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

By Greg Barrett (Author) & Desmond M. Tutu (Foreword by)
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Item description for The Gospel of Father Joe: Revolutions and Revelations in the Slums of Bangkok by Greg Barrett & Desmond M. Tutu...

Barrett tells the remarkable story of Father Joe Maier and the courageous, selfless work he has done in the slums of Bangkok in a way that may inspire and encourage readers to believe that they too can make a difference in seemingly hopeless situations.

Publishers Description
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 Buddhists and Muslims in Bangkok's squatter slums, Father Joe Maier began his advance on abject poverty. Today, his Human Development Foundation and Mercy Centre charity is responsible for thirty-two preschools that have taught more than twenty thousand children how to read and write. Despite the crippling neglect found in impoverishment, he is raising international scholars and injecting a sense of purpose into shantytowns and squatter camps that used to have neither.

From Publishers Weekly
Barrett, a veteran journalist, records the inspiring work of Catholic priest Joe Maier in Bangkok's slums. Drawn to service in Thailand on a whim, the misfit American seminary student found a calling amongst the Thai downtrodden, even living in the slums himself. In founding his Mercy Centre organization 30 years ago, which focuses on preschool education, the irascible Father Joe confronts the interweaving effects of slum life, the sex trade, HIV/AIDS, drug addiction, illiteracy and orphanhood. In the process he rebukes sex traffickers, Thai government officials and even the Catholic Church. As witnessed by Barrett, Father Joe is at his most brave when comforting children dying of HIV/AIDS. Although narrating a Three Cups of Tea set in debauched Bangkok, Barrett, overt in his own cynicism, sometimes fails to capture the enigmatic Father Joe with this cobbling of anecdotes. However, many of the stories are memorable, from the tragic (street toddlers, happily schooled at Mercy, later dying there of HIV/AIDS), to the triumphant (Mercy graduates who attend college abroad and are able to climb out of poverty). Reverend Desmond Tutu authors the foreword. (Mar. 21) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Gospel of Father Joe: Revolutions and Revelations in the Slums of Bangkok by Greg Barrett & Desmond M. Tutu has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Reference and Research Bk News - 05/01/2008 page 173
  • Christian Century - 10/21/2008 page 43

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Jossey-Bass
Pages   319
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 9.5" Height: 6.25"
Weight:   0.56 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2008
Publisher   Jossey-Bass
ISBN  0470258632  
ISBN13  9780470258637  

Availability  0 units.

More About Greg Barrett & Desmond M. Tutu

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Greg Barrett is a twenty-year veteran of local, national, and foreign reporting for wire and newspapers in Georgia, the Carolinas, Hawaii, and Maryland. He was a roving correspondent based in the Washington, D.C., bureau for Gannett News Service/USA Today when he met Father Joe Maier, and most recently he worked as a state correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two sons.

Greg Barrett was born in 1943.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Inspirational
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > Missions & Missionary Work

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Gospel of Father Joe: Revolutions and Revelations in the Slums of Bangkok?

An incredible story....uplifting and motivational.   May 25, 2008
If you think the world is a troubled place, then look here for the answer. What Father Joe has accomplished is truly fantastic. If they made a movie about his life before this book, no one would believe it. The author brings it to you without sugar-coating the horrors of the sex trade industry, and yet, it never feels heavy. Greg Barrett's tone throughout the book is that of hope and not despair using dry humor with deft touch and an insight we otherwise would not have seen. It is an entertaining, inspirational and easy to read effort by the author. I have just finished it and will probably read it again. Thanks to the author and Father Joe!
A truthful and moving description of life in the Bangkok slums  Apr 30, 2008
As a Retired Fire Captain, I can be quite skeptical. I spent my life working among men and women who many people would consider "heroes," but I never met anyone who deserves the title of hero more than Father Joe. Four years ago, my wife and I were accepted as volunteers at the Mercy Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. Each year since, we have returned and stayed for months at a time. During those months, we have come to know Father Joe, his staff, and the children at Mercy. The Gospel of Father Joe is an accurate portrayal of the man and the organization. Father Joe is a man who started with nothing and built The Mercy Centre, which now has 30+ preschools, an AIDS hospice, as well as homes for 150+ children. In addition, he and his staff somehow manage to feed and educate thousands of more children in the outlying slums each day. My wife and I are honored to serve there. I highly recommend both the book by Greg Barrett, which tells the story so vividly, and the Mercy Centre~that is hope to so many. Michael
The Gospel of Fr. Joe: A book even for your atheist Uncle Bob  Apr 13, 2008

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 rivers generating human destruction.

Show us the people who are engaged in what public health calls primary prevention - preventing the child abuse and emotional and physical starvation that produces the billions of children doomed to lives so bleak that the noun "crucifixion" is more accurate than hyperbolic.

As urgent as the work of Fr. Joe is, even a million Father Joe's cannot eradicate the horrors befalling children unless the labor is supplemented by primary prevention.

This said, Greg Barrett's "The Gospel of Father Joe" in itself shows us the path to ending the "normal" atrocities of structural violence which kill or demolish children world wide and which, if left unchecked, will doom us all.

In conclusion, help your friends and even your enemies. Give copies of "The Gospel of Father Joe" to everyone in psychic pain -- believer, unbeliever or agnostic. All will thank you.

Oh, yeah. "The Gospel of Father Joe" will elicit tears unless your are a brick statue. The tears are well worth it.
Jean Coffey, NC  Mar 22, 2008
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  Mar 19, 2008
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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