A key comic writer of the past three decades has created his most heartfelt and hard-hitting book. Father Joe is Tony Hendra’s inspiring true story of finding faith, friendship, and family through the decades-long influence of a surpassingly wise Benedictine monk named Father Joseph Warrillow.
Like everything human, it started with sex. In 1955, fourteen-year-old Tony found himself entangled with a married Catholic woman. In Cold War England, where Catholicism was the subject of news stories and Graham Greene bestsellers, Tony was whisked off by the woman’s husband to see a priest and be saved.
Yet what he found was a far cry from the priests he’d known at Catholic school, where boys were beaten with belts or set upon by dogs. Instead, he met Father Joe, a gentle, stammering, ungainly Benedictine who never used the words “wrong” or “guilt,” who believed that God was in everyone and that “the only sin was selfishness.” During the next forty years, as his life and career drastically ebbed and flowed, Tony discovered that his visits to Father Joe remained the one constant in his life—the relationship that, in the most serious sense, saved it.
From the fifties and his adolescent desire to join an abbey himself; to the sixties, when attending Cambridge and seeing the satire of Beyond the Fringe convinced him to change the world with laughter, not prayer; to the seventies and successful stints as an original editor of National Lampoon and a writer of Lemmings , the off-Broadway smash that introduced John Belushi and Chevy Chase; to professional disaster after co-creating the legendary English series Spitting Image ; from drinking to drugs, from a failed first marriage to a successful second and the miracle of parenthood—the years only deepened Tony’s need for the wisdom of his other and more real father, creating a bond that could not be broken, even by death.
A startling departure for this acclaimed satirist, Father Joe is a sincere account of how Tony Hendra learned to love. It’s the story of a whole generation looking for a way back from mockery and irony, looking for its own Father Joe, and a testament to one of the most charismatic mentors in modern literature.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Business & Economics eBook: Father Joe|
|Release Date: 05-18-2004|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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How I met Father Joe:
I was fourteen and having an affair with a married woman.
At least she called it an affair; she also said we were lovers, and on several occasions, doomed lovers. An average teen, I was quite content with these exalted terms; in practice, however, I only got to second base with her. (I didn’t yet know it was second base, as I was growing up in England.)
It was only rather later too, when I saw The Graduate, that I realized my Mrs. Robinson may have been somewhat older than she admitted to—which was twenty-two. To my unpracticed eye she could certainly pass for that; I was still young enough that any woman with breasts and a waist and her own teeth was roughly the same age as any other—which is to say a grown-up—and the mysterious repository of unimaginable pleasures deserving . . .
. . . hideous, very specific torments. The fly in the ointment of this relationship was that we were both Catholics. At least in theory (theory to me, practice to her), there was a terrible bill being racked up somewhere, calibrating the relative sinfulness of everything we did, every gesture made, every word exchanged, let alone every kiss. Should death strike, should lightning fork from one of the huge trees outside into our concupiscent bodies, should one of the experimental jets being developed over the hill at DeHavilland’s disintegrate and plummet to earth (as they often threatened to do when trying to break the sound barrier), turning her trailer into a fireball, down, down we would plunge, into the bowels of Hell, unshriven, unforgiven, damned for all eternity to indescribable suffering.
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