“How can you tell when you’ve crossed the meridian that divides hatred and forgiveness? Is it when the dirt path beneath your feet, frozen by hard winter’s bitter wind, softens under summer’s grace? Or is it when words you’ve worked so hard long to free stroll out of the prison of your heart without your help and to you amazement speak for themselves?”
So asks Ian Morgan Cron, husband, dad of three, Episcopal priest, and a son of an alcoholic CIA agent, at the end of his memoir Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me, a memoir that chronicles his journey of 50 years to make sense of his father and peace with him as well.
Written in a blend of both first and third person narrative, it is a story about cloak and dagger of the relational kind and not the kind related to national security. It is about a son and father who lives in privileged areas of the county but among such persons because of the precariousness of their financial status. It also about grace, God’s grace, showing up in the words of wise priests, in the stain of a leaky ceiling, in the flashback memories of drunken binges, and in the firm but loving stand of a counselor who ‘speaks the truth in love’ regarding Cron’s un-admitted alcoholism. It is a book about parenting and the challenges of finding grace and meaning in dysfunction and addiction that exist in families of all backgrounds.
Cron’s honest telling of not just his father’s life, who was a mystery and whose work was a mystery as he describes the moments after his father’s memorial service, but his own, includes some key insights into family life for today that are valuable for anyone and everyone: “Boys without fathers, or boys with fathers who for whatever reason keep their love undisclosed, begin life without a center of gravity. They float like astronauts in space, hoping to find ballast and a patch of earth where they can plant their feet and make a life. Many of us who live without these gifts that only a father can bestow go through life banging from guardrail to guardrail, trying to determine why our fathers kept their love nameless, as if ashamed.”
I had trouble putting this book down and I read it in only a few days because Cron’s story is one that many persons will relate to, as I could in parts. A worthy read and one that I think should be read by those who are preparing for ministry due to the subject matter and the need for pastors to be aware of their own family dynamics.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free as an ebook from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program called Book Sneeze (www.booksneeze.com) I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”