The movie was so shallow and one dimensional compared with the book. James spends a lot more time on the why. The movie is very political, it turns the situation into a political statement. The book on the other hand is more spiritual, it forces the reader to look at our modern society its spiritual malaise, and the decline in the respect for human life and dignity.
Sadly, for many people the only truly admirable priests the meet are in the pages of fiction. When one starts to read Morris West’s novel The Devil’s Advocate one may be disappointed. Despite his illness Meredith is not a very sympathetic figure. ordained to be a priest of God he has spent his career as a paper pusher in the Vatican. As the story progresses and the clerk meets with real people, an agnostic Jewish physician, a saint’s lover and their child, a narcissistic English dowager a pederast painter a barely educated parish priest and a pastoral bishop his heart changes. The reader gains sympathy for Meredith. Highly recommended. Loyola are to be commended for bringing West’s book back into print. As the title suggests this book is more about the Devil's Advocate than it is about the saint he investigates.
I found this a very disappointing book. It is well written and easy to read, that's about the best think I can say about it. It lacks proper footnotes. While there are many quotations it would have been good to know exactly where they came from. The book tries to address history and its place in our lives. The author however has her own biases, these come to the fore especially in chapter seven. It was a mistake to try and write about cases in which she was directly involved. It is for this reason rather than the lack of footnotes that I give this book only two stars out of five. There are many better books out there on this subject.
The title of Roger Scruton's latest book distracts from what he is trying to say. Some reviewers have tried to depict his thesis as 21st Eeyore singing the blues. Instead his thesis can be summed up in a line from Yeats that he uses in his final chapter, "The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity". Scruton identifies the ideologies that have wreaked havoc on our continent (and in some cases still do) and more importantly why. For example in chapter six he writes of "the Planning Fallacy." Here an authority such as the state (or as in western Europe the EU) helps us progress through top down planning. This planning gives a lot of people comfort but has no data to support the belief that it works. In fact, as Scruton points out, this has been debunked by one school of economics, the Austrians. Von Mises and the Nobel laureate, Hayek. This is an extremely readable book, a popular presentation of philosophy for those of us who are tired of statist, gnostic tomes that seem to dominate the subject area. I cannot remember the last time I reached the end of a book and went back to the beginning with a pen to read again and make notes, I did with this!
It's my own fault really. I should have read more reviews before buying this book in hardback. I was expecting something different. For some reason I was expecting a book that dealt of the intellectual roots of the American Revolution, I was a little disappointed. There was only a few references to Edmund Burke and even fewer to Montesquieu and only passing references to others. Instead the book gives a series of mini biographies of the Founding Fathers, organized chronologically. In that sense it was, okay, but it did not live up to the claim of one review that it would fill the gap in the market for a one volume history of the American Revolution. The bias can be detected early on, e.g. p. 54., equal voting in the Continental Congress had more to do with lack of census data than any notion of equality between the states. O really? Three stars is generous.