In this fictitious journal, author Jack Scissons details the daily life of a newly ordained Catholic priest as he explores modern solutions to outdated theological beliefs.
After the assisted death of his young, ailing wife, Cam Wilson “drank a lot to deal with the loss of her [and] ended up in an alcoholic treatment program run by the Benedictines.” He “was impressed with the monks and their fifteen-hundred-year-old spirituality” and decided to become a priest. Here, Scissons uses the journal of Father Cam as a tool for addressing numerous controversial subjects facing the Catholic church, such as divorce, abortion, female priests, and the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.
A former priest himself, Scissons shines light on the daily life of the “closed-personnel organization” of the Catholic priesthood. Father Cam confesses “there are many teachings of the church that I struggle with and do not teach.” Through the priest’s private writings, Scissons explores Bible doctrine and controversial current social issues as they relate to Catholic beliefs.
Scissons’ vision of a hip, new priest with modern ideas falls flat as a journal—a form of writing that isn’t innately exciting to read. The author, unfortunately, lacks the necessary techniques for writing vivid, engaging fiction and delivers a dry read. The “Core Teaching” entries, which read like mini-sermons, are interesting, but the day-to-day mundane moments may make it difficult for readers to stay invested until the end. For example, one entry reads: “Nothing special happened; breakfast with Mother…I had lunch with Father Mike and dinner with Sis, Trevor, Pat, and Jill.” This type of writing forgets the needs of readers and does little to move the story forward.
Scissons’ intended audience is not entirely clear: The book is too slow moving for fiction readers, and nonfiction readers will likely be put off by the novelization of the authors ideas. Those willing to persevere, however, may find the author’s ideas about modernizing Catholic beliefs helpful.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.