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Catherine Dunphy & The Clergy Project

by Drew Bekius

by Drew Bekius

Wednesday afternoon, I locked the door to my Uptown apartment, and slid down the elevator on my way to a quick shift at the steakhouse. On my way out the front door, I stopped to check my mailbox, and that’s the moment I saw it. Right there waiting for me in my little mail slot was my Amazon preordered copy of Catherine Dunphy’s From Apostle to Apostate: The Story of the Clergy Project (Pitchstone, 2015).

All the way to the steakhouse I was wishing I wasn’t on my way to the steakhouse. All I wanted to do was dive into Dunphy’s book, which serves as her own personal deconversion story and leads into a chronicling of the earliest days of The Clergy Project and her work as the Acting Executive Director through the spring of 2014. Myself a TCP Board Member and the current Communications Chair, I was familiar with the general outline of those early days that she recounts (Much of it is here on the TCP website), but I was certainly excited to gain the full picture through Dunphy’s eyes.

And the word excited might be a bit of an understatement. Anticipation was full.

So the moment I finished my shift customer-servicing guests at the steakhouse, I was home on my couch and devouring every word. I finished early the next day, and loved each moment of the journey. A quick and effortless read, Apostle to Apostate comes in at just under 150 pages. But don’t let its brevity or ease mislead you. There’s a lot packed in this little book. Positioned through the eyes of her Roman Catholic upbringing, Dunphy shares from her heart about the passion-flowing faith that brought her to seminary, intent on a life of service, before ultimately moving beyond that faith in an embrace of something greater. She shares gripping, tear-inducing stories such as one attending Bible camp as a young adolescent in the wake of a local sex abuse scandal. But she also discourses with feminist and liberationist theologies and even waxes philosophy at times. Seriously, there’s a lot here.

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