Reading Andrew Greeley

I was first exposed to Fr. Greeley when I picked up his novel The Senator and the Priest which I got because it mixed two things I loved- politics and Catholicism- into one novel. However, I didn’t know that he was a very liberal priest. I guess you could say I found the novel somewhat annoying with how liberal he was. Then I picked up his novel The Cardinal Sins which I actually enjoyed, the only thing that annoyed me was how pro-birth control he is!

So, long story short, I’ve only read 2 of his novels and enjoyed one and hated the other, and the one I did enjoy angered me a little (because he’s a pretty liberal Catholic). Now I’m considering reading another one of his novels. I really don’t want to read his novels that are about priests vs. the evil archbishop (which is most of his religious themed novels), but I like mysteries. So I’m considering reading the Bishop Blackie Ryan books since I will soon be visiting Chicago, which is where the books take place.

So am I stupid for giving him another try? How badly can he screw up a mystery novel?
Has anyone read any of Fr. Greeley’s mystery novels? What do you think?

I have known Father Greeley, personally, since I was a teenager. That’s nearly 50 yrs ago. I have never read any of Fr. Greeley’s novels nor do I have plans to change that approach. If you’re not aware of it, Fr. Greeley had a serious accident a few yrs back and he is now permanently neurologically impaired, at the age of 83 yrs. He has plenty of money to meet his needs for medical care and his family oversees his care. You needn’t contribute one penny to his already-extensive fortune and I can’t imagine why you would want to read any of his novels.

That’s my opinion about “reading” novels by Fr. A. Greeley.

(IOW, don’t bother reading any of them.)

I used to love Fr. Greeley books. As I got more into my faith, I found them annoying mostly because, while he doesn’t come right out and contradict Church teaching, he tends to trivialize the role of the Church and the hierarchy.

That’s the paradox, IMHO. If you are weak in your faith, these types of books can draw you further from the Church without you even realizing it. On the other hand, if you are stronger in your faith, you will see through the agenda and it spoils the read. :shrug:

I found the Ralph McInerny books very similar to Fr. Greeley’s material. They both have even tackeled some of the same non-fiction material. And McInery’s work is solidly Catholic.

Let me suggest, if you like mysteries with a Catholic flavor, Aimee and David Thurlo’s Sister Agatha murder mysteries. The sleuth is a contemplative nun, an extern in a cloistered order in northern New Mexico, who sometimes rides a motorcycle with her faithful sidekick Pax (a retired police dog) in the sidecar, when she isn’t driving the convent’s “Anti-Chrysler”! But don’t let all that make you think she’s liberal; far from it!

The books in the series are Bad Faith, Thief in Retreat, Prey for a Miracle, False Witness, Prodigal Nun and Bad Samaritan. I hope you’ll give them a try!

as mysteries they are fair, I find the characters and plots somewhat predictable, mainly because you know whenever there is a chance to make a traditional aka faithful church representative look bad, the plot will turn that way. If you can stomach the liberal tone, you will get a good capsule social history about how liberal American Catholic clergy and laity have seen themselves in the decades post V2.

For the most part, I’ve only finished reading one of his novels (An Occasion of Sin). The university library had a bit of a collection of his works actually (and I go to a Catholic university no less). I was part way through reading Virgin and Martyr but got too busy to finish.

So far though, I find his portrayal of the clergy to be the most humanizing. I may not read a lot of fiction involving priests/religious but those that I have either antagonize them as stereotypically corrupt or make them out as unbelievably saintly. He does neither. When I read the religious in his stories, I see neither alienating mystics or cliche wolves in the cloth. I simply see people.

I have to say though that the library doesn’t have any of his books published past the year 2000. I certainly would like to see him write a story set in a time more familiar to my generation. I have a hard time relating to his references to Irish culture or the culture of the 80s and the 90s you see. :o

I have just now joined this forum.

One of the reasons I am here is to see if someone “out there” really wants to talk about Andrew Greeley.
He is a very curious part of my intellectual path.
I first learned of him in the early 1980’s when I was in school in Chicago, his home town, as a sociologist of religion. My first book of his was “The Catholic Myth”

I was surprised to see that his studies rather closely paralleled my own life, meaning that he was describing American Catholicism over the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and what he observed and reported was very close to my own experience.

I began to read his fiction afterwards, after I had read the “Myths of Religion” where he was exploring the aesthetic nature of Catholic symbolism. He claimed that he had begun to write stories because he could express his theology ore effectively through the medium of fiction. So I started to read them.

I have read most of his novels. they are fairly good stories, sometimes, after reading so many of them, I have grown tired of the predictability but none-the-less, they have been sort of a comfortable modern day world that I have revisited. I have read some of them more than once, particularly the mysteries. Msgr/Bishop Blackie Ryan is the super sleuth anti-hero who Fr. Greeley imagined himself as, or at least imagined him as a model priest.

interestingly enough, it is through Greeley’s character Fr. Ryan, that I have begun to study William James and Alfred North Whitehead.

And it is this thread that I hope to pursue on this forum.

I will come back to this later, but I wanted to begin responding to a discussion of Greeley’s writing.

RIP Fr. Greeley

Welcome to CAF! :wave:

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