Official Review: The Deacon by Thomas Fargnoli

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any non-fiction books such as autobiographies or political commentary books.
Forum rules
Authors and publishers are not able to post replies in the review topics.
User avatar
MsH2k
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1806
Joined: 31 Jul 2019, 11:11
Favorite Book: Crushing
Currently Reading: Magic Blue Rocks
Bookshelf Size: 177
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-msh2k.html
Latest Review: What They Bring by Willis

Official Review: The Deacon by Thomas Fargnoli

Post by MsH2k »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Deacon" by Thomas Fargnoli.]
Book Cover
3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


“Life doesn’t unfold as we plan. We all live unexpected lives in one way or another. But sooner or later, we have to decide how we are going to make the most of the unexpected life.” This quote by Catholic evangelist Matthew Kelly aptly reflects the life of author Thomas Fargnoli. In his book The Deacon: An Unexpected Life, Fargnoli shares his lovely, logical, and often lonely life as he reflects on his call to the Catholic diaconate and the heart-wrenching decision he made to leave this ministry after the unexpected death of his wife. The life events in this book are true, but the author (Tom in the book) tells his story to a fictitious newspaper reporter, Rick. The story is written in the first-person narrative from the perspective of Tom.

The cover attracted me to this book. Intrigued by the mysterious man in the rumpled coat, I wondered what kind of turbulence this deacon had faced in his life. Although a storm was brewing, his swagger exuded supernatural confidence.

As it turns out, the resilient man on the cover may not be the deacon. After reading this book, I think he could be Rick. I wonder what you’ll conclude after reading The Deacon.

In three interviews with Rick, Tom shared his love for his wife, his family, and God. As he described his path to becoming a deacon, I enjoyed learning about the requirements for ministry work in the Catholic Church. The dedication of the diaconate is commendable, but through Tom’s story, I also see how the rules placed on this group can be burdensome and contradictory. Tom was honest and gracious in telling his story.

One thing I did not like about the book was it got bogged down in details occasionally. For example, Tom was telling Rick about writing a letter to Pope Francis, and he brought the letter out to show him. At that point in the book, the letter was inserted in its entirety. Tom had just described the letter and events surrounding it, and reading the actual contents of the letter felt redundant. Other letters, cards, and homily outlines were also included verbatim in the text. While they added a level of authenticity, it would improve the pace of the story if they were moved to an appendix.

Tom incorporated his experience as an engineer, teacher, and magician into his role as a deacon. Surprisingly, magic was a valuable part of his ministry. He performed a few magic tricks for Rick and shared stories about how magic relaxed the people he visited, especially those in the hospitals. He even included magic tricks in his training on the seven sacraments. Throughout his interview with Rick, Tom explained ecclesiastical terms and scriptures as he illustrated a point. It would have been helpful if he also shared how he reconciled performing magic tricks with Bible scriptures such as Leviticus 19:26 and Galatians 5:19-21, which describe sorcery as sin. Some thought-for-thought Bible translations even use the word “magic” regarding sorcery. The difference between the references in the Bible and his entertaining craft was not an issue for him in his ministry, but using magic tricks as part of a teaching on biblical concepts was disconcerting to me.

I rate The Deacon 3 out of 4 stars. I deducted one star because of the number of grammatical errors and also because of the excessive details previously mentioned. The grammatical errors were not distracting, but another round of editing is suggested. This is a thoughtful, honest account of a man who loves God and believes God wants him to enjoy a life not only spiritually fulfilling but also physically and emotionally satisfying. I recommend this book to those who enjoy memoirs and to those interested in a glimpse of the life of a Catholic ex-deacon. There is a recurring theme of suicide in the story, so readers sensitive to this topic should consider skipping this book.

