Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The appeal of Father Brown

Arguing that Chesterton's Father Brown should be a role model for young Catholics, Michael Fischer describes the appeal of the fictional detective:
Fr. Brown resolves the seeming paradox of faith and reason in his person. While a man of the cloth, Fr. Brown utilizes rational thinking to solve the mysteries he stumbles upon. The unorthodox situations and crimes committed all have rational conclusions, and as the answer is unveiled, suddenly the disparate pieces all come together. But in contrast to the most popular detective of recent memory – Sherlock Holmes – Fr. Brown’s resolutions come from inductive, rather than deductive, reasoning; his surprising insights or revelations come from placing himself in the mindset of the criminal, or from a particularly small gesture or clue. In this, Fr. Brown’s faith really comes into its own, for his Catholic belief in egalitarian human sin, a comprehensible world, and small movements of the Spirit help remove biases and barriers to his thinking. ....

...Fr. Brown’s successes largely derive from his familiarity with sin. Fr. Brown attributes much of his understanding of criminals and their ways to his work with sinners: the Confessional, the city streets, the underbelly of human life. Therefore, he understands sin and the sinner: he can put himself into the mind of the criminal in order to determine how he himself would have committed the crime. ....

...Fr. Brown is an unlikely protagonist. Chesterton’s mysteries might be subtitled: “The Adventures of a Simple and Humble Man.” This parish priest detective usually does not appear as the protagonist or main character of the mystery, instead stumbling in unexpectedly or for some pedantic and unrelated reason. .... [more]
There is a new British television version of the Father Brown stories. The first season has already been broadcast there. May it appear here soon.

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