Over 1100 pages from 4 paperback books accompanied my journey in life the last few weeks amid Co-vid 19 news coverage. Routine readings also included educational readings, daily Washington Post stories, Jesuit America Magazine, spiritual readings, ancillary readings from other sources, and the morass of social media. I am not retired. I have a full-time consuming job, outside community commitments, and family the same as most. To what end do I find pleasure in reading books with so much available via other formats?
Detective Carl Morck was tracking a kidnapper/murder in the Nordic regions who have evaded notice for years (Conspiracy of Faith by Adler-Olsen). At the same time, Nathan Blum, a Polish American Jewish Immigrant who escaped Nazi purge, goes on a mission to break into Auschwitz and find a scientist for Bill Donovan and the American Manhattan Project (The One Man by Andrew Gross).
The Venerable Fulton J. Sheen evangelized from the grave through his book “The Mystical Body of Christ” as Jack Reacher landed in another town and ended up in between two to rival gangs controlling the city as he protects one old couple from financial ruin.
All four books, to an extent, have embedded the struggle between Good and Evil and man’s role in society in the face of great adversities. All four embrace imperfect people challenged to rise to be hero’s in their narratives and fight for a more significant cause than themselves.
The books provide me an escape from the realities of the struggles I face today while unearthing eternal truths hidden the fictional and spiritual writings of these authors.
Fulton describes in mystical language the unity of humankind: “The basis of the supernatural unity is Love, as is the basis of natural unity is being. What Being is to Metaphysics, that Love is to Theology—though we have not yet built our manuals around that central truth.” Detective Carl Morck, Natham Blum, and Jack Reacher all in their characters confront evil, explore suffering, and reveal Love as the end-all principle.
The real question, though, is, what was the best read among the four? I would love to say it was “The Mystical Body of Christ.” Sadly, it finished third! The One Man by Andrew Gross took first with sadly Jack Reacher Blue Moon finishing second. If any of you have read one Jack Reacher novel, you have read them all. The novel itself is several classes below the other three on the literary scales of depth, research, and innovative thought. That being said, I started it after the other three were well underway and finished it in three or four days!
Unlike the other three books, Jack Reacher novels simplify things and make things right by obtaining immediate justice by applying bone-crushing violence. Always the underdog saving the oppressed in some town before moving on to the next town, free and independent of any ties, intense and complicated in a typical American durable stereotype mold. His character speaks to our ability to solve things independently and directly – one bloody body at a time.
Preferable, I hope I am more like Nathan Blum if I ever get to be the hero in my own story. Detective Carl Morck just does not appeal to my nature, and Fulton Sheen is too dogmatically exacting for me to embrace fully.
Reading teaches us to look at the narrative arc of our lives and see if we are truly living up to the heroines or heroes, we would like to be when the time comes for someone else to write our epithet.
Get a good book online and spend some time reading while quarantined. Spiritual, Great literature, Fiction, or a page-turner, no matter. Be a hero or heroine today and stay home, isolate, and read a book!
“This is a random universe,” Reacher says. “Once in a blue moon things turn out just right.”