One Catholic pacifist blog said he opposed the Iraq war but wanted to see the “other side”, so read a highly touted book by someone who was there.

The problem? The book was a cynical one, of course, imitating the “Catch 22” meme. How did the writer get a book contract? A reporter found him writing cynical stories (some made up) and got him a contract.

Needless to say, others who told stories of heroism wouldn’t be making the book tours, nor would the stories of Saddam’s horrors, which were not reported by CNN for fear they would lose their ability to report from Baghdad.

The “meme” is cynicism: especially if the story arc goes from faith and an upright life to cynicism and “freedom” (aka what we old folks used to call bad behavior).

So today’s big book being touted is a novel to bash the LDS church.

Surprise surprise.

It’s the black story not being told of the boys (and girls) who go on missions to spread the faith. And of course, this one fits the meme:

They’re so lonely, the pressures they face on a daily basis are so tremendous. Because of the nature of their work, they’re seen as annoying at best and predatory at worst.

Q: Are a lot of the events in the book your own?

A: I gave some of my own experiences to McLeod and Passos, particularly mental experiences, to the extent that McLeod doubts and Passos feels a worldly longing for success. But the behavior themselves was where the fiction started to take over.

So the author presumes everyone thinks and feels like he did. Reality check: that is not necessarily true.

Yet a novel about the problems of being a missionary in the third world would be an interesting subject for some of us (been there, done that: as a doc pushing health and vaccinations, not religion).

Yes, one is lonely and has doubts one might be doing good, and unless one has a deep faith, and is willing to see hope in the daily small victories, one can succumb to despair.

To survive, one needs to recognize that depression caused by fatigue, or the dark night of the soul is part of a normal maturation process, and that feelings during these times do not reflect the reality of what you are doing.
So I would enjoy a good book that examines the experience, but alas, so far no such luck. Only cynical ones, or badly written ones for true believers seem to be printed, and never the twain will meet

No, I haven’t read the novel (until it hits the used book kiosk at the mall, I doubt I’ll get around to it). But the interview suggests it is not an honest book but one that fits the meme of the elites.


Why do I say this? Because the interview notes that the author grew to accept the anti war sentiment of the left from his experiences.

Surprise surprise.

That got him ten minutes of fame on NPR, along with the author who reported why all those soldiers deserted in World War II,  an Israeli pacifist who thinks that the middle East would be fine if Isaraelis just learned to live with Palestinians (just ignore Mickey mouse suicide bomber on the Gaza equivalent of Sesame street) and the  biography by a girl whose father lived through the gay revolution in San Francisco (when the riots stopped public health officials trying to close the bath houses  as health hazards, leading to a spreading epidemic of hepatitis B, syphilis and ultimately HIV, but never mind. Saying that is not PC, but is an open secret in the medical community).

None of this is new.


In college we were forced to read “Catch 22”, which is about the absurdity of World War II written by a writer who, ironically, would have been on Hitler’s elimination list, but never mind. Cynicism please..


Yet was the author’s work in Brazil something to be ridiculed as meaningless?

I might not agree with LDS theology, but in the slums of the third world, where crime and drugs and chaos reigns, there is a need for a religion that teaches strict moral rules, supplies the fellowship and family-like support for it’s members, and comforts it’s members with the idea that God approves of your hard work.


The dirty little secret is that an LDS (or Evangelical/Pentecostal) missionary does more to strengthen the slum communities of the third world than any number of “community organizers”, but you have to live in the third world to recognize this.


Never mind. That story is rarely seen or reported (except in a twisted form to try to criticize the Catholic church as an institution for losing it’s members to these churches).


Yet the explosion of Christian “sects” has societal and economic effects, and is happening not only in “catholic” South America (and the Philippines) but in atheistic China and Korea. And that has economic and political implications that are ignored by the elites, who only live in an echo chamber as narrow as the least educated Dittohead.
Sigh.Which brings us back to Joseph Heller’s cynical book: this is pushed as a “great books”, right? Ah, but is it? And in 100 years, will it still be read?
And that brings us to another question:Why are high school and college kids reading Catch 22 (or “Catcher in the Rye”, about a cynical rich kid who feels sorry for himself), and not other books about the war, such as this gem, The Last Enemy by a Spitfire Pilot in World War II.


Hillary’s book is a story of cynicism too, but  has the exact opposite story arc. He started as an anti war pacifist and cynic who flew, not to save England but for love of flying, and after he was injured, learned to love his country and God during his long rehabilitation.


For some reason, it isn’t on anyone’s reading list, but it is still in print these many years later, and my own copy was borrowed (and never returned) by a pilot and veteran of the Gulf wars.


A short excerpt is read on Youtube LINK.and for non Yanks, it is on Project Gutenburg (Australia).


Yes, they don’t write books like they used to…Or maybe they do, but such books tend to be disguised as fantasy or science fiction. Hunger Games, anyone?
But that’s another essay for another day.



Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She is Catholic but has treated many patients belonging to the LDS church, including those returning from missions.’

Be Sociable, Share!