Father William Graham is a Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. He is also Director of the Braegelman Program in Catholic Studies. He is pictured below on the throne of Pope Gregory XV.
Favorite or most influential books
1. I want to end my Way of the Pilgrim class (HIS/TRS/REN 2403) with Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957), a classic of the Beat Generation of writers. It is an account of Kerouac’s (“Sal Paradise”) travels with Neal Cassady (“Dean Moriarty”). The book could be considered a modern The Story of a Soul as it details a dissatisfied fringe of 20-somethings in the late 1940s and early 50s. Kerouac is reported to have said, “I’m not a beatnik, I’m a Catholic.” According to Kerouac, On the Road “was really a story about two Catholic buddies roaming the country in search of God. And we found him. I found him in the sky, in Market Street San Francisco (those 2 visions), and Dean (Neal) had God sweating out of his forehead all the way. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY OUT FOR THE HOLY MAN: HE MUST SWEAT FOR GOD. And once he has found Him, the Godhood of God is forever Established and really must not be spoken about.” Although Truman Capote famously said about Kerouac’s work, “That’s not writing, it’s typing”, I think this book must be read before one can earn a BA.
2. Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie by Ole Edvart Rolvaag
This 1924 classic details the lives and travails of a Norwegian pioneer family as they struggle in the Dakota Territory. It would have been an especially great read on the great blizzard day, but is a fine read anytime. The author was a Norwegian immigrant in 1896. He became a professor at St. Olaf's College, and wrote his novel in Norwegian.
3. The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality by Ronald Rolheiser
I have enjoyed reading this book with students.
4. I include my own two most recent books because I hope others will find them either influential or important. And interesting.
The Catholic Handbook: Essentials for the 21st Century by William C. Graham (Paulist, 2010); the book’s cover promises: “In his friendly, down-to-earth style, the sometimes humorous but unfailingly knowledgeable Fr. William C. Graham has answers …” Dr. Poole asked if I wrote that flattering comment myself. I did not.
The Catholic Handbook on Sex: Essentials for the 21st Century by William C. Graham (Paulist,2011).
What are you reading now?
Morgan Park: Duluth, US Steel, and the Forging of a Company Town by Arnold R. Alden (U of M Press, 2007);
Wrestling with God, poems by Kilian McDonnell (St. John’s University Press, 2011);
Hope: A Tragedy: A Novel, and Foreskin’s Lament: A Memoir, both by Shalom Auslander.
Desert Island Pick (this is your bonus title--the book that you can take along to the island for sheer reading pleasure):
The Saint John’s Bible, heritage edition: http://www.saintjohnsbible.org/
This way, I would have prayers, sermons, letters, poetry, songs, historical and biographical narratives, prophecies, myths, legends, folktales, allegories, proverbs and wise sayings, miracle stories, reports of visions and revelations, laws, and an extraordinary collection of art.