My sister recommended Patricia Lockwood’s memoir Priestdaddy to me, and since she rarely recommends a book on both phone and Goodreads, I thought it would be worth the read. She said that Lockwood’s description of religious practice and extremism, combined with faith versus doubt, would really resonate with me. She was absolutely right. I’ve talked before about growing up and currently practicing the Seventh-day Adventist faith, so I won’t rehash that discussion. I’ll just add that there are more extremist pockets of fringe religion that make me cringe, and some of these pockets were explored in Priestdaddy.
Lockwood begins the book as an adult. She and her husband have to move back in with her parents, since he has had a host of health problems. We find out that her father is a Catholic priest, since a special dispensation allows him to be a married priest if he converted from another faith (I didn’t know that). Her parents are both devout and practicing Catholics, and Lockwood delves into the strange and mystical aspects of faith that her husband, an agnostic, doesn’t quite understand. Hers was a life of strange contrasts—the American Midwest, her father’s religious and personal eccentricities, and her mother’s forebodings of disaster. We get stories from her childhood and adulthood as she grapples with a faith she no longer is certain about.
My sister was right in that I could resonate with many episodes from the memoir. I won’t recount the weirder tales of faith experience, but I think we can all see some of them out in the open since the election of Donald Trump. There are plenty of people with extremist views in a mainstream setting that give the rest of us who are liberal or moderate a bad name. This book is incredibly well-written, funny, and unflinching in its approach. You can definitely glimpse Lockwood’s poetic voice in her writing. I want to check out her poetry, as well.
Cross-posted to my blog.