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Lazarus Paperback – February 15, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
This has been a consistent thrust of Morris West's writings, born out of his own experiences : a theme that is of course highly divisive. Many (like myself, admittedly) Catholics who considered the Second Vatican Council to be a long delayed awakening for the hierarchy, and the subsequent papal policies as a betrayal of the Council, will doubtless find ourselves in full agreement. I recognize at the same time that many persons of goodwill consider the Council as a step too far and view the retrenchments since then as advancements.
The Pope Leo of the book is not John Paul II of course, but his fundamental character is not far different. West envisages Leo as the stereotyped Curial bureaucrat who becomes a priest more from family expectations than any real calling, rises through the ranks and finds himself Pope with no real vision for the Church beyond the classical bureaucrat's respect for authority and rules. With this background, he (in all sincerity no doubt) rules with an iron hand, brooking no dissent and heedless of the human cost of his policies. Faced suddenly with the possibility of death, and applying the surgery as a metaphor for resurrection (like the Lazarus of the New Testament), Leo finds himself questioning the methods he has used and the contrary results of these methods. Pushing him, in facile counter-point, is the aged Cardinal Drexel who in experiencing the love of a foster family has been able to discern the withering of the Church and the yawning chasm between the hierarchy and the laity.
The storyline is thin, in fact it is clearly contrived by West to suit his line of argument, with the result that just about every stereotype finds a place. He does succeed in making his plaint however. How likely is such a situation? I wonder. The larger an organization (or a faith) grows, the more inevitable the need for sets of rules and procedures and we cannot return to the simplicity of earlier days, no matter how attractive they may appear. It is enough that West succeeds in making the reader participate in the debate, no matter which side of the argument. I highly recommend this book, irrespective of your stand on the questions, this is a book to read and think about.
Being under the knife brings the iron-fisted hard-liner to a personal crisis, and he emerges another man after having seen death in the eye - thus the title. But the statistical risk of not making it through surgery is infinitesimal - compared to becoming the target of professional assassins as they gather around their prey.
As often is with West, he combines quick action with personal trauma. And once again, he does it well. The thrill and the thoughts are both essential, and the book is worth reading. And, not surprisingly, a twist at the end.
Most definitely a repeat read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
West writes in a very readable style, makes the story very entertaining & informative and shows how the bureaucracy in the Catholic Church is a power unto itself...Read more