cover image The Shepherd

The Shepherd

Joseph F. Girzone / Author MacMillan Publishing Company $15.95

The Jesus figure, central to Girzone's earlier bestsellers, Joshua and Joshua and the Children , is once again introduced into a contemporary setting. This time he first appears as a young man dressed in baggy khakis, beckoning across a field, in the dream of a newly consecrated bishop, David Campbell. Bishop Campbell is known for his strict interpretation of church law, often at the cost of the human element. Profoundly changed by the dream and, soon after, by a meeting with ``that friendly stranger,'' Joshua, Campbell embarks on a radical plan to implement the message of Jesus. He dismantles the chancery, joins forces with his peers in other sects and forms small communities bound by faith, acts that court the wrath of his clerical enemies. Events reach boiling point over Campbell's ingenious maneuver, with the compliance of the pope, to retain a married priest. Late-night calls to a friendly pope and advice from Joshua (who dwells in a compound for the homeless) are prelude to the imaginative conclusion of Campbell's spiritual campaign. Girzone's undemanding prose and nondidactic approach to the implementation of the Christian message in modern times is beguiling. (Oct.)