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The Rite
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MATT BAGLIO, a reporter living in Rome, has written for the Associated Press and the International Herald Tribune.

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Journalist Baglio follows a Catholic priest through the latter's training to become an exorcist in this incisive look at the church's rite of exorcism and its use in contemporary life. Baglio began delving into the topic after hearing about a course at a Vatican-affiliated university, where he met and befriended the Rev. Gary Thomas, a priest in the diocese of San Jose, Calif. Thomas took the exorcism course at the request of his bishop and subsequently apprenticed himself to a seasoned exorcist. Keenly aware of the misunderstanding that abounds about exorcism through film images, Baglio sets about dispelling misconceptions and does so skillfully, separating the real from the imaginary in the mysterious and unsettling sphere of the demonic. Both Thomas and Baglio were changed by their exposure to the rite. Thomas grew spiritually during the process, which bolstered his desire to help his parishioners, and Baglio, previously a nominal Catholic, reconnected with his faith. For anyone seeking a serious and very human examination of this fascinating subject, one that surpasses the sensational, this is absorbing and enlightening reading. (Mar. 10) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Chanting prayers and slinging holy water, the cinematic exorcist faces the forces of evil with strength and faith. But what of his real-life counterpart? In his first book, journalist Baglio follows Brother Gary, an American Roman Catholic priest, as he learns about exorcism firsthand during a sabbatical in Rome, first through a university class and later through an apprenticeship with an Italian exorcist. Spectacular exorcisms do occur, but most of the book focuses on other topics, from Father Gary's early life to the scientific controversies surrounding exorcism. The Rite provides more questions than answers: Why do some exorcists use methods not approved by the Church? Has the popularity of alternative religions led to a rise in possessions and exorcisms, as Baglio's interviewees maintain? If exorcism is a Christian ritual, why does it benefit Hindus and Muslims? More guidance as to how readers might explore these questions would be welcome, but this book is recommended for all public libraries as a place to begin the dialog.-Dan Harms, SUNY at Cortland Memorial Lib. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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