Friday, October 24, 2008

The Last Catholic Novelist: The grace-filled fiction of Minnesota's Jon Hassler

the cover of America, the Catholic magazine

W hen Jon Hassler died last spring at the age of 75, he was the last “Catholic novelist” in America. A long time ago a controversy raged in Catholic journals about whether a “Catholic novel” was possible. The “right” contended that a novel could be called “Catholic” if it presented orthodox Catholic teaching and edifying Catholic people (no “bad” priests) and was written by a “practicing” Catholic author. The “left” said that any quality novel was by definition “Catholic,” like James Joyce’s Ulysses. Read the rest by Father Andrew Greeley in America


Anonymous said...

While I cannot comment on Jon Hassler's novels since I have read none of them, I can comment on Andrew Greeley and St. John's University.

I have to admit, I am always suspect about any author (or anyone for that matter) who is honored by St. John's University. Being a graduate of this school, I am well acquainted with some of the values taught and promoted there and this is almost unanimously reflected in those they honor. Again, I cannot condemn Mr. Hassler, but I can Andrew Greeley and anything that he writes is suspect as he is a huge dissenter from the Church.

In this particular article, he praises everything from that "triangle" between St. John's, Notre Dam and Chicago. I can say that St. John's is filled with dissenters and false teachers which is probably why Mr. Greeley likes it so much. This can be seen in the harvest of bad fruit that the Abbey and University have produced over the past 40 years. Think of the number of monks, priests and staff there and at the prep school who have done so many horrible things and have never been brought to account for their actions as they are still there and free to do whatever they want. Think about the young man, Josh Guimond who disappeared from there a few years ago and has not been seen since. Think of the homosexual influence that pervades there and prevents authentic Catholic teaching on the subject. Think of what passes as Catholic theology there and the seminary that has no priest candidates. Add all this up and you have a morally corrupt institution where serious crimes are allowed to go unpunished while passing itself off as a Catholic university.

I would love to see someone write a book on what has transpired there over the past 40 years. That would be a book worth reading. If someone could get past the famous "Benedictine hospitality" they would find some very disturbing things there. For an idea about the depravity of this institution and the young man who disappeared check out the websites below. Don't get me wrong, not everyone there is corrupt or perverted, and I still love the place and visit often, but it needs to be purged of the evil influences that have caused these problems and it should not be held in high esteem by anyone.

With that said, I welcome any response regarding Jon Hassler and his book so I can be more knowledgible on the subject.

Unknown said...

You should read at least some of the novels of Hassler and J.F. Powers (who was a professor at SJU).

Maybe you will be the Next Catholic Novelist!

The Ironic Catholic said...

I think Hassler was a fine novelist, and well worth reading. Most people point to North of Hope as a classic Hassler Catholic novel. Personally, I really loved Staggerford, although the Catholic notes are subdied (if even present) in that novel.

I don't think he's the last one though. There's my husband, working on his novel.... :)

Unknown said...

I do believe, I.C., that Mitchell Hadley is racing the S.I.C. for that honorific of "Best Catholic Novelist."

Our Word said...


A belated thanks for the compliment. While I try to infuse my work with Catholic sensibilities however, I'm afraid most people won't find much of anything Catholic about the content and some of them might even be a little disturbed by the subject matter. The life of an artist...


Unknown said...

'Member when the big scare in life was (my, how times have changed!) "subliminal advertising" in the movies.

Where every 20th frame of the film would contain an "eat more popcorn" or "drink 7-Up" message to encourage more trips to the lobby for refills.

I do believe that Congress put off peace and "end poverty now" negotiations and proposed controls on investment banking so that they could pass legislation ensuring that evil theater managers wouldn't get an extra quarter out of us now and then.

I suspect a "Catholic-novelist-in-the-making" would have no qualms about slipping words like "transubstantiation", "kenosis",
"bimbo", "kerygma" and "liturgiewissenschaft" into the well-crafted soon to be best-selling novel.

(Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention there with the "bimbo" bit.)

Our Word said...


I've used words a lot stronger than "bimbo," my friend. :)