Monday, December 3, 2007


From time to time I recommend books on this site but this is the first time I was asked to do so I thought I’d warn you by announcing, “BOOK REVIEW.”

Years ago one of the jobs I had included having to go to yard sales (can you believe it?) and from time to time personal treasures would be purchased. One of these treasures was an ancient, leather bound book by the title, “Night Scenes in the Bible.” In it, the author used his imagination to fill in gaps in the Biblical stories with pious fiction to lead the reader deeper into the mysteries of otherwise well known passages. One story in particular that really stayed with me over the years was “The Road to Emmaus.” I was in the seminary making a private holy hour and reading this book and was transported so deeply into the story that from that point on it became one of my favorite accounts from Scripture. It helped me see the story from different angles and place myself squarely in the prose.

The Shepherds’ Prayer; A Christmas Novel” by Richard M. Barry does much the same thing. I must say that it never occurred to me that good citizenry of Bethlehem may not been overly thrilled about the Messiah being born in their town. Barry says of it, “. . . there was also great sadness that resulted in Bethlehem when Herod ordered the killing of all the male babies. Not much has been written or is ever said about that traumatic event and how it must have impacted the people of Bethlehem and their attitudes about the poor Galilean child who was the target of Herod’s wrath.” Don’t worry though; it is not a gruesome tale but one full of hope and joy, a tale truly for the Christmas season.

The term “novel” however might be a bit of an overstatement. When I was contacted they actually wanted to send two different books and when I heard the term “novel” I recommended they send only one as I would not have time to read and review two before Christmas. Well, as it turns out it is much shorter book than anticipated and the average reader could knock it out in a sitting or two. It is definitely not a literary masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a good contemplative story. I would probably recommend it more for younger readers who enjoy reading or for families that read and listen to stories together. If I had a family I would probably enjoy reading them a chapter at night (there are eight chapters) but as it is, I do think I’ll send copies to my Godchildren. There is a nice gift plate inside the book for such purposes.

If you go to their website HERE you can find out more about the book, read the first two chapters to make sure you would like it and if so, order copies of it or of the audio version.


Jeff Miller said...

I had the same opinion. Not a great book, but a good book and a enjoyable story worth reading.

Fr. V said...

Thanks. I hoped I wasn't too strong.