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The recovery of the author's childhood beliefs in a time of stress is the story here. An associate professorship lost, two marriages failed, five children to care for, working by day as a librarian and by night as a uniformed guard--these are the circumstances that, catalyzed by the sight of a colleague's loaded and unattended revolver, gave rise to the question ""is it all worth while?"" The meetings of a Catholic Pentecostal group provided a weekly refuge of sorts, where nostalgia for childhood pieties flourished alongside much rethinking. The author gradually accepted the group's support and identified her childhood religion with it. ""All spirit healings, one way and another, involve a healing of the memories"" represents the best of the book--good reading, told with perception and artifice. Her helpers--a university teacher, the mentors of the Pentecostal group--cannot be faulted; they are a joy to hear about. But around the edges of the reader's attention, the questions bubble up. Was the termination of the teaching post really such a onesided affair? She dichotomizes those who practice a life of prayer, and those, on the other hand, who believe in reform and social action. The Dorothy Day types, devout and conservative in theology, and pacifist and poverty-oriented in practice, might never have drawn breath. Great literature, it is alleged, comes from ""devout Christian faith""--C. S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Donne, Dryden, Arnold, Hopkins are among those offered as examples. That Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O'Neill, Farrell had ""fallen away"" was, like the exodus of others from the Roman obedience in recent years, just a matter of ""social climbing."" She may have run into a nest of Clang Birds but her main theme does not need this nonsense, and the blind venom in it calls the whole thing in question. But the book is likely to be read as an upbeat, personal story despite its faults.

Pub Date: May 20th, 1977
Publisher: Doubleday