• The Truth at the Heart of the Lie

  • How the Catholic Church Lost its Soul
  • By: James Carroll
  • Narrated by: James Carroll
  • Length: 14 hrs and 6 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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The Truth at the Heart of the Lie

By: James Carroll
Narrated by: James Carroll
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Publisher's Summary

“Courageous and inspiring.” (Karen Armstrong, author of The Case for God)

“James Carroll takes us to the heart of one of the great crises of our times.” (Stephen Greenblatt, author of The Swerve)

An eloquent memoir by a former priest and National Book Award-winning writer who traces the roots of the Catholic sexual abuse scandal back to the power structure of the Church itself, as he explores his own crisis of faith and journey to renewal.

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly

James Carroll weaves together the story of his quest to understand his personal beliefs and his relationship to the Catholic Church with the history of the Church itself. From his first awakening of faith as a boy to his gradual disillusionment as a Catholic, Carroll offers a razor-sharp examination both of himself and of how the Church became an institution that places power and dominance over people through an all-male clergy. 

Carroll argues that a male-supremacist clericalism is both the root cause and the ongoing enabler of the sexual abuse crisis. The power structure of clericalism poses an existential threat to the Church and compromises the ability of even a progressive pope like Pope Francis to advance change in an institution accountable only to itself. Carroll traces this dilemma back to the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages, when Scripture, Jesus Christ, and his teachings were reinterpreted as the Church became an empire. In a deeply personal re-examination of self, Carroll grapples with his own feelings of being chosen, his experiences as a priest, and the moments of doubt that made him leave the priesthood and embark on a long personal journey toward renewal - including his tenure as an op-ed columnist at The Boston Globe writing about sexual abuse in the Church. 

Ultimately, Carroll calls on the Church and all reform-minded Catholics to revive the culture from within by embracing anti-clerical, anti-misogynist resistance and staying grounded in the spirit of love that is the essential truth at the heart of Christian belief and Christian life.

©2021 James Carroll (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“James Carroll’s The Truth at the Heart of the Lie is at once a passionate love letter to the enduring beauty of the Catholic faith and a passionate indictment of the clericalism of the Catholic Church. This moving and revelatory book, written from deep personal experience, takes us to the heart of one of the great institutional and existential crises of our times.” (Stephen Greenblatt, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Swerve and Will in the World)  

“James Carroll has written a courageous and inspiring account of his original commitment to and his subsequent disillusion with the Catholic Church. The accession of Pope Francis five years ago gave many people - of many different faiths - hope for the future. But even Francis has tragically failed to deal with the problems arising from enforced clerical celibacy that have led to the scandalous sexual abuse of women and children in a male supremacist church that flies in the face of the Gospels. Our only hope is to have the courage to imagine a future that returns to the spirit of equity, love, and compassion that not only is fundamental to the true teaching of the Catholic Church but also lies at the heart of all the great world religions.” (Karen Armstrong, New York Times best-selling author The Case for God)  

“In this amazing account of the author’s lifelong adventure of faith, full of candor and pain about one man’s encounter with the peculiar blessings and severe limitations of Catholic Christianity, the reader will come to know a man of such intellectual breadth and astonishing self-honesty as one almost never encounters in contemporary literature.” (Thomas Cahill, author of How the Irish Saved Civilization)

What listeners say about The Truth at the Heart of the Lie

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    2 out of 5 stars
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The personal story is far from relatable and not inspiring

I wholeheartedly agree with the author’s position on clericalism. But, much of the book is the author’s life story told through the prism of a persistent and strong dread of nuclear annihilation. Those who lived through the same time as the author and many who are younger will easily recognize that the author significantly overstates the actual nuclear fear of that time...he does it to the point that it burdens the story. I found myself saying, “enough already”.

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Critical

Book is revelatory and instructional at the same time. Incomparable personal story. Performance leaves a lot to be desired. I had to put reading speed at 1.5 and that was still slow. However the material was well worth it

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A Gift

The writing of James Carroll has changed my life. As a 73 year old Catholic, I have found answers to the quest I have pursued through my lifelong faith journey. As a result, I have experienced a simpler, yet more profound, presence of Jesus Christ. Like Carroll, I remain Catholic…for that is who I am…but his words have clarified my vision and opened the window to God’s peace and love.
Thank you James Carroll for your research as well as insight into your personal faith journey. Your work is a gift.