women of faith.  Clearly, this author is someone who understands companies that regularly tempt people to compromise their values and/or change them under pressure.
     So much of what’s in these pages has actually happened, is happening now, and/or will take place in the not-too-distant future.  The truth pharmaceutical companies hide about the side effects of their products, the lies promoted and promulgated through advertising, the media, and government, along with the permanent scars left by a rampant culture of death that embraces everything from abortion to euthanasia as convenient, revolutionary, advanced, and scariest of all they tout these scientific discoveries and technologies as being: humane, moral, and ethical.  This skewed view of Creation and man’s manipulation of what God has made shows that the interconnectedness of people, their influence on others, and their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ (or lack thereof) are of greater consequence in time and eternity than appears at first glance. 
     Reading these novels has reminded me that we have so many opportunities to do the right thing, to choose life, to bring about healing where there is great pain, possibly even suffering that we have unintentionally caused.  What seems like the end of a relationship, a calling, a career, a dream can so often be a new beginning.      
     This trilogy raises some vital questions: Who determines our worth?  Who do we trust and what does that say about who we are and what matters most to us?  Who do we turn to for answers, guidance, and advice?
     Depending on the answers to those questions and the choices made because of them we have a responsibility and accountability to others and to God.  Our choices have consequences for others as well as ourselves.  Are we true to ourselves or are we more devoted to discovering and upholding Truth=God?
     What’s worth putting everything on the line for?  No need to answer with words.  The choices we make and actions we take show clearly what or whom we value above everything and everyone else.  What example, what values, what legacy are you leaving by the way you live your life?  What impact is it having on those around you?  What impact will it have on the generations to come?
     For more information about Fatherless, to purchase a copy of this book (paperback or Kindle), or read more about the author, or "the American tragedy in Trilogy," check out this website. 
     This post is linked to the May 2013 issue of New Evangelists Monthly.  
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