Friday, July 01, 2011
Tinney Talk, July 2011, The Church Of Almighty Good Food
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TINNEY TALK (Pope Mary & The Church Of Almighty Good Food)
Observations by Joe Dan Boyd
POPE MARY & THE CHUCH OF ALMIGHTY GOOD FOOD, called a “barnstormer of a book” by publisher Wicker Park Press, Ltd., is the latest book, and the third novel ($24.95, PO Box 5318, River Forest, IL 60305), by my great friend Gene Logsdon. We met during the mid-1960s in Philadelphia, where Gene & I shared adjoining offices at Farm Journal Magazine on Washington Square.
HEROINE OF THIS GREAT READ IS A FIESTY OHIO FARM GIRL, Mary Barnette, who—like most of her neighbors—is offended when a high-handed Bishop arbitrarily closes St. Philodendra, a venerable Catholic church (with $200,000 in the bank) surrounded by corn fields and with deep roots in Mary’s community. She also challenges traditional “Canon Law” by which churches can be closed, buildings and property sold (without consent of the local congregations) and attendees forced to alternate worship sites. In this case the church is both closed and locked, denying parishioners use of the building, until a midnight avenger breaks the lock.
THE HEROINE’S OFFICIOUS ATTITUDE prompts Mary to suggest she could probably do as well as “that old man over there in Rome,” and is thereafter called “Pope Mary” for the balance of this carefully crafted novel exploring virtually every aspect of rural ministry from the sharply contrasting viewpoints of the hierarchy, those who administer an often arbitrary church authority and the parishioners, those who must either comply with or challenge that authority.
AND CHALLENGE IS THE MESSAGE OF THIS NOVEL, which also features a bi-vocational pastor/priest, Father Ray, sometimes called The Lone Ranger, who spends as much time tending his flock of sheep as he spends in ministry to his human flock. Father Ray is called both to a spiritual ministry and a personal mission to encourage local food production and marketing for the preservation of agrarianism, traditional farming and a rural lifestyle.
WHAT “POPE MARY” AND FATHER RAY EVENTUALLY CHAMPION is both unorthodox by modern standards, and refreshingly familiar to scholars of the early Christian Church. Readers will either scratch their heads in puzzlement or erupt in holy jubilation as the tables are turned on the clergy hierarchy and a rural church not only survives,
but also thrives.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Gene Logsdon is the author of 25 books in fiction, nonfiction, biography and art. His most recent book to date is Holy Shit: Managing Manure To Save Mankind. He also writes a popular blog at OrganicToBe.org, is a regular contributor to Farming magazine and The Draft Horse Journal, and writes an award-winning weekly column in the Cary, Ohio, Progressor Times. He lives and farms in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, with his wife Carol. To access the publisher of Pope Mary and the Church of Almighty Good Food, go to this website: www.wickerparkpressbooks.com