Saturday, April 09, 2005

Swimming with Scapulars

Confession time: I don't often read personal-experience columns, think pieces, meditations, or reflections. And in my most sexist moments I classify book-length collections of these with chick-lit. When I find such books written by men, I assume that they're marketed to my wife. (She, by the way, agrees and confirms my hunches by comparing the contents of mags aimed at women with mags aimed at men.) All that said, I find I am enthralled by an outstanding new book, Swimming with Scapulars: True Confessions of a Young Catholic by Matthew Lickona. The author's a thirty-something dad and remarkable storyteller. He's a smart journalist, but he doesn't wear his erudition on his sleeve. Instead it's caught up in the stories -- of his adolescence, his dealing with a homosexual come-on, his marriage, his bumpy transition to fatherhood, his work, his discovery of a friend's stash of bondage porn. There's nothing of the pietistic harangue here, nothing syrupy or over-spiritualized, no theological tsk-tsking of an over-clericalized androgynous layperson. Instead, we encounter a real feet-on-the ground, normal-male, living-in-the-word, lay spirituality. This book is so unusal that it's startling. I'm having trouble putting it down, and I had to drop in to tell you about it.
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