Review by Anne Day
From devout ten-year-old performing the part of Jesus in a primary school play to blaspheming, undergraduate atheist, Monica Dux and her attitude to the Catholic Church changed profoundly over a decade. Eventually, she calmed down and was just 'lapsed'. Then, on a family trip to Rome, her young daughter expressed a desire to be baptized. Monica found herself re-examining her own childhood and how Catholicism had shaped her. Was it really out of her system or was it in her blood for life?
In Lapsed, Monica sets out to find the answer. Her investigations lead her to test a miracle cure in Lourdes and visit the grave of a headless Saint who claimed to be married to Christ (and wore a wedding ring made of his foreskin to prove it). She speaks to canon lawyers, abuse survivors and even a nun who insists that the Virgin Mary starts her car every morning.
Review by Kerry:
Statistics are slippery at the best of times, it is easy being a Catholic in a census. Just tick a box. Done. However as Germaine Greer states” I am still a Catholic, I just don’t believe in God. I am an atheist Catholic – there are a lot of them around.” And there are, in Lapsed Monica Dux examines her own journey from convent to lapsed to ticking the ‘no religion box’.
Dux admits writing this book was cathartic as she tried to understand how much of the ritual of Catholism is ingrained in her identity, and if she was being unfair refusing to allow her daughter to attend a Catholic school. Can you align yourself with an institution that is at odds with your own moral code, why does she still feel the urge to pray? Calling on her own personal and familial experiences and research from both Catholic and non-Catholic sociologists Dux explores what it is to be a lapsed Catholic.
Having been educated by nuns in the early aftermath of Vatican 2, I recognise Monica’s suburban church - Spiritus Sanctus. I admit I found our gory martyrs tales riveting and credit them with my love for the black absurdist humour of Monty Python. I was less enamoured with the liturgical dances and guitar masses, but then I am tone deaf. Lapsed won’t be for everyone but for me it definitely struck a chord. Dux’s levity made me laugh while her honesty made me pause and re-examine my own box ticking position.
'Enlightening, forensic and laugh-out-loud funny' - JANE CARO
A frank, funny and heartfelt exorcism of our need to believe in a man in the sky' - SHAUN MICALLEF