At Google you can discover, “Andrew M. Greeley was an Irish-American Roman Catholic priest, sociologist, journalist and popular novelist.
Born: February 5, 1928, Oak Park, IL Died: May 29, 2013, Chicago, IL”
Since Father Greeley’s recent death there have been many, many pieces posted on the internet praising him (and no doubt some attacking him, but I haven’t read those). One brief article by Father Ron Rolheiser reads in part,
“I [once] jumped to [Greeley’s] defence with these words: ‘Nobody has ever left the Church because of an Andrew Greeley novel, but many people have stayed in the Church because of Andrew Greeley’s novels.’“
“As literary works, his novels suffered more because they were too pious and often thinly disguised Catholic apologia. Any true reading of his novels reveals a man who was deeply pious, much in love with his Church, and not-so-subtly defending his Church….. Like other Christian apologists before him — Tolkien, Lewis and Chesterton — he too tried to give a reason for the hope that’s within us. In that, he succeeded, wonderfully so.” *
I have had the good fortune to have a read a number of Greeley’s novels, sermons, devotional writings, and even some of his sociology. I have to differ with Fr Rolheiser’s description of Greeley’s novels as “thinly disguised Catholic apologia.” I see them as homilies. But much, much more interesting and entertaining than some of what happens around pulpits but certainly no less a proclamation of God’s redeeming love. Whether his novels take the form of a family saga, science fiction, or mystery, he is always helping us see how God is active in our relationships bringing us hope and redemption. And often when we least expect it.
I wonder if we need more Christian apologists writing novels and less writing theology.
Take some time today or tomorrow (or when you can make the time) and name a few novels, or short stories, or movies, or plays, or musicals that for you proclaim the Gospel of God’s Redeeming Love. What might those works teach us about how the Gospel can be proclaimed both in the pulpit and out of the pulpit with more passion and more clarity?