The Power and the Glory
Graham Greene's story of a Catholic priest in Mexico is one that spirals around struggles with fear and alcohol abuse. It is a spiritual struggle, twisting around the story of Father Jose and the people he seeks to minister to in Mexico, even as he struggles with his own personal demons (many which dwell in a bottle). The Power and the Glory takes us into prisons, lets us experience mad drinking sprees first hand, and brings us up close to the underprivileged. It is a sad tale, but one that offers hope, and even redemption.
Father Jose is a cynical sort, brooding and overthinking everything he encounters. In one exchange with a woman he wants to help, we read: "She said, 'I would rather die.' 'Oh,' he said, 'of course, that goes without saying. But we have to go on living.'" This commitment to "go on living," though without any illusions about life, brings us to the heart of the redemptive underpinnings of the book.
Jose is a compassionate man, and his battle-weary but still soft heart makes for a very sympathetic character. In the face of all the corruption and injustices that he meets, he comes to the conclusion that "[h]ate was just a failure of imagination." This worn out man who is faced with a job too big for him is certainly one who has to appeal to Christian readers. It is an honest, soulful exploration of the attempt to keep the faith, even through struggles that seem too huge to face, whether they be on the personal level or on the broader social scale. Greene's writing is outstanding, and the themes explored in The Power and the Glory are well worth the attention of thoughtful, serious Christian readers.
reviewed by Shelly Bryant ©2009
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