Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop by Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B., http://www.amazon.com/Pilgrim-Church-Memoirs-Catholic-Archbishop/dp/0802863825/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
I don’t do a lot of book reviews, but I decided to make an exception for Archbishop Weakland’s excellent autobiography. Intrigued by a recommendation (which is longer story and one that I may relate in about nine years or so), I read the whole thing, sentence by sentence, word for word.
Archbishop Weakland is an excellent writer with a clear and engaging writing style, making even the most detailed minutiae of life in a Benedictine monastery or in the Vatican accessible and interesting. His reflections are a no-holds-barred recollection of the significant events in his life. He spares himself no criticism while trying to explain just how everything fell into place in his life. Anyone would enjoy reading this book, but I want to recommend it to three specific groups:
If you consider yourself any kind of Catholic or if you are fascinated by the inner workings of the Vatican, perhaps after reading the Da Vinci Code, then you need to read this book, if only for the wealth of information contained in it. Buy it. It’s expensive, but worth every cent.
If you lived anywhere in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee while Archbishop Weakland was in office (1977-2002), then you will also find the many revelations fascinating. Buy this book.
To my writer friends: If you are a writer, even if you have no particular interest in or affection for religion, you should read this book. So many of our characters end up as little, one-dimensional, convenient stick figures. Archbishop Weakland is maddeningly complex, highly intelligent, well-educated, and insightful regarding many things and infuriatingly clueless and boneheaded stupid about others. He means well so often and yet blurts out the occasional tactless insult. He is fearless about standing up for what he believes and yet timidly gives in to a blackmailer’s demands. It is impossible to dislike him even while you are rolling your eyes at some of his obviously wrongheaded decisions. Once you have analyzed the contradictory archbishop, you will have enough material for at least ten new and different characters. Archbishop Weakland’s descriptions and analyses of the Vatican provide the best explanation for the survival of bureaucracies that I have ever read. Anyone who wants to have a bureaucracy as a character or a setting in a story needs to read this, if only to understand how a long-lived bureaucracy is a perpetual motion machine, one that sucks in its energy from the outside.
So, writer friends, go to your closest library (You’re a writer; therefore you are well aware of the help you can get from your local library) and beg them to acquire this book so that you can check it out. It’s too expensive for you to buy, but you would benefit from reading it.
My rating for the book: on a scale of one to ten, it’s an obvious ten. Take the (significant amount of) time to read it.
You won’t regret it!