John Carmichael's Drunks & Monks, a look behind the scenes

I got to know John Carmichael in April 2014.  He got in touch with me via the comments section here and here after he saw me presenting the pilot episode of the show Extraordinary Faith on EWTN which was set in John’s parish church of Mission San Juan Capistrano in Southern California. John was eager to learn all about my experience as a TV producer – he was the first person that I ever met who truly ‘gets’ the joys and pains of making television.

John Carmichael 
I was fascinated to learn that John is an agile legal eagle whose wings swooped high and low around Hollywood for many years when he represented a number of celebrity clients and handled big cases for film studios and record companies. As he says in the opening of his masterpiece, Drunks and Monks, ‘litigation is blood sport in Hollywood…I’ve seen more of what goes on backstage than I ever wanted.’

After he got to know me a little he told me he was working on a memoir that chronicled his conversion from being an unbelieving cultural Catholic to being a devout, repentant Catholic striving to follow in the footsteps of the saints. He asked me if I would like to read it – he had shared the draft with no one else – and I felt honoured to be asked.  I was quite confident that John was writing a great book. I think that the multitude of emails John has sent me over the past year could be compiled and would make a best-seller. But I didn’t open the file with the opening chapters for some time. 

The truth is that I was scared.

John warned me that there would be a minor exorcism along the way.  I am that same girl who stayed up all night after reading Fr. Malachi Martin's Hostage to the Devil.  My first conversations with John had concerned such cheery topics as demonic possession and exorcism, the thinly veiled hatred that Satanists have for sincere Catholics and how Padre Pio was physically beaten up by the devil.  When I was doing pro-life work in the South Bronx, I met very poor people who would spend their few dollars going to devil worshippers to get ‘favours’.  The raging battle for our souls is not something that is academic and abstract for me – oft times I’ve been burned by the sparks from the clashing swords.

I told John that I would read it when I was sure that I would sleep after reading the opening chapters. So, last winter, on a very frosty evening in central London, I resolved that I could read Drunks and Monks, because a friend and I were going for a hot toddy which I knew would send me to sleep, even if I found the memoir so nerve-shredding that it would render me unable to close my eyes. I only drink whisky a few times a year; those of you who know me well know that I much prefer gin. So, before going for the honey, lemon and scotch drink, I opened the first chapter of Drunks and Monks…

IT BLEW MY MIND

I never thought that I would be the first reader of what I consider to be one of the best books ever written.  Not long after, John invited me to be the editor, and to make suggestions.  If I do nothing else noteworthy in my life, I can say I’ve edited the book that Jennifer Fulwiler called, ‘our generation’s Seven Storey Mountain’.  Jennifer is one bright lady and she invited John onto her show, which you may listen to. John is interviewed at the 43:33mark.  
Thank you, Jennifer for generously inviting all your listeners to buy the book.


Find out if you agree with Awkward Tertle, a young woman who blogged that Drunks and Monks is written in an ‘intoxicatingly beautiful way’ and that John is ‘a modern day Augustine’.

Drunks and Monks

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I am currently 84% through the memoir (thank you, Kindle), and I find it captivating, disturbing, and inspiring (sometimes all three in the same sentence). It is a terrific book, and though I have never faced the same demons as Mr. Carmichael, his stellar wiring invites the average reader on this journey of sin and redemption and makes us realize that we can all fall prey to both his mortal and venial sins. Thank you for this post and for editing the pilgrim's journey of our age.

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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment which is so sincere and well-written. I wholeheartedly agree with you that the 'stellar writing invites the average reader on this journey of sin and redemption'. Yes, truly Drunks & Monks is 'the pilgrim's journey of our age'.

      Enjoy the last 16% and let us know what you thought of the ending.

      God bless you and yours,

      Mary

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    2. Such a great book. What keeps pouring through my mind - Catholicism - it's all real.

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    3. Hi Tom,

      Thank you kindly for stopping by and leaving a lovely comment. Amazing, I often think of Fr Ambrose's line, 'it's all real, John'. Feel free, Tom to leave a review on the Amazon page and encourage others to read the great American memoir of our times.

      God bless you and God reward you,

      Mary

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  2. Loved the book. Praying that the sequel comes out one day... That John got to heaven (as a priest or not)

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    1. Hello David, Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a lovely comment. I am so glad to hear you loved the book, I can't wait to pass on your comment to John.

      God bless you,

      Mary

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