"A brave and eye-opening memoir by a writer who has stood on both sides of the wall between the public and the Catholic Church."– Kirkus Reviews
A memoir of the disillusionment and growth by a lapsed Catholic who learned of the church’s failings.
Moody (Seattle and the Demons of Ambition, 2004, etc.) once saw the Catholic Church as more of a home to him than his actual house. Eager to find a path to righteousness and inspired by the allure of a closer relationship with God, he threw himself into the care of the priests in the 1960s. But as the clergy sex-abuse scandals came to public light in the 1990s, he learned, to his alarm, that at a seminary he attended, 11 priests had abused hundreds of students for more than a quarter-century. The revelations prompted him to re-examine the life he once led and the men he respected and to see in a new and unsettling light that vulnerable time when he and his classmates had scant knowledge of their sexuality and perceived the behavior of the priests around them as beyond reproach. With the benefit of hindsight, Moody describes how secrets of the church remained hidden, even as he and his seminary friends bore witness to acts that later appalled him. As Moody reflects on the seminarians’ seclusion and ignorance of many aspects of life, he sees ways in which the church kept the priests’ misconduct hidden, but he nonetheless realizes that he had a hand in enabling behavior he now deplores. In this memoir, he interweaves reminiscences with snippets from notes he took and letters he sent to his family while in seminary. Together, they describe his growing awareness of horrifying memories with searing candor and a dawning sense of complicity that cut to the core of his feelings.
A brave and eye-opening memoir by a writer who has stood on both sides of the wall between the public and the Catholic Church.
Seattle's reputation as an agnostically enlightened outpost—anti-establishment, anti-materialist, anti-upward-mobility, a laid-back and civil burg with an economy designed for people with no measurable drive—has been severely tested over the past two decades.
Moody (The Visionary Position, 1999, etc.) recounts here his own immersion into the whirlpool of Silicon dollars: thanks to Microsoft, where once the citizens had little money and a lot of time, now the opposite was asserting itself. Starbucks, Amazon, high-tech upstarts, natural grandeur . . . the city was hailed as a mecca for innovative personalities. But persistent was the thrum of discontent between the high-rents and low-rents, the embrace of celebrity and the embedded culture that reflected “a psychological manifestation of our meteorological conditions.” Working as a writer for the Seattle Weekly, Moody took good advantage of his position to gauge the city's vicissitudes, the warring visions of the lesser and greater Seattlites that reached a critical mass with the WTO riots. Then came the economic bust, and Moody unveils a Seattle true to itself, a city that “always finds a way to knock itself off the perch of pretension it ascends every few decades or so.”
Of all the “sci-fi-come-true” ideas to emerge from computer research, one of the most intriguing is virtual reality (VR). Here’s a look at the progress to date of this high-tech grail quest. Virtual reality is the term (coined in 1989) for a computer-generated “world” with which the user can interact as if he were actually part of it, ideally with no awareness that the experiences are all created by the machine. Entertainment and education (to mention only the most obvious areas) would be utterly transformed by its full implementation. Perhaps not surprisingly, the original impetus for developing such a system came from the military, with flight simulators for high-performance jets. Moody (I Sing the Body Electronic: A Year with Microsoft on the Multimedia Frontier, 1995) focuses primarily on the University of Washington’s HIT lab, which he describes as “the world’s leading VR research center,” and its director Thomas A. Furness III. Furness got his start designing fighter plane cockpits during the Vietnam War. He left the air force and moved to Seattle in 1988, where he began assembling a team of young computer hotshots to find civilian applications for his ideas. Some of the wild-eyed hackers of those early days were eccentric even by Seattle standards, and their primary loyalties were often not to HIT but to their own visions. Furness’s management style did little to keep them in line: “Tom loved to burn out competent people,” said one of his former protÇgÇs years later. Despite this, there was continual progress toward the dream. Much of the early research was aimed at developing the VRD—a device to project computer images directly onto the retina, rather than force the user to wear an unwieldy helmet or goggles. Moody gives the reader a detailed, often highly amusing account of how far VR has come, and a hint of where it is likely to go. An eminently readable account of life on the cutting edge of cyberspace.
A journalist's bemused but revealing take on a hectic 12 months in the professional life of a Microsoft design/development team fashioning a new product intended to give the software colossus a jump start in the burgeoning multimedia market. Drawing on open access to the Generation X programmers assigned to the compact-disc project (an animated/illustrated encyclopedia for children known in-house as ``Sendak''), Moody offers a tellingly detailed and mercifully comprehensible account of the creative process in a field where the state of the art is comparatively primitive and decidedly fluid. As the author observes, developing CD-ROM software that provides TV-quality audio and video for use in a personal computer ``is a little like trying to show a movie on a calculator.'' In addition, members of the small task force had to deal with often bitter internal conflicts involving responsibility for slipped deadlines, the availability of resources, the product's bottom-line potential, and the great expectations of Bill Gates, the Washington-based company's nerdy but demanding co-founder. Working long hours in a chaotic environment pulsing to the rhythms of local rock bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, the young coders soldiered on. Technical obstacles were overcome or sidestepped (e.g., by sacrificing once-prized features), while personnel problems were resolved by chance (maternity leaves) and, in a couple of cases, transfers. Convinced he has been witness to an epic disaster, the author is frankly astonished to discover the soap-opera proceedings have yielded a commercial, bug-free product (dubbed Explorapedia) roughly on time and within budget. In a subsequent interview with Gates, Moody learns the Microsoft way is to focus its minions on an ideal combination of technical excellence and retail appeal that is kept just out of reach. An informative and engrossing glimpse of whats behind the small wonders of an advanced consumer society. (First printing of 50,000)