A new novel tells how neo-paganism came to infect parts of religious life
A review of
In This Vale of Tears
AD2000: A Journal of Religious Opinion
582 Queensberry St
North Melbourne VIC 3051
Those readers who recall my earlier review (March 2005) of Gerard Wilson’s The Castle of Heavenly Bliss and subsequently read and enjoyed that book will need no urging from me to purchase the second volume of the Winterbine trilogy, In This Vale of Tears.
If anything this book is an even more gripping read than its predecessor while its characters are more subtly drawn, with some shades of grey amid the blacks and whites of the “bad guys” and “good guys”.
Gerard Wilson has undoubted skills as a novel writer in the manner he sets up a credible, interesting story-line, varied dramatic situations and lively dialogue. His own devout Catholicism, which permeates his writings, would not impress the politically correct powers that be of book publishing who prefer anti-Christian concoctions like The Da Vinci Code. Hence Wilson has had to self-publish and his books don’t sell in the millions.
However, for those who discover them, Wilson’s writings provide a solid antidote to the gross inaccuracies and religious prejudices of authors like Dan Brown.
The present book is especially topical in light of growing concerns about neo-pagan influences in some of the major religious orders, as already reported on in AD2000. This disturbing trend has been documented in recent years in such books as Margaret Mills’ Woman Why Are You Weeping? and Donna Steichen’s Ungodly Rage.
In this Vale of Tears provides a dramatic outline of how these influences insinuated themselves into religious life before and after the Second Vatican Council. It shows how seemingly devout, sensible religious women could be gradually attracted to un-Christian ideas.
What is depicted in the book is by no means exaggerated as can be verified on a number of Internet websites today. The activities occurring at Brisbane’s Womenspace are just one example, with their mix of pre-Christian paganism, nature worship and radical feminism.
The following lines from the finale to In this Vale of Tears, reflect what is unfortunately all too true in parts of today’s Church.
“When all seemed prepared, the large black robe raised a hand. ‘Sisters, we are here in this outstanding location for the first time, feeling the very force and energy of nature’s might, to celebrate that great mother’s generous abundance. Let us proceed in joy, happiness, and love. Sister Jannie will now dance a recently created dance honouring the fruits of the earth, and harnessing the energy that pours out of the depths into our souls, lighting that divine spark of omnipotence in each of us’.”
Novel look at roots of the crisis in faith
A review of
In This Vale of Tears
Caroline Chisholm Library
3/358 Londsdale St
Melbourne VIC 3000
This novel provides an intriguing foreshadowing of contemporary events in the Church and in secular society.
It starts in 1956 and follows the lives of the main characters for several years.
Through fictional characters and events it shows the clash of philosophies which has since become so much more obvious.
The principal characters are several young women who enter a convent in 1956. The story follows their struggles and the development of their personalities and ideas.
One leaves and later marries. Another, who had broken her engagement to enter the convent, finds herself at university studying under the philosopher who had been her fiance. A third develops a radical lifestyle, including goddess worship.
The characters are well-drawn, their interaction is absorbing, and the different standpoints come out clearly.
Convent life in the 1950s is described clearly, with the tensions already emerging which would become critical in the years following Vatican II.
This volume is the second in a trilogy, of which the first — The Castle of Heavenly Bliss — is set, for the most part, chronologically later. Both volumes are in the Caroline Chisholm Library.
Situated in Victoria, the locations are vividly presented, particularly the fictional country town of Binawarra.
The author has a gift for portraying scenery, events and people in a manner that makes them come alive in the reader’s mind. He maintains one’s interest throughout, as the story moves towards its climax.
Gerard Charles Wilson has an orthodox Catholic outlook, with a keen awareness of the ideological and moral problems in current society and of how they have unfolded in recent times. I look forward to the final volume of the trilogy by this talented Australian author.
By Millicent on Goodreads
I don’t usually review books but I was lucky enough to win this book through Goodreads so I thought I would share just a few small thoughts on it.
I really enjoyed In This Vale of Tears, it is not usually the type of book I would read but I thought perhaps it was time to expand my book horizons, and I’m glad I did.
The characters where all interesting and developed well and I found myself really putting myself in their situations regardless of if they related to me or not. In saying that though, although it is heavily themed with Catholicism, you find much more out of it than just religion, as I think most of the issues that the characters are dealing with, most people would be able to relate to.
The imagery was beautiful and it was a reminded to me that I should be reading more books set in Australia.
Overall an enjoyable read!