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The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene's novel about the Mexican state of Tabasco's virulent anti-church campaign in the s is a powerful statement.
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For what crime do they want you dead, you ask?

Lecture #1: The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

For being a priest. And you're the last one! No, this isn't the newest hit action movie. Set in a southern Mexican state during the s, the novel tells the story of a vice-ridden runaway priest, a tenacious police lieutenant who hunts him, and the inhabitants of the land whose lives are altered by the chase.

The Power and the Glory

It's sort of like The Fugitive with a drunken Harrison Ford and a lot of religion thrown in. You see, this was a time and a place in which being an active priest was a crime punishable by death. Yep, you read that right. The Roman Catholic Church, once the official religion of Mexico, had been suppressed by the government. The church and the state each had their ideas about how society ought to be run, and their ideas didn't dance to the same beat.

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They didn't just step on each other's toes—they stomped on them. Adding insult to injury, the fugitive priest is hardly a hero. He's called a "whisky priest"—a derogatory term for morally weak or corrupt clergy. This priest drinks a lot, as you'd expect, but he's also cowardly and unrepentant for many of his mortal sins.

He's not the stuff martyrs are made of, to put it kindly.

The novel, published in , is widely praised as a masterful work of literature. Time Magazine named it one of the best English language novels since It has been adapted for both film and television, with legends such as Lawrence Olivier and Henry Fonda in the lead role. Greene was a Catholic convert, but his novel drew criticism and even gasp!


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Greene responded that his publisher held the copyright, he made no changes, and the controversy faded. The perils of life before Twitter and 24 hour cable news.

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If it happened today we'd have kept that scandal going for a long while. Anyhow, if you enjoy taking a leisurely stroll through the intersection of politics, religion, and scandalous personalities—all within a tense cat-and-mouse thriller—then you can't go wrong with The Power and the Glory. Tuned in to cable news lately? Scanned your Twitter feed?

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Eyeballed posts by that Facebook friend who never tires of politics? If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, then you probably know there's an escalating controversy in the United States about the meaning and limits of religious freedom—which is just as much a can of worms now as it was then. Companies have objected to requirements in the new healthcare law that they offer insurance coverage for birth control, bakers have refused to make cakes for same-sex weddings Let them eat cake!


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Named one of the best novels of the twentieth century by Time magazine, it stands today as his masterpiece. Mexico, the late s: A paramilitary group has outlawed the Catholic Church and been executing its clergy. Now the last priest is on the run, fleeing not just an unshakable police lieutenant but also his own wavering morals. Timeless and unforgettable, The Power and the Glory is a stunning portrait of both physical and spiritual survival by a master dramatist of the human soul.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world.

The Power and the Glory

Graham Greene was born in While at Balliol College, Oxford, he published his first book of verse. The energy and grandeur of his finest novel derive from the. Also by Graham Greene. About Graham Greene Graham Greene was born in