- Series: American Tragedy in Trilogy (Book 2)
- Paperback: 511 pages
- Publisher: Emmaus Road Publishing; 2nd edition (June 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 193101874X
- ISBN-13: 978-1931018746
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 38 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,128,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Motherless (American Tragedy in Trilogy) 2nd Edition
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Review by Emily Rice For The Bulletin
Readers who have been awaiting the return of Father John Sweeney and his parishioners from St. Martha's will not be disappointed by this latest installment in their story, local author Brian J. Gail's much anticipated second novel, Motherless, expected to hit shelves this October. Firmly set in the present moment, Motherless reintroduces us to old friends tempered by the intervening twenty years of experience since the setting of Mr. Gail's best selling first novel, Fatherless. These characters still sing, evidently drawn by a writer remarkable not only for his keen observation of the human condition, but also for his fierce love for humanity. Uniting the disparate worlds these people inhabit: health care, Madison Avenue advertising and bio medical research, Motherless captures a comprehensive snap shot of the most critical issues of our time. Where Fatherless focused on the personal and social effects of the Sexual Revolution and the contraceptive Pill, Motherless picks up these threads and exposes the magnitude of the perversion to which those personal decisions have accommodated us. The contemporary reality of international black markets for human eggs and sperm and the farming of embryonic human children for laboratory research is rendered simultaneously more horrifying and more personal through Mr. Gail's careful narration of the interplay between human frailty and the diabolical design which enables it. For anyone who has struggled to reconcile our culture s embrace of the promised benefits of the Life Sciences revolution with a natural revulsion at their advertised price, the literal consumption of our own young, Motherless lifts a veil. The plot illustrates connections between our most intimate decisions and the national and international policies that seek not merely to change the world, but to fundamentally alter the very nature of Man. This ongoing story exposes the systemic sin that permeates modern life so as to enmesh us ever deeper in the culture of death even as it erodes our ability to make conscious decisions to avoid evil, or even our awareness that there are any such decisions to be made. The narcissism which characterizes contemporary man necessarily impacts every aspect of his existence, but the interrelation of these superficially distinct pathologies can be difficult to discern amid the complexity that is modern life. The unique power of art to clarify our own experience constitutes the greatest gift of this book. As an example, a dinner party conversation set in the aftermath of the stock market crash of October 2008 becomes both a sobering history lesson and a metaphor for the larger human condition. Discussing the origins of the crisis in the shifting importance of America's financial services and manufacturing sectors, the inhabitants of Narbrook are confronted with the unpleasant reality that our situation has been presaged by the experience of the Spanish, Dutch and British Empires. Once an empire stops making and shipping things and focuses mostly on moving money around, for all intents and purposes, it s over. Evidently no realm of human experience is immune from the insatiable demand unleashed when the natural price of any pleasure is removed. Of course, these are universal human concerns, but as a self-consciously Catholic novel Motherless particularly explores the unique resources which the Catholic Church brings to this battle. From uncatechized lay people right up to the Church hierarchy we are called to obey the dictates of conscience, informed and strengthened by the word of God, the Magisterium, and our Lord in the Eucharist. --The Bulletin: Philadelphia's Family Newspaper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Brian J. Gail was a schoolboy baseball phenom recruited by Division One universities and scouted by Major League baseball teams; he suffered a disabling shoulder injury early in his college career and was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies team doctor whose efforts to help him regain his exceptional pitching velocity were unsuccessful. Fueled by a white hot competitive fire and magnetic rhetorical gifts he rocketed to the top of the Madison Avenue advertising world in his mid 30's only to see his career derailed by a great moral business dilemma and a direct challenge to his Catholic faith. A gifted entrepreneur and CEO, he provided strategic marketing counsel to elite Fortune 500 corporations and directed a variety of non-profit boards focused on assisting the underprivileged in Philadelphia. Today, Brian J. Gail is a critically acclaimed author, a Knight of the Immaculate, a co-founder of three catholic classical academies, a patent holder, and a highly sought after speaker on matters of faith and family. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Upon such convictions, Gail builds his story of a "revolution" which will lead to a kind of brave new world of bioethics. Conspirators are planning to build a biotechnical empire by trading in embryos, by designing new humans who will live to be 1,000 years old, and by engaging in various other nefarious eugenics practices. The indomitable nurse Maggie Kealey (whom we met in Fatherless) now is the head of an ostensibly Catholic hospital in which decidedly anti-Catholic bioethical practices are routine. In part, the novel is a study of Kealey's fight against apathetic, cowardly, or evil leaders (such as a nun and a cardinal) and of her chaste romance with a staff doctor (whom she cannot marry because her estranged husband still survives).
