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Happy Are the Clean of Heart(Blackie Ryan #2)

  10/02/2012       Runawayboy      0 Comments

by Andrew M. Greeley

Category: Anthropology

  • Type: Paperback
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • ISBN: none
  • ASIN: 9780356147505
  • Edition Language: English

Happy are the Clean of Heart is an interesting mystery. The villain is not the character I would have preferred, but was the second-in-line on my suspect list. The story is, perhaps, overly embellished with sentimentalism. Circumstances make Monsignor Ryan more accessible as a man, but they tend to lend a melodramatic overcast to the novel as surely as the fog which plays a major role in the set-up.In many ways, the introduction to this book may be more important than the story itself. Greeley interprets the beatitude for which the book is entitled as “pure” meaning single-minded, focused, and integrity of motivation. In this, he would agree with both the Greek root to the word (“uncontaminated” or “unmixed”) with its ties to metallurgy and Soren Kierkegaard’s great essay on purity as single-mindedness. In this way, Greeley weaves a story about an entertainer, a performer who would not generally be classified as “pure,” but establishes that purity and devotion to God as he strives to solve the mystery. In so doing, he draws from logic (along with a delightful tribute to the pragmatic philosopher William James) and faith to pull together a love story, a story of redemption, and a story of betrayal such that only the most callous of readers can fault him for the way the story unfolds.Although the genders are different, one almost senses an autobiographical awareness of Greeley himself within his female protagonist. One senses that otherwise devout people may have criticized the famous priest for his mystery and fantasy novels as being inappropriate for someone with a divine vocation. Yet, Greeley argues through the circumstances surrounding his “victim” that God chooses us to communicate however we may, whatever is important to us.Certainly, one wishes that a Christopher Hitchens (who thinks it is evil for the 10 commandments to restrict one’s thought life from “envy”) would read this statement from Blackie Ryan’s “old fella’,” his father Ned: “Envy, Johnny, pushed to its utmost logical conclusion means murder. Fortunately, most of us are not logical or don’t have the courage of our convictions. The mixture of love and hatred that constitutes envy demands that the other be driven from the face of the earth.” (p. 179)



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