White Smoke: A Novel of Papal Election Mass Market Paperback – Apr 15 1997
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The Vatican and the New York Times are just two of the sacred cows milked for all they're worth by Andrew M. Greeley in White Smoke. Greeley's starting point--the openness and tolerance espouse by Pope John XXIII in 1963 has, in the intervening decades, been squashed by more conservative forces. Greeley's ending point: the election of a liberal pope who is not only a pro-feminist, but who was once married. In between, he skewers the New York Times in the person of correspondent Dennis Michael Mulloy, a "typical Irish Catholic journalist--magical with words, a fall-down drunk, divorced, fallen away from the church." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
A priest's collar adorns Greeley's neck, of course, and the title refers to the smoke issued from the Vatican when a new pope is chosen-but you don't have to be Catholic to enjoy the author's wise and witty latest (after Irish Gold). For all the ecclesiastical trappings, the real story here is "the ancient and honorable art of politics, second only to poetry in Plato's view of things." The source of that line is frequent Greeley narrator Auxiliary Bishop John Blackwood (Blackie) Ryan of Chicago, who spends almost as much time keeping his superior, Sean Cardinal Cronin, healthy as he does politicking during the election of the new pope. The just-deceased pope isn't named, but Greeley leaves little doubt that he's the present pontiff. As the cardinals assemble to elect a successor, the fictional, right-wing Corpus Christie Institute joins forces with the real-life Opus Dei and the Curia to block the candidacy of the leading liberal candidate. These conservative forces employ electronic eavesdropping, rumor-mongering and character assassination, but they aren't quite up to Ryan, who learned his politics in Chicago. Ryan, whose commentary alternates with other first- and third-person viewpoints, offers lively takes on the Church ("more often good theater these days than good religion"), the American hierarchy ("who didn't understand yet that a little bit authoritarian was like a little bit pregnant") and the cardinals' mission: "to elect a Pope who will not stand in the way of either the Holy Spirit or Jesus' message of love." Included in the high-spirited storytelling are some rare snippets of Church history regarding married popes, early Christian women involved in Church rites and so on. Greeley knows his material and his opinions, and sets both into delicious spins here. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
comical, and an ability to spin a tale. Those love stories and poems and we know so much about him and his beloved chicago and the christian community there that if not for him we would not know the great neglect and injustice this city has been dealt. What other community would take up the cause of so many, who've been given a bad hand, or abused, or rights infringed on and have the decency to write about it in the press..and Pastor Greeley takes up the common rights of christians in their community an ancient saying comes to mind"not that we lord it over your faith,
but we work with you for your joy." That famous quip from st paul admirable expresses what a christian community should be is that what your christian community is, any person who does not ultimately have your joy or well being in mind but is more interested in your obeying a set of rules is sucha person really a christian? This idea and the death of a pope, brings him to Rome and the book is not about organized crime (he finds Rome a safe place and not
murderous as you might think)and why is it we never hear about organized crime in any other country? That too is mass media serving our community? ON the scene at the election of the pope is a large media network, and here we have cable news as it covers the papal election as compard to the scribe who has only his pen, or a much smaller media organization. He eats at less expensive places and does not have all the frills and associations..he is just their to give the god's honest truth.Read more ›
This book is also a suspenseful mystery, though not as well written in this regard as the romantic. What Greeley does best is give you a good lesson in history, politics and present day sociological makeup up the present-day Catholic Church. Warts and all.
Many conservitive Catholics would probably find this book offensive, though most persons and groups are fictitious (except for Opus Dei, the conservitive Catholic organization). I believe most active Catholics feel that any institution needs to be scrutinized and critiqued. All organizations are run by humans and all humans are fallible. Including the Pope and especially his bishops and cardinals.
Bottom line for this book--it's a decent read, though readers unfamiliar with Greeley's style should be cautious, because it can seem like it is jumping around. It is not the best of mysteries, nor romances, nor even lessons on the Catholic religion--but it could be worse. It is only a point-of-view and not the only one in this universal church. It is a view of what "could" happen and may be close to what might happen during the next conclave. It's entertaining enough as a relaxing summer read, or a quick read on a long plane trip. Though don't ask it to be anything else.
I learned a bit about the Papal election process, and I learned a LOT about what a particular part of the priesthood thinks about the current and previous Popes. That was interesting to me as a "small town Catholic boy".
However, as other reviewers have noted, the characterization is paper thin, the plotting is silly, the "bad guys" in the Roman curia are mainly faceless and without redemption, and the "good guys" are completely without fault. I'd go further to add that the bias shown by the supposedly objective reporters in the novel is so severe that the characters cease to be believable in their own right, and become "mouthpieces" for the author.
Now, for fans of Greeley, I'm sure this will be a satisfying read... For those neutral to his particular style, (and it can get really thick, particularly the dialogue) I suspect it might not be. Before I picked up "White Smoke", the last time I read a Greeley novel was over 12 years ago. I liked that book. I don't much care for this one.
In "White Smoke," Father Greeley repeats many of the errors of his other writings. He is a charming person and I think he truly believes that his prescription is the antidote for all that ails the Catholic Church.
He is, of course, wrong. Father Greeley's mistake, as always, is to assume the absence of any transcendent moral truth that goes beyond sociological studies and the whims of American Catholics, seduced by the material pleasures of the late 20th century. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church is no more out of step with the people than Jesus Christ was out of step with the people who put Him to death or the American Abolitionists were out of step with those who believed slavery to be moral.
The teaching authority of the Church is not to be sniffed at by those who desire acceptance at Harvard cocktail parties. It is a real thing. Vatican II, contrary to popular belief, did not displace the pope and the magisterium as the teachers of the Catholic Church and replace them with the opinions of American Catholics.
White Smoke is an amusing story- how accurately it describes the conclave no one can know but those who have actually participated. Hopefully, Greeley's predictions of a morally lazy pope will not come to pass. John Paul II has been of the great leaders of our time and one of the greatest Catholic teachers in the whole history of the Church.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
It may be unfair of me to rate and review this book, since I didn't finish it. But the fact that I couldn't get past page 50 or so tells it all. Read morePublished on Nov. 15 2003 by Barbara B.
It is fiction of course. It can not be otherwise for what it contends may happen is IMPOSSIBLE! Many reviewers are upset. Upset perhaps but they should not be worried. Read morePublished on Nov. 12 2003 by Carl of Veritas Inc.
Blackie, with some electronic help and the assistance of a Black Roman Princesss, prevents some ultra right wing skulduggery in the election of a new Pope. Read morePublished on Oct. 18 2003 by Hugh Curtin
Vatican liberals plant stories in major U.S. media and portray anybody who disagrees with them as crazy assassins who'll stop at nothing to get a more moderate pope elected. Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2002
This was the first Andrew Greeley novel I've read, and I found it more than a little disappointing. There are effectively two levels of characterization here: All the... Read morePublished on Aug. 27 2001 by D. A. Hosek
This is the first Greeley novel I have read. It was a little hard to get into his style of writing at first, but then I couldn't put it down. Read morePublished on April 16 2001
I enjoyed most of the book, but would have appreciated it if Mr. Greeley's editor would have reworked the book a little. Read morePublished on Oct. 2 2000 by Janet Stedman
A tiresome novel of Vatican intrigue that's way short on the intrigue. All of the "good" characters are attractive, intelligent, liberals who are either agnostics or refer to God... Read morePublished on Jan. 20 2000 by Aubrey McLean