on 27 March 2008
In his latest book Irish columnist John Waters writes about his renewed belief in God following many years of agnosticism. The book is a combination of personal memoir covering the author's early years and subsequent addiction to alcohol, and a detailed analysis of current social and cultural thinking.
Although very well written, Lapsed Agnostic reads more like a collection of essays than a coherent book. In some chapters, the underlying theme is sometimes stretched beyond breaking point, especially in a short piece on the late George Best. However, the excellent chapter that follows, The Unquenchable Thirst, contains a devastating critique of modern society, based on the author's own dark journey through alcoholism.
Elsewhere, Waters writes about his puzzling addiction to shirt-buying. The reader could be forgiven for seeing this as another manifestation of an addictive personality. However, the author tries to rationalise his compulsion as a justifiable reaction against religion's tendency to make him feel guilty for being affluent when so many are starving.
For those who enjoy John Waters' thoughtful and original columns in The Irish Times, Lapsed Agnostic will provide plenty of mental stimulation. Perhaps if the author had spent more time drawing together and developing the various threads he introduces, he might have produced a modern spiritual classic.
on 6 October 2008
Waters has written about his spiritual journey in a very down-to-earth, non-preachy way that is accessible to anybody who grew up in a Catholic culture in the '60s,70's or 80's. I found that his clear vision and willingness to let himself be seen, helped untangle many concepts that were never meant to get snarled up the way they did.It is ultimately uplifting in the sense that it shows how perfection is an ideal we should strive for while imperfection is a reality that we should learn to deal with and not be scandalized when we find it in others and in ourselves.