New in Catholic fiction: Passport

We’re all very familiar with the lack of programming for Catholics on television or in the movie theatre. You turn on the TV, and while there is a show called Monk – it’s not about what you might think. Now the real Monk is fairly family friendly, but turn to almost any network in prime time, and it won’t take you long to find something that’s morally questionable if not downright objectionable. Some times, it’s pretty obvious. Other times if it’s an enjoyable show, you don’t really think about. It’s entertainment, and as an adult Catholic, you simply don’t live in the typical way dramatised in the sitcom world. You just don’t see the stars of the silver screen (or plasma screen) carrying their cross and attempting to answer the call to holiness. You almost never see the argument for Catholicism presented in any positive manner.

Because of this, it was a pleasure for me to read Passport, by first-time novelist Christopher Blunt. The well-paced book describes the life of Stan Eigenbauer, a young Catholic in the city of Chicago, who discovers the true meaning of the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and most of all, love. 

When we first meet Stan, he leads a comfortable life unaccustomed to challenge, change, or controversy. He’s a by-the-book Catholic who hasn’t really had the opportunity in life to understand why following the book is important. But early on in the novel, he falters, and this begins the extraordinary story of his trials to care for the woman he loves at great sacrifice to himself.

Stan’s daily commitment to carrying his cross challenges the reader to consider their own commitments. The novel is in many ways an instruction on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body told through the lives of Stan and the woman he loves. The narrative flows well, the story keeps the reader turning the page, and while there were some instances when I could predict what turn the plot would take, the end caught me very much by surprise.

In short, we need more novels like this. Stan’s life presents the Catholic view of marriage in a divorce-ridden world, where love is often reduced to lust, whether on the page or on the television screen. It’s not the type of novel I would typically pick up off the shelf, but I’m very glad I did. While not perfect, there are, as mentioned, occasional predictable moments and the dialogue at times could be a little smoother, not to mention that Stan is a Cubs fan (Go White Sox!!). All in all though, this is an excellent first novel that answers a real need in the Church – a realistic, eminently readable representation of Catholics living out the call to holiness. 

For more information on the novel Passport by Christopher Blunt, see the book’s website.

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