Eileen O'Rourke is a sometime nun who left home in ninth grade for the convent.  Now she's about to turn 39, and the depressed mother she fled by entering religious life has finally died.  Eileen has come back to her Wisconsin hometown to put her mother's house on the market, but also to ask herself some difficult questions about what actually sustained her vocation up until now.  She finds a friend in Adrian Underwood, a 24-year-old local seminarian who's wondering what it means, exactly, to be gay and Catholic, and wrestling with the complex notion of what it is to be called to the priesthood.  Other than perpetuating a struggle with authority, does he have any reason to be in the seminary? 

For each, the other's friendship comes to play an unexpected role in the search for peace of mind and a measure of happiness.

Exsules Filii Evae (The Banished Sons of Eve) is a thinking person's novel about religion--the untold story of what happens when doubt begins to occur in the lives of people who have committed themselves to an institution that will inevitably fall short of their hopes.

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~On Friday, Adrian had made a special call to ask how she was and if she were coming to Mass on Sunday at Holy Name. She had begged off, feeling somehow too disconcerted to face that large a public. He had come over for coffee then, on Saturday, and had behaved too normally, not only as though nothing out of the ordinary had transpired but, in fact, as if he felt more familiar with Eileen than ever and could suddenly putter in her kitchen fixing sandwiches, guessing which cupboards held the luncheon plates or which drawers held the flatware, while she herself was feeling lost and paralyzed, even in her own environment.~

"...An impressive work of fiction which offers a thorough and informed exploration of complex religious issues. The author's enthusiasm for and his knowledge of Catholicism are striking, making the ideas put forth by the novel remarkably powerful..." Sarah Hughes, Minerva Press

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~Adrian sat in the dark chapel at Holy Name in the hour before dinner, watching the sun, low in the sky outside, ignite the red and yellow-green and sapphire glass of the windows. The inscriptions there, in frosted glass letters outlined by blackened lead, blazed like the white center of a furnace. They looked truly like the thoughts of God rendered in English for the supplicant here to take them in. Many were the days Adrian had been that supplicant, yearning for the voice of the Almighty, hopeful that the words would be words of encouragement for him. Today what struck him was the presence of the light outside, and the darkness of the space in here, so cool and silent one felt entombed. He thought of other moments--happy ones, when a congregation somewhere had filled a sacred space like this with song and celebration, Sunday mornings when matrons in hats and suited fathers glowed not only in their finest clothes but also with their best intentions, and children, chastened with awe, looked with infant eyes on the golden fixtures of their church, the chalices and monstrances and reliquaries of a religion, and felt like citizens of a wealthy kingdom. Where had that celebration been? Somewhere in Adrian's past, in the soft impressionable mind of a Catholic child marking the holy days of the year with his native tribe.~

                  from The Banished Sons of Eve

"...I applaud any author for not shying from a narrative of those moments when we genuinely yearn for the voice of God.  Stephen Hoffman chronicles a common enough reaction on the part of many believers: can the words and stories of encouragement that crowd the scriptures really be for us as well? At those times when we need to make the hard decisions, we do ask ourselves whether the words of our spiritual traditions can really be meant even for us. What is at stake for many of us who are gay and lesbian as we examine the religious traditions in which we have been raised is the role we still need to play in our “native tribe.” When we say our final goodbyes to parents and grandparents, we have a right to the language and ritual of the native tribe from which we each in our generations have sprung. When we need consolation in the face of tragedy and loss, we rightly listen for voices that echo with the wisdom and holiness of our saints and sages..." Reader I Married Him  Blog post

About the author
Stephen Hoffman was born and reared in rural Buford, North Dakota. He now lives with his son, Gunnar, and partner Kenneth in rural Marydel, Maryland.

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