Item description for In Good Company: The Fast Track from the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience by James S. J. Martin...
The story of one young man's remarkable journey from corporate America to the Society of Jesus, the world's largest Catholic religious order. Martin leads you from his Catholic childhood through his rapid success and ultimate dissatisfaction with the buisiness world, to his novitiate and profession of vows as a Jesuit.
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Reviews - What do customers think about In Good Company: The Fast Track from the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience?
More? Mar 22, 2008
This might have been an excellent book had it been written as a biography. With biography, the reader is kept at the natural distance created when a third party tells another person's story. Sadly, that is what _In Good Company_ feels like.
The author takes us from his corporate days at GE through his period of indecision - trying to discover the path of vocation, to the first two years of his Jesuit-in-training experience.
With each turn of the page, I found myself hoping that at some point the author was going to relax his stiff-arm and invite me into the intensity of encounter with himself. From the scenic winter retreat in New England to the oppressive Jamaican heat; from the necessary submission required by the novitiate and his fellow novices and leaders to the necessary submission required by the desperately ill; from waiting for a sign directing him to vocation to the hours spent in contemplative prayer, the author was embraced by God in the richest natural, human and spiritual landscapes. Yet, while it was obvious that he was deeply moved by these confrontations with life, there was a distinct disconnect when he put pen to paper, his prose maintaining a clinical sterility one expects from an "objective" journalist. When I arrived at the final page, I did so without ever having met Father Martin.
When writing a spiritual autobiography, the author has an obligation to vulnerability. The experience of surrender and subsequent emptying of the heart has to be conveyed to the reader, or the one hearing the story, if the writer wishes his experience to be complete and come to full fruition. The task is the most simple and the most painful undertaken. Consider Martin's quote of Pedro Arrupe, the former General Superior of Jesuits, after he had suffered a stroke:
"I find myself in the hands of God. This is what I have wanted all of my life from my youth. But now there is a difference: now the initiative is entirely with God. It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in God's hands" (page 144, paperback).
There is nothing special about Arrupe's syntax, no exciting verb choices, no lively adjectives or adverbs - just a simple, transparent helplessness that asks the reader to stop and feel this man's humanity.
Father Martin underestimates himself. He seems reluctant to allow himself (and the reader) the pleasure of full, fearless expression. Perhaps it has something to do with the insecurities he listed in the text or the "dignified" limits imposed on him by collar and title. I am not asking for a Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, or Mother Teresa experience or narrative style. I am, however, asking for Father Martin. His encounter with himself and the divine is too important to be lost in a collection of verbage that doesn't fully tell the story.
Hopefully, he will write another book telling of the years following his novice experience. And then, perhaps, we will finally meet.
For business majors, too Feb 20, 2008
I plan on giving this to a business major I know. Martin's memoir of his time in corporate America is eye-opening, even though it is 20+ years old. And, I like his honesty in describing how ignorant he is of the religious life, which would ring true for many worldly young people today. All this in a breezy style that makes for a quick read. Don't think it is just for young men who have a religious vocation.
A Modern Vocation Story Jul 1, 2006
When considering a vocation, this book might provide a little relief to those who hear that discouraging little voice whispering, "You're not holy enough." For that reason, I think this book could serve as a thoughtful gift to someone in the process of discernment.
The story of Fr. Martin hits on some pretty interesting topics. For example: his first career as a corporate man who makes good money, but is probably too overworked to enjoy it. Also, it's interesting to see those around him (e.g. friends, co-workers, etc) react to his discernment process and entrance into the Society of Jesus as a seminarian.
The real story, though, is Fr. Martin's own reflections on the meaning of his journey to the priesthood, and the comparisons to his life "in the world."
Sadly, I identified with his story of someone who grew up as a Catholic, and yet reached adulthood without a deep understanding of the Catholic Faith, its teachings or its traditions. Fr. Martin confronted his religious illiteracy, even if he felt silly asking what might have been seen as simple questions.
Fr. Martin is a "down-to-earth" person who lives in the real world. He is someone that is easy to identify with. He's a sinner--just like the rest of us. On the other hand, seeing his "warts," I sometimes felt that there was an ambiguous message about how to deal with our own imperfections. For example, should we see these imperfections and say, "that's just who I am"? Or, should we follow the Gospel message of Our Lord, to "Be Perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect"? (Matt 5:48)
Also, Fr. Martin clearly lived the Gospel message to serve those who are in need. I don't mean to belittle these good works which are worthy of imitation; but, sometimes I fear that people make temporal good works the primary goal of religion, instead of the salvation of souls.
Overall, I recommend Fr. Martin's enjoyable, well-written vocation story.
Another great book by Martin!! May 6, 2006
I have not been disappointed yet by the work of James Martin, SJ. I appreciate the honesty of his experience. I believe that the issues he presents in this book that surround religious formation are well written. I do share the opinion of one customer reviewer on this site.com who presents a concern about Martin's lack of transparency on the issue of sexuality and the vow of celibacy. HOWEVER, having perhaps a unique insight into religious life from my own experiences in formation, I can attest to the fact that the vows of poverty and obedience are much more divisive in community life than celibacy - and that celibacy is more often the heated issue of those outside religious communities looking inward with curiosity.
I have shared this book with a number of other religious and lay people alike with the recommendation that this is another well-written James Martin book that is candid, humorous and honest.
You will not be disappointed.
Great story. Jul 27, 2003
Martin's personal journey of faith, which eventually led him into the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), is quite a story. He was a young successful business man rising quickly through the corporate ranks at General Electric. But the "unseen hook" brought him to change dramatically - literally from riches to poverty. The reader gets a sense of Martin's sincerity as they journey with him through his younger years in business, and eventually, his experience as a Jesuit novice. Though the story itself is powerful, I rated this book with only three stars because I found Martin's prose to be lacking at some points in the story. Perhaps I'm being harsh; forgive me. I recommend this book to any reader who wishes to understand the Catholic preisthood better, especially those young men considering joining the Jesuits.