THE DARK DISCIPLE by Russell B. Shaw


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A first novel, The Dare Disciple is a diligent though finally inadequate attempt to explore some ext manifestations of religious belief -- and unbelief. Christopher Gavin, a Messianic fanaticism, comes to a small non-sectarian college determined to use his position as a teacher to convert as many as possible to his particular brand of Catholicism. His major opposition comes from Mark Brodie, an ex-Catholic who is as dedicated to doubt as Gavin is to certitude. The central complication of the story derives from the fact that whereas there is never any question about the fallacy and hypocrisy of Gavin's position those who rightfully resist him often do so for the wrong reasons. Eventually when Gavin's influence over an impressionable student causes the boy to attempt suicide, the teacher's proselytizing is exposed for what it really is -- self aggrandizement. Gavin almost breaks up Brodie's marriage in the effort to convert his wife but it is Julie Brodie (who will become a Catholic despite everyone's worst efforts) who forces Gavin to the realization that his life is filled with hate. And he emerges as a new man. The conflicts are believable (even if all the characters are given to the same kind of motivational research) but the pat resolution is more suitable to a thesis than real life.

Publisher: Doubleday