Colm Toibin writes brilliantly about successive Holy Weeks spent in Poland, Seville, Bavaria, Rome, and the Balkans; forays into post-Communist Catholic Lithuania and Estonia; and the faith in Ireland and Scotland. But, just as important, Toibin - a Catholic only by baptism, communion, and confirmation - reckons with the religious demons of his ...
Colm Toibin writes brilliantly about successive Holy Weeks spent in Poland, Seville, Bavaria, Rome, and the Balkans; forays into post-Communist Catholic Lithuania and Estonia; and the faith in Ireland and Scotland. But, just as important, Toibin - a Catholic only by baptism, communion, and confirmation - reckons with the religious demons of his past. Here are the rituals, the pilgrimages, and the shrines; the fanatics, the charlatans, and the sincerely devout. And at the center of this brave book is Toibin's strange and painful session in group therapy, wherein, to his surprise, he experiences the urge to make the sign of the cross in memory of his father, who died when Toibin was a boy. The Sign of the Cross is a book about knowing that you can be moved intensely by someone else's belief while remaining unable to share it. Unaffected, humane, written with honesty and erudition lightly carried, it offers at once a prism of the Catholic faith in Europe today and a testimony to the enduring influence of religion in one gifted writer's life.
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Publishers Weekly, 1996-07-15 Novelist and "collapsed Catholic" Toibin looks at Catholic rituals as practiced throughout Europe. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1995-07-10 Irish novelist T?ib?n (The Heather Blazing), a self-described ``collapsed Catholic,'' evidently feels the tug of his semi-abandoned religion as he travels throughout Europe observing the variegated quality of Catholic practice and ritual. Like an investigative reporter, he explores the dramatically different observances of Holy Week, for example, in Poland, Spain and Italy. He demonstrates his own experience of the Catholic-Protestant divide in Belfast and Glasgow. We are privy to some cynicism about shrines and miracles at Lourdes (France) and Medjugorje (Croatia) and are enlightened by his assessment of nationalism-tinged Catholicism in post-Communist countries. More than a well-written travelogue punctuated with stops at pubs and taverns, this is also the journal of a personal quest for spiritual release, the finding of which the author describes to effect. An un-pious observer, T?ib?n is also a reflective recorder of the many faces of faith. (Sept.)
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