If hesitation is the antithesis of decisiveness, then let me explain my frustration from where I stand. I am fed up with the Catholic Church's sex scandals. Every time I turn around, I am confronted with some news in that regard from some part of the world. I am trying to create a community through my books that is very human, but a far cry from the nether hell that is consuming the psyche of the church and its priests.
Before my first novel came out, I even had discussions about whether I should change the denomination of the parish from Catholic to Episcopalian, just to avoid the challenges of trying to introduce a parish to a public jaundiced by recent events. I decided to be true to my word and my world, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth it.
I grew up Catholic. What I write about I have experienced. Did my pastor have an old love affair with his housekeeper "back in the day?" No, but plenty of priests have love affairs, internal passions that are sometimes the biggest hurdle of their lives, not to mention celibacy. Have there been overly-flirtatious parishioners with handsome priests? Yes, there have been and always will be. How about an unexplainable attraction between a young priest and the son of the housekeeper, in his twenties, unsure of his own sexuality? Now, we're getting into the multi-layered plot of the book with its gristle, warmth, worldliness and comic relief. My characters, including Father Tom, stand tall among these.
I wanted to write about a parish that was real. Not real, mirroring the reality of the church's dark shadows, but real in that sincere attempt to balance humanity with spirituality. It's unfair to all of us who grew up with fluttering habits, incense and mea culpas to be constantly hit with news that shames us to the core. We recover, partly because there's an undeniable faith ever present.
Methodically strewn among the rusted thumbtacks are those innocent moments at Temptation of Christ Parish, when affection and friendship rise above everything else and form the basis for comprehension in a complicated world. A very independent and affectionate community, it has no hierarchy or affiliation that would tarnish its position in the heart of those who love their religion and want to insulate themselves from outside whispers. Parishioners bask in this unique environment since it serves to nudge each and every one of them toward a comfortable salvation without interference.
If the Catholic media wants to keep controversy to a minimum, I say, good luck. The festering and poor judgment will periodically erupt and there's nothing that can be done about it.
I thought I could create a most necessary diversion.