******
The Deacon
View: on Bookshelves
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."
Maya Angelou
User avatar
Josephe-Anne
Posts: 536
Joined: 15 Jul 2019, 13:55
2021 Reading Goal: 12
Favorite Author: George Orwell
Currently Reading: Please Don't Tell Cooper He's A Dog
Bookshelf Size: 270
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-josephe-anne.html
Latest Review: The Vanished by Pejay Bradley
fav_author_id: 1746

Post by Josephe-Anne »

I agree with your point that Tom doing magic tricks can be seen as contradictory to scripture. Indeed, the Church is full of corruption, cover-ups, and inconsistencies, but I am curious to find out what ultimately led Tom to leave his ministry.

Thank you for your honest review and recommendation.
:tiphat:
"A house without books is like a room without windows." :techie-studyinggray:
― Horace Mann
User avatar
MsH2k
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1806
Joined: 31 Jul 2019, 11:11
Favorite Book: Crushing
Currently Reading: Magic Blue Rocks
Bookshelf Size: 177
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-msh2k.html
Latest Review: What They Bring by Willis

Post by MsH2k »

Josephe-Anne wrote: 14 Jan 2021, 23:19 I am curious to find out what ultimately led Tom to leave his ministry.
I admired how Tom handled the many tough situations he faced. His resilience was encouraging to me. I hope your curiosity leads you to check out this book.

Thanks for your visit and your comment!
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."
Maya Angelou
User avatar
shravsi
Posts: 392
Joined: 01 Apr 2016, 01:01
Favorite Book:
Currently Reading: The Namesake
Bookshelf Size: 72
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-shravsi.html
Latest Review: Please Don't Tell Cooper He's A Dog by Michelle Lander Feinberg

Post by shravsi »

I don't think this book is for me but you have written a great review. Congrats :D
User avatar
Ayindelaw
Posts: 134
Joined: 29 Sep 2020, 20:13
2021 Reading Goal: 25
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 20
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-ayindelaw.html
Latest Review: The Way Things Go by Roz Ripley

Post by Ayindelaw »

I expected this book to be moody and serious--and it is! I'd say that as long as the magic trick does not involve demons or (evil) spirits, it's fine by me. Looks like a book worth reading. Thanks for your analysis, MsH2k
Innovations are usually the result of desperate times
kdstrack
Posts: 5817
Joined: 10 May 2017, 19:49
2021 Reading Goal: 105
Currently Reading: Skeletal
Bookshelf Size: 470
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kdstrack.html
Latest Review: Murder by Definition by Lynn G. Armstrong

Post by kdstrack »

This is an area of Catholic service that you don't often hear about. The death of a spouse is quite high on the stress list. This memoir sounds informative and eye opening. I liked the suggestions you made for future editions of the book. Great writing!
User avatar
MsH2k
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1806
Joined: 31 Jul 2019, 11:11
Favorite Book: Crushing
Currently Reading: Magic Blue Rocks
Bookshelf Size: 177
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-msh2k.html
Latest Review: What They Bring by Willis

Post by MsH2k »

shravsi wrote: 17 Jan 2021, 05:18 I don't think this book is for me but you have written a great review. Congrats :D
Thanks for your kind comment. I’m glad you stopped by.
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."
Maya Angelou
User avatar
MsH2k
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1806
Joined: 31 Jul 2019, 11:11
Favorite Book: Crushing
Currently Reading: Magic Blue Rocks
Bookshelf Size: 177
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-msh2k.html
Latest Review: What They Bring by Willis

Post by MsH2k »

Ayindelaw wrote: 17 Jan 2021, 11:06 I expected this book to be moody and serious--and it is! I'd say that as long as the magic trick does not involve demons or (evil) spirits, it's fine by me. Looks like a book worth reading. Thanks for your analysis, MsH2k
It is an eye-opening read. I learned a lot about the Catholic Church and suicide.

Thank you for your visit and your comment, Ayindelaw.
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."
Maya Angelou
User avatar
MsH2k
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1806
Joined: 31 Jul 2019, 11:11
Favorite Book: Crushing
Currently Reading: Magic Blue Rocks
Bookshelf Size: 177
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-msh2k.html
Latest Review: What They Bring by Willis

Post by MsH2k »

kdstrack wrote: 17 Jan 2021, 21:46 This is an area of Catholic service that you don't often hear about. The death of a spouse is quite high on the stress list. This memoir sounds informative and eye opening. I liked the suggestions you made for future editions of the book. Great writing!
I was familiar with the role of deacons in the Protestant Church, but I was amazed at the requirements for the Catholic diaconate. The author has an incredible story and inspiring resilience.

