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Keeping Faith cover
September 2004
Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey
by Fenton Johnson

In some ways, the life of the writer is not all that different from the life of the monk. Both demand much solitude, devotion to craft, contemplation, and self-discipline. And Fenton Johnson was already more familiar with monks than many writers, since brothers from the Abbey of Gethsemani were frequent guests in his family’s Nelson County home. But when he felt an anger he hadn’t really acknowledged welling up inside him at a gathering of Christian and Buddhist monks, he decided to seek out its roots by truly experiencing the monastic life as practiced in both traditions. Keeping Faith chronicles his physical, spiritual, and emotional journeys as he spends time at Gethsemani and at the San Francisco Zen Center in search of the meaning of faith. In beautifully written, clear-eyed, sometimes painfully honest prose, he grapples with issues of sexuality and desire, power and politics within organized religion, and his own unhappy memories of his father as well as the church that rejected him for being gay. But Keeping Faith is also compassionate and hopeful, as Johnson works to separate dogma from belief, replace arrogance with humility, and revitalize his own faith.


Watch the program [requires RealPlayer®].

Card catalog entry from the Library of Congress

Amazon.com information page

Barnes and Noble information page

Book review from the June 6, 2003 National Catholic Reporter

Abbey of Gethsemani (More links about Gethsemani and its most famous resident, Thomas Merton, can be found on our December 2003 pages.)


Johnson’s novel Scissors, Paper, Rock was the June 1999 bookclub selection.

Fenton Johnson

Fenton Johnson
1953-

Author's website

Video interview with bookclub host Bill Goodman, spring 2004


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