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Catholic Review of: Sinner

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Author:  Lino Rulli

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This item received 5 stars overall. (12/31/2011)

Orthodoxy: Completely orthodox.
Reading Level: Intermediate

 Dorian SpeedBy Dorian Speed (TX) - See all my reviews


A spiritual journey for the rest of us

Evaluator Comments

Lino Rulli is the real deal. Fans of his "The Catholic Guy" show are familiar with his self-deprecating humor and honest approach to sharing his faith. Both longtime listeners and those unfamiliar with his work will enjoy Sinner, an autobiography which doesn't shrink from the ups and downs of living out one's faith in today's sometimes hostile culture.

This is a conversion story in the sense of the daily examination of conscience, the constant turning away from sin, and the often difficult decision to continue down the path of faith even when the way may be unclear. Which isn't to say that it's all penitence and weeping; in fact, Rulli's trademark wit makes this an enjoyable, often lighthearted travelogue through his spiritual journey. Cradle Catholics will enjoy his recounting of his childhood experiences and may recognize themselves in stories like this one:

I received the sacrament of Confirmation in eighth grade - and then promptly left the Church.

I"ve got a group photo of my classmates and me following our confirmation by Bishop Robert Carlson...I'm on the edge of the shot looking to run away. He had confirmed me and in doing so gave me the freedom to leave the Church. Yay!

What our confirmation teacher said was: "You are confirmed in the Catholic faith. you are adults. This means the faith is your own and it's up to you to live it out."

What we heard was: "Your parents aren't going to force you to come to church anymore."

It's refreshing to read an account of a spiritual life with ups and downs, rather than a straightforward trajectory of growing in holiness. Because Rulli is both honest in talking about his own failings and hopeful in emphasizing the power of grace and the importance of repentance, his story makes him - and the Catholic life - very authentic and approachable.

I think this would be a terrific book to share with a young adult who may have bolted out of Mass with the same enthusiasm Rulli describes in his post-Confirmation self. He talks about Confession frequently in the book without ever giving the reader a knowing look that says, "when's the last time you darkened the door of a church, hmmm?" And he uses humor without being irreverent towards anyone but himself...and a few other characters who pop up throughout the book.

The book isn't a strictly chronological autobiography, and at times the back and forth leaps in time can be a little confusing. (Or perhaps I just don't read closely enough.) I would have liked to read more about his life in showbiz, too, but that's probably beside the point of the narrative he's presenting. I would recommend this for older teenagers and above, as there's one story about, well, a lady of the evening, and a slight sprikling of salty language. Did I mention its authenticity? But it's enjoyable, often poignant, and very relatable - highly recommend.

You can purchase this book here.

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