New Novel Explores An Episcopal Church Rat’s Ministry to Urban Wildlife

Apocryphile Press
Posted Jun 14, 2021

New Title From David L. Carter

The Rat Reverend Clancy And The Seven Sacraments 

The mission field is no further away than the church grounds in the latest novel by acclaimed author/theologian David L. Carter.

Baptizing buzzards! Preaching to pigeons! Clancy is a rat on a mission from God… to bring the Gospel to the various non-human animals that roam the churchyard of St. Aloysius Episcopal Church. But as his congregation grows, so does the capacity for conflict. When tempers inevitably flare and the worm turns, will the Reverend Rat be able to shepherd his flock into the Peaceable Kingdom? 

The story begins when a sweet-natured, guileless rat named Clancy, who lives in the cellar of a church, experiences, in a numinous vision, the ‘call’ to begin a church of his own, so as to proclaim his rather idiosyncratic understanding of the Christian message and provide ministry to the urban wildlife that he encounters around the churchyard. Using the seven sacraments of the Anglican/Episcopal/Roman Catholic and other liturgically based churches as touchstones roughly corresponding to the various challenges Clancy encounters as he struggles to live into his calling without the formation afforded to humans who engage in ministry, the story unfolds in a series of seven crises which end in Clancy’s gradual, if tumultuous and ultimately healing confrontation with his own limitations and the virtues and shortcomings of the various creatures who comprise his intentional community.

Praise for “The Rat Reverend Clancy and the Seven Sacraments”

“Carter weaves a delightful, refreshing, and, at times, surprising tale of a rat, Clancy, who is called to preach and to found a truly diverse church of creatures, great and small. Their personal and community dynamics mirror those of human churches though with enough distance and difference to provoke insightful and creative alternatives.

Rev. Dr. William Kondrath, author of God’s Tapestry: Understanding and Celebrating Differences and Facing Feelings in Faith Communities.

Any author who decides to populate a piece of writing with talking animals is taking a risk.

Properly carried out, this approach can provide human readers with valuable insights into the fascinating alternative worlds that exist all around them — in other words, what it might be like to be a dog, or a parakeet, or even an earthworm.

On the other hand, this sort of anthromorphism can come across as nothing more than human characters wearing animal costumes, like guests at a Halloween party.

In his short novel “The Rat Reverend Clancy & the Seven Sacraments,” David Carter not only adheres to that middle line, but dances gleefully along it. Using a playful yet perceptive alchemy, he manages to make us pay attention to what the characters have to say while never forgetting what they are (or are not). That’s not easy to accomplish. Moreover, he takes this tale even further, making it a clever examination of religion.

By now, there are very few humans on the planet who have not heard of Christianity, or do not at least follow some alternative philosophy involving the worship of a  divine entity. But in creating the character of Clancy, a church-dwelling rodent who is inspired to preach the gospel by covertly listening to Sunday services, he raises the intriguing question: How would someone with an evangelical bent introduce Christianity to a worm, or a pigeon, or a vulture?

What makes this work is that Clancy himself is new to his faith, which means he has to sort out its various ethical and practical dilemmas before he can convert others. If you look hard enough, you can identify some of the book’s characters as being allegorical, and Clancy’s admiration for the Rev. Silas DeBassompierre — his unwitting landlord — opens the door to an examination of the gospel as preached by well-meaning but flawed human beings.

With all that, though, this isn’t really a “Christian” novel.” Authors working that side of the street generally assume a certain amount of knowledge and mutual understanding on the part of the reader, but “The Rat Reverend” strips religion down to its bare bones. In the process, Carter spins an endearing and whimsical story that is suitable for a wide range of age groups and quite relatable to non-Christians without offending the devout. The book is divided into seven chapters, each representing a sacrament, and its humor (the title, for example) flows beneath the surface but is ever present.

The final product is a book that any worm, vulture or human might enjoy.”

Darrell Laurant, author of ‘The Kudzu Kid’

“Carter weaves a delightful, refreshing, and, at times, surprising tale of a rat, Clancy, who is called to preach and to found a truly diverse church of creatures, great and small. Their personal and community dynamics mirror those of human churches though with enough distance and difference to provoke insightful and creative alternatives.

Rev. Dr. William Kondrath, author of God’s Tapestry: Understanding and Celebrating Differences and Facing Feelings in Faith Communities.

 

The Rat Reverend Clancy and the Seven Sacraments

by David L. Carter

Apocryphile Press

978-1-949643-81-7/ paperback / $16.95

www.apocryphilepress.com

To contact the author for more information or to arrange an interview, feel free to visit his website!