“You can be right. You can be dead right and bring death to all those around you.” Jean Vanier
Friday, 7 November 2014
Gerard W Hughes R.I.P.
Scottish Jesuit Gerard Hughes, who has died aged 90.
Gerry, as he was known, was that rare thing in the modern secular age: a genuinely popular spiritual writer. His book God of Surprises (1985) sold nearly 250,000 copies and was translated into more than 20 languages. For many readers, the book became a spiritual lifeline that kept them within the church at a time when they were thinking of leaving.
Key to his appeal was that he neither preached perfection nor held himself up as anything special. He was, in his own words, one of the many “bewildered, confused or disillusioned Christians who have a love-hate relationship with the church to which they belong, or once belonged”. His winning ability to see God in everyday life was complemented by his refusal to be bound by dogma or denomination.
His honesty about his own struggle to believe and his brushes with depression – his father was a depressive, two of his sisters took their own lives and he feared that he might follow them – attracted large numbers to his retreats. His record, while Catholic chaplain at Glasgow University from 1967 until 1975, of being twice dismissed by the local archbishop and twice reinstated made him something of a hero figure for those battling to promote discussion and debate within an authoritarian church.