Thank you for your comment!
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."
Maya Angelou
Godspraise Precious
Posts: 222
Joined: 21 Dec 2020, 01:14
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 18
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-godspraise-precious.html
Latest Review: Beneath the Muscle by Lauren Powers

Post by Godspraise Precious »

Indeed, life doesn't always go as planned. It's something very inevitable about life, it won't be all rosy. Great review.
User avatar
Kirsi_78
Posts: 465
Joined: 01 Mar 2020, 12:01
2021 Reading Goal: 30
Currently Reading: When Half of Your Heart Dies
Bookshelf Size: 27
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kirsi-78.html
Latest Review: Where the Wings Grow by Irv Broughton

Post by Kirsi_78 »

I am not very familiar with catholic faith and manners and therefore find this story very interesting. However, I did have to raise my eyebrows to having the Bible and magic in the same sentence 😁 Too bad for the mistakes, I hope they do another round of editing!

Thanks for the interesting review!
User avatar
MsH2k
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1806
Joined: 31 Jul 2019, 11:11
Favorite Book: Crushing
Currently Reading: Magic Blue Rocks
Bookshelf Size: 177
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-msh2k.html
Latest Review: What They Bring by Willis

Post by MsH2k »

Godspraise Precious wrote: 18 Jan 2021, 06:26 Indeed, life doesn't always go as planned. It's something very inevitable about life, it won't be all rosy.
Very true. Thankfully, there are some wonderful surprises too! :blossom:

Thank you for your visit.
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."
Maya Angelou
User avatar
MsH2k
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1806
Joined: 31 Jul 2019, 11:11
Favorite Book: Crushing
Currently Reading: Magic Blue Rocks
Bookshelf Size: 177
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-msh2k.html
Latest Review: What They Bring by Willis

Post by MsH2k »

Kirsi_78 wrote: 18 Jan 2021, 10:06 I am not very familiar with catholic faith and manners and therefore find this story very interesting. However, I did have to raise my eyebrows to having the Bible and magic in the same sentence 😁 Too bad for the mistakes, I hope they do another round of editing!

Thanks for the interesting review!
This ex-deacon has lived an interesting life. Even as this book was ending, he continued to be a positive influence on others. I hope he writes a sequel or adds an update of his life to a future edition.
Thank you for your comment!
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."
Maya Angelou
User avatar
raluca_mihaila
Posts: 1011
Joined: 03 Aug 2020, 14:52
2021 Reading Goal: 60
Favorite Book: The Brothers Karamazov
Currently Reading: The Passage
Bookshelf Size: 97
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-raluca-mihaila.html
Latest Review: Shield Down by William de Berg

Post by raluca_mihaila »

It doesn't seem like my kind of book, but I appreciated reading your thorough review. I don't see how magic tricks could be seen as a sin. Despite the fact that it is a trivial thing, I don't understand what is so wrong. I think that each person has a different relationship to God and sees things in a different way. Nice review!
User avatar
MsH2k
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1806
Joined: 31 Jul 2019, 11:11
Favorite Book: Crushing
Currently Reading: Magic Blue Rocks
Bookshelf Size: 177
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-msh2k.html
Latest Review: What They Bring by Willis

Post by MsH2k »

raluca_mihaila wrote: 19 Jan 2021, 05:55 It doesn't seem like my kind of book, but I appreciated reading your thorough review. I don't see how magic tricks could be seen as a sin. Despite the fact that it is a trivial thing, I don't understand what is so wrong. I think that each person has a different relationship to God and sees things in a different way. Nice review!
Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."
Maya Angelou
Post Reply

Return to “Non-Fiction Books”