cover image DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR? Religious Calling, the Priesthood, and My Father

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR? Religious Calling, the Priesthood, and My Father

Minna Proctor, . . Viking, $24.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-670-03326-3

Very few self-described "secular Jews" are confronted with the conundrum of a father who aspires to be a priest in the Episcopal Church. Fortunately, Proctor is a dogged and accomplished detective and an unobtrusive and appropriately revealing narrator. Raised mainly by her mother in a nonreligious household, she uses the occasion of her divorced father's revelations about his religious odyssey to explore the history, theology and politics of Christian vocation from the perspective of a nonbelieving daughter. In addition to allowing the reader into the richness of an ongoing dialogue with her father, Proctor offers wide-ranging research and interviews with participants in the process used in the Episcopal Church to discern whether candidates are called to ordained ministry. This is one of the book's real strengths, but it may pose a problem for readers who are more interested in the general topic of vocation than in specific denominational details. Near the beginning of this unique and often gripping chronicle, Proctor comments that she is compelled to "organize, ascribe and explain" her intellectual and emotional inner life. One senses throughout that she has, in this exhaustive process, found a way to reconcile the enigmas of an oft-absent father with her own search for answers to another deep riddle: the mystery of the cords that bind us into families. (Feb. 5)