We meet again such characters as Joe Delgado and Michael Burns, the success of whose careers seems to turn upon their willingness to ignore Church teaching. To what extent will they sacrifice what is right on the pagan altar of what is expedient? Counseling them is, again, Father John Sweeney, whose story is at the heart of the earlier novel Fatherless. Having now become a true "Father" (a priest willing always to speak the truth in love), Father Sweeney is Gail's voice for preaching and teaching orthodoxy. One might object that Father Sweeney is a little too lachrymose, but his homilies are refreshing (which is Gail's point, after all) in an age of frequently insipid and obsequious sermons.
Motherless can become overheated in places, characters are often overdrawn, and the plot is at once too improbable and too formulaic. As a work of fiction, the novel is weak. Seen, however, as a means of understanding Catholic bioethical teaching, it has the great virtues of accuracy, readability, and passion. (People who will not read Dignitas Personae or, say, Embryo by George and Tollefsen, for example, will--and should--read this teaching novel, which is a kind of allegory for our day.) The simple and terrible fact is that we are living in a time in which thousands of tiny human beings are locked away in freezers; in which people are hatched in petri dishes; in which embryos can be and are traded like "futures"; in which animal parts increasing find their way into humans ("chimeras"); in which contraception is praised even by some Christians; in which marriage is effectively subverted by iniquitius public policy; in which abortion is routine; and in which widespread euthanasia is on the horizon. And too many Catholics respond to all this with a yawn, while some morally perplexed priests issue invitations to pro-abortion speakers to speak at commencement exercises at their universities and some excessively complaisant bishops eulogize, or bury from Catholic churches, politicians whose careers have been spent publicly mocking the teaching of the Church to which those politicians claim allegiance--when it suits them. We have, as C. S. Lewis might have said, made too many "men without chests."
In the face of these and many other monstrous evils (which would make Dr. Josef Mengele smile), many bishops, priests, and deacons say--nothing. Gail is at his tragic best in depicting such pastoral acedia (CCC #2733), which is a nice way of saying "cowardice." Gail's novel is a study (and he mentions the terms) in material and formal cooperation with evil. The tragic fact is that homilists who never preach against the "revolution on life science," believing instead in what they see as "progress" or "tolerance" or the need to be "popular," are cooperating with the very evil (cf. James 4:17) they should be thunderously denouncing.
Gail's novels can be read in tandem or separately. Either or both would be ideal for parish discussion groups, and I recommend them--again, not as great fiction, but as insights into Catholic bioethics teaching and as reliable witnesses to it. (Seminarians should also read and serious discuss this three-part series of novels.) I particularly recommend that those reading Gail's novels simultaneously read Janet Smith and Christopher Kaczor, Life Issues, Medical Choices. One hopes that Gail's work may find a large audience among Protestants as well as Catholics.
No review of this novel can responsibly omit criticizing the, well, deplorable copy editing. People buy a book with the expectation (forlorn in this case) of professional presentation. This novel is so filled with errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation that the author and publisher should be seriously embarrassed. Words such as discreet, all right, benefited, indispensable, discernible, reiterate (and others) are misspelled routinely. Even "hear, hear!" is misspelled (410). The author occasionally uses incorrect cases (he/him, etc.), guesses about how to make Burns and other nouns [367, 411, 488] plural or possessive, confuses words like sung and sang (248), laying or lying (432), misuses hyphens (211, 362, 436), blunders about Johns Hopkins (425), and painfully so on. Readers deserve a professionally published book; because of the large number of errors here, this does not qualify as one. One hopes for much better in Childless.
Despite the regrettable errors (suggesting a very hasty proofreading and printing), this book still performs a commendable service for its readers, and I hope it will enjoy wide readership. Catholics are generally very poorly "catechized"--a euphemism for saying that we Catholics are badly educated (see pp. 314-315). This failed education is not only in apologetics, bioethics, and moral theology; it is also in general liberal education, which is the necessary foundation for subsequent successful learning. Until we re-learn to learn and until we revivify genuine Catholic liberal arts education, the redoubtable Father Sweeney will too often speak to those who cannot or will not hear. And the consequences of that are eternal.