Thanks for joining CV Offline Summer Bookclub! This May, we read The Power and the Glory, a novel by Catholic author Graham Greene.
It tells the fictional story of a ‘whisky priest,’ the last surviving Roman Catholic clergyman in communist Mexico during a time of intense persecution.
As the priest travels from one town to the next, bringing the Sacraments to the underground Church, he grapples with the weight of his past sins. He is frequently given the opportunity to escape across the border, but the whisky priest is torn between his desire to live and his vocation to serve the Church.
We would love to know what you think about any or all of these questions. Feel free to post your thoughts on the book or individual questions in the comments!
A few thoughts we hope might spark discussion:
- If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to heaven is paved with paradox. Throughout the book, Greene portrays love and hate, good and evil, sacred and profane. Give examples of how the priest often discovers beauty in the moments of greatest suffering and hardship.
- When the whisky priest realizes that villagers are being arrested and shot for failing to turn him into the communist authorities, he lets it happen (though he does offer to take one man’s place.) Should the priest have turned himself in? Is he right to let these villagers die for him in the hopes that he will keep ministering to the Church?
- Why do you think Greene chose not to reveal the whisky priest’s name?
- The Church teaches that the Sacraments are valid regardless of a priest’s state of holiness. How does this come into play in the novel?
- Humility is a tricky virtue to cultivate. As C.S. Lewis points out in The Screwtape Letters, Christians can become prideful of their humility! Does the whiskey priest attain true humility before his death? What scenes hint at this?
- In this year of mercy, we’ve often meditated on the fact that God gives us chance after chance, especially when we feel like we don’t deserve it. The whiskey priest is no exception. In what ways does God show mercy on the whiskey priest? How does God work through the mess of the whiskey priest’s life?
- In the 1930’s the Mexican Government was doing everything it could to destroy the Catholic Church. It’s now the year 2016 and it seems that Catholicism is yet again under attack. What similarities are there between the authoritarian Mexican government of the 1930’s and the current government here in the United States? How can we learn from this book?
- In the final scene, why do you think the boy lets the priest into his family’s home? Why is this new character’s arrival significant?
We’ll post our June book in just a week. Stay tuned!