Book review: The Holy Family

by Alan Michael Wilt

★★★★★

How does one survive the loss of a daughter after outgrowing the Church? Where does one find comfort once belief in heaven has eroded?

Fiction: Martin Halsey grew up a Catholic, and retains an appreciation for ritual and church atmosphere, but can no longer believe. As an actor, Martin loves participating in the annual Christmas pageant, because he enjoys the inspiring story of Jesus. Yet he can no longer read the Bible as if it were meant to be understood literally. The book’s title, The Holy Family, refers not to Martin’s family but to Joseph, Mary and Jesus, in their “thoroughly human, earthy, and earthly presence” … the only way Martin can appreciate the holy trio.

Married now to an atheist and having raised two wonderful daughters, life is good … until tragedy strikes. Martin’s best friend is baffled at how to lend comfort, and often reminds Martin of the help that a belief in God can provide, but wisely refrains from pushing. As the Christmas pageant approaches, Martin must come to terms with his loss in his own way, with his own spiritual understanding, and without succumbing to what he considers merely a comforting fantasy.

This book is a respectful and thought-provoking peek into atheist thinking, without sacrificing an appreciation for the Bible. It’s gripping and deeply personal, one of those tales that will touch each reader in a different way. Definitely recommended.

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