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BEHIND THE ALTAR by Robert Henman
Xlibris Publishing 2008
ISBN 978-1-4363-2487-8

This is a work of fiction reflecting on the role of contemporary institutional religions in the modern world. Over the past 500 years science has emerged as a challenge to contemporary religions that have their origins in the mythical and classical consciousness of the past 3000 years. Those modes of consciousness have collapsed into an eclectic mix of consciousness. Do traditional forms of religion have a role in the future of humanity? This story, based on the author’s 24 year experience of working in pastoral and educational positions with the Roman Catholic Church, attempts to raise this question. It challenges the reader to reflect on their own authentic “way” of moving forward. As all issues in contemporary society, the issue is global and serious, as we witness the tension between religions, not unlike that of the Medieval Period in Europe and its destructive colonization of valid cultures world wide. History, or perhaps the longer cycle of decline, will perpetuate itself until some cross cultural, cross gender, and foundational human commonality is empirically discovered. This story is an attempt to reveal local functioning problems as a manifestation of a much larger historical problem. The story ends with a subtle pointing towards solution.

This novel is about personal survival within the context of modern institutions, more specifically, contemporary religions. The main character, Jimmie Deveau, and his wife Mel, work as pastoral associates with the Roman Catholic Church. The institution begins to take its toll on their personal lives. Jimmie has had to deal with numerous problems in his career and he accepted them as part of his job and life in general. As ongoing problems emerge within the institution, Jimmie discovers a secret about his childhood that has been kept from him. Jimmie finds himself wondering whether he can continue working in the institutional church. Relationships become strained as Jimmie attempts to work through to a decision. These events send him into a deeper reflection on his career, his life, and the role religion plays in contemporary society. Through dramatic fiction, the story explores a growing self-interest in contemporary religion and the difficulty of personal change.

See below or go to for a review of this book and more information on the author.

Review by William Zanardi of Behind the Altar by Robert Henman
Published by Xlibris Publishing April 2008
ISBN 978-1-4363-2487-8
Available at and most online bookstores worldwide>    Love and betrayal, anger and distrust – such are the phases of relationships ending in pain. In Behind the Altar, Robert Henman narrates his protagonist’s journey through these phases. The love was for a Church that offered a secure home, moral ideals, a purpose for living. Betrayal took the form of institutional authorities putting personal gain and the Church’s reputation above service to those they professed to love. If anger is proportionate to love lost, then the greater the original love, the greater the distrust betrayal evokes.

   The reader will suspect much of the story is autobiographical, an insider’s report on the psychological flaws and rationalizing defenses of fearful individuals: authority figures desperate to hang on to power and prestige and their too trusting followers anxious about leaving the only secure home they have known. The author’s careful depiction of the wrenching trauma of betrayal is so nuanced that it must have a basis in personal experience. There is no sudden shift from naïve belief to disillusionment. Instead, trust erodes slowly; doubts arise and subside; resolve takes shapes and retreats; efforts to overcome fear and to accept financial and spiritual risks only gradually build momentum.

   The grea

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