We met on November 14 to discuss Morte d’Urban by J. F. Powers, with Mary leading the discussion. Immdiately we saw a divide between those who had enjoyed the book and those who had not. This opened up plenty of room for discussion. Some had particularly enjoyed some humorous bits and had even marked them so we could discuss them, while another member had an experience of having bitter memories revived regarding having been told of incidents of difficulties in living communal religious life.
The book had been reviewed and discussed back in 2014 in America, the national Jesuit magazine, and we examined some of the statements in that review. In particular, we focused on three discussion questions that had been included in the review. 1) What do you think of the claustrophobic priestly politics depicted by Powers? Is it stifling or comical or something else? 2) What constitutes success for a Christian? What constitutes success for a priest or a consecrated religious? 3) How has Fr. Urban been transformed at the end of the novel?
We enjoyed our discussion, and, just as it should be, we found that new insights were brought by hearing the discoveries and the opinions of others. We were mostly in agreement in feeling that the book had provided us with a different vision of some problems of the serving priest, and the Church in the days just before the Second Vatican Council. All agreed that, for us, the ending was not successful and did not provide what we were looking for. We felt unsure what the author was telling us by the way he ended the book.
There were some decisions to be made about our future meetings, and we finally agreed that. because December is such a busy time for many, we would postpone meeting and reading our Dorothy Sayers radio play until January. After consultation with Father as to what Saturday night would fit with his schedule, the date has been set as January 7.
Our book for February will be The Lord by Romano Guardini, and it’s a good thing we have lots of time to read because it is a lengthy book, around 625 pages. It is available from Book Depository, and there is an e-book version as well. I would suggest getting a copy as soon as possible so that there is plenty of time to digest it. Sometimes over the holidays we have a little more free time for reading, and this will fill the gap very nicely.