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Hardcover The Gospel of Father Joe: Revolutions and Revelations in the Slums of Bangkok Book

ISBN: 0470258632

ISBN13: 9780470258637

The Gospel of Father Joe: Revolutions and Revelations in the Slums of Bangkok

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Book Overview

Three decades ago in a cordoned-off corner of the developing world an angry Catholic priest armed only with pencil, paper, and crayons, declared a revolution. From a shanty school shared with... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Point to the Moon and the rest will follow - an inspiring tale of activism

Practicing Adaptive Leadership in Hell - Buddha Bellies and a keen Ear Exercising Adaptive Leadership under the most difficult of conditions is an extraordinary feat. After taking on Mother Theresa's challenge to work with the residents of the slums of Bangkok, Father Joe has managed to create and sustain a nonprofit aid organization. More impressive still is his ability to persevere in the face of intense injustice. As I read the book, I kept on asking myself how he could continue working after such emotional trauma and what could possibly compel a Midwestern priest to become an interfaith saint in the slums of Bangkok. Oddly enough, he doesn't consider him a "fookin hero" and claims that the people of the neighborhood changed him. While that may be true, it still doesn't resolve the questions of how, or why that happened. Father Joe never tells us directly but instead offers the reader to come and see for oneself through anecdotes. Through the tragedy of Soi, the response to the Tsunami, or his activism in response to the asian currency collapse, the reader learns of Father Joes values and methods. His dedication to the community and his belief that that everyone is "inherently good" sustain his work. Klong Tuey is a lot like the slums of Cartagena. I, however, am not like Father Joe. I wish I could have read this book prior to my travels to Colombia. Perhaps, it could have answered some of the questions I had regarding the injustices I was seeing and my role while in the "thick of it." This summer I felt powerless as if seeing poverty through plexiglass but being unable to act.Some obvious lessons immediately stand out. Father Joe lived in the community in which he worked - not separating himself from his clients even to the detriment of his own health. In addition, he does not mince words when discussing the pandemic. Speaking at a donor conference, he explicitly singled out tourism, an economic engine for being too costly on children and their potential for exploitation. Acutely aware of the pending economic crisis he wrote publicly about the dangerous combination of prostitution and drugs. However, most inspiring to me was his ability to continue serving the community despite personally being connected to trauma. After all, I never came close to providing the kinds of services and outreach Father Joe did but I still felt troubled and frustrated. His ability to work through that frustration even as he sees the systems that propagate the disease of poverty is completely different from my experience. Whereas I saw endemic poverty and became frustrated because I was not able to act on a macro scale to fix the root causes of it - Father Joe and the Mercy Clinic are like the little engine that could, continuously churning out compassionate care. Finding out how they were able to create a "joyful oasis of suffering" would immensely help me as I go forward past Duke.


An inspirational story of a man who saw injustice and does what he can to fix it. What makes his story fascinating is just how hard it was to do some good. Not impossible, mind you, but hard enough to keep most people from trying. His philosophy also strikes me as uniquely American. They need a school. Let's build one. Where do we start? Highly recommended.

The Gospel of Fr. Joe: A book even for your atheist Uncle Bob

People everywhere are in despair or at least in the maw of ennui . The genius of Greg Barrett's "The Gospel of Fr. Joe" is that Barrett shows us, the privileged, a way to move from despair to joy by plunging into the counterintuitive. Like Barrett's protagonist, Fr. Joe, the secret is to embrace misery and do something, anything, to mitigate the misery of at least one victim. The author achieves, a genuine miracle in his "Gospel of Father Joe". He shows us how to replace a deep feeling of impotence with hope and action. That hope and actions serve as the antidote for hopelessness and depression. This antidote helps readers ranging from religious believers to believers in atheism, like me. How does Barrett pull off this miracle? 1) He focuses on a single question: how can a a hard-nosed, rebel priest, Fr. Joe, infuse tens of thousands of slum children in Thailand, even those dying of AIDS, with energy and joy? 2) Fr. Joe's example makes us Americans who profit from the neo-slave labor of Thais aptly ashamed of this injustice. But that's only 1% of the story. Fr. Joe's example makes us ashamed of what is our own petty suffering -- petty in comparison with the victims of Thailand. 3) Barrett provides what we scientists call an existence proof of the ability to work not only effectively, but with joy, amid the most bleak circumstances, including the horrors of Thailand's sex tourism industry. This "industry" is especially painful since credible evidence indicates that Thailand's sex tourism, staffed partly by children, is at collateral damage from the Vietnam war in which the Pentagon turned Thailand into a huge brothel (R & R) for our troops as well as a platform for the launching the massive bombing of the men, women, and children of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. (Note: the last sentence is my own evidence-based interpretation, not Barrett's. So if it offends anyone, blame me and the scholarly literature, not Greg Barrett. 4) Barrett, a master storyteller, shows us how an unblinking realist like Fr. Joe can seize the moment and inspire people of all ages and religions to seize the moment. Perhaps most powerfully, the courage of Fr. Joe's charges -- including those know they have only days to live use their remaining time to read books rather then cursing their fate. 5) Most of all, I recommend the "Gospel of Father Joe" for people in despair, because Fr. Joe provides a most meaningful way out of hopelessness. His lesson is to find someone bearing an infinitely heavier burden than yours and to help that person. I'm impressed enough to fly to Texas next week to try Fr. Joe's prescription. 6) I'll end with a request for Greg Barrett. Please write another compelling book which shows how to defeat despair by helping defeat something more abstract than the despair of individual children. Greg, please use your formidable talent to paint verbal pictures of the work of the Fr. Joes who battle further up the ri

Jean Coffey, NC

This is a story that was destined to be told. Thankfully, it chose an author who could handle serious and often grim content with aplomb, resulting in a book that is very readable. Greg Barrett has clearly taken the cause of Father Joe Maier to heart, and through the Gospel of Father Joe, wants the reader to do the same. The slums of Bangkok are indicative of the unspeakable behaviors humans allow to happen to one another, and force upon one another. Sadly, Bangkok is not the only place we treat each other in reprehensible and shameful ways. So very fortunate are the women and children in this humanities-war torn area to have an angel in the form of a gruff and grumpy man named Father Joseph Maier, and his creation, The Mercy Center. Reader alert: Knowledge like this can never be conveniently unknown.

Gospel of Father Joe

Straight arrow writing. Compelling subject. Our real heros are not the warrors or the great men or the mogols, but those who give themselves and get their hands dirty and give the rest of us a sturdy definition of compassion. Thanks to Mr. Barrett for spotlighting Father Joe.The Gospel of Father Joe: Revolutions and Revelations in the Slums of Bangkok
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