Thursday, August 08, 2013

Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book for the purpose of review. My integrity is not for sale. Those who know me well are aware I would relish the chance to give a bad review in exchange for a free book. If I've failed to do so, it has nothing to do with the source of the material and only with the material itself.

Subtitled "A Memoir... of Sorts," this book is the best of its tradition - not an autobiography concerned with factual representation and historical posterity, Cron attempts to retell his life in service of the overall narrative.

I had previously read his first book, Chasing Francis, which is very good. However, despite the quality material and expert prose, Cron set the bar well above "very good" and never quite reached those heights. For most of Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me, the narrative seemed to be moving in the same direction. Then it wasn't.

Cron once again brings wonderful and timely analogies to augment witty prose in telling humorous and formative stories from his childhood. It felt like a fun ride that wasn't really going anywhere. Quite suddenly, for us and for him, it turns into an extraordinary, moving encounter with God rivaling that of Augustine or John Wesley in its profundity and beauty.

My sacramental friends (of whom I am probably numbered) will celebrate that the eucharist serves as the connectional element of Cron's life. It is a worthy and powerful bookend to the story of one young catholic boy's tumultuous relationship with an aloof, alcohol father and ultimately with himself. It is a fitting image of unworthiness, loss, self-doubt, forgiveness, life, and eternal value which the book explores.

I think some of the contemporary and cultural references lose their punch when they're explained (I'll blame the editor and not the author for those errors), but it's so well written and entertaining. From the moment of the "turn," I could not put it down. Instead of a "too-good-to-be-true" tale, we get a hopeful, grace-filled story of redemption and growth that is excellent because it does not reach the bar it sets for itself.

It's a very good book and I may have to read Chasing Francis again.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

No comments: