Michael Novick’s life took an interesting turn at the age of 28 when he decided to become a Catholic priest. In We Don’t Live in Eden, Reverend Novick shares how Catholicism has been battered by sex scandals, apathetic parishioners, and a decline in the number of hopeful priests. Heartbroken over “what the Church is turning into before [his] very eyes,” Novick hopes to encourage a more positive public perception of the Church.
While this book has little to do with its title—which suggests recreating the Garden of Eden on earth—it does offer an interesting peek into the life of a dedicated, warm-hearted Catholic priest. Novick recounts his childhood, the years leading up to his ordination, and life as a pastor. He includes journal entries and some reflective poetry, while also sharing his views on celibacy, same-sex marriage, and perversion in the church.
Novick comes across as a priest who is fully human, warm-hearted and spiritually inspiring. His book, however, presents reading challenges. The range of information is jarring. At one moment the book is written in memoir-style; at another, it shifts to a discussion of Catholic theology. Add in the journal excerpts, poetry, and shout-outs to friends, and it’s difficult to follow where Novick is headed.
Additionally, Novick’s notes to himself remain in the text (“Obviously, this last chapter has no rhyme or reason to finishing it up. The key for me will be to finish it soon after the first of the coming new year…”) This leaves the impression that this is more of a rough draft than a finished piece, as do the many typographical errors, including referring readers to a photo section that doesn’t exist.
Certainly anyone who personally knows the author will find his book uplifting and enjoyable. It may also appeal to those indecisive about priesthood as a profession. But in order to garner widespread appeal, it requires greater polish.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.