Where are my fictional Brother Justins?
April 5, 2008 8:17 PM   Subscribe

Book-Filter: I'm fascinated by very bad priests in fiction. Help me find some more.

I know I can find what I'm looking for in other TV/movies, but I'm really looking for more portable entertainment. Best examples: Brother Justin from Carnivale, Caleb in S7 Buffy.

I've used my librarian friends' searching skills and pulled up a few terrible-sounding books and a lot of fantasy, which isn't what I'm looking for. Power-hungry, hypocritical, naughty or just plain evil, but they should theoretically be vaugely Christian, or at least look it to the others in their world.

I have read everything Flannery O'Connor's done, and a book set in Jamaica that slips my mind at the moment. I tried reading some John Saul, God help me. I have even seen 'The World's Greatest Sinner,' and although I doubt that'll help anyone get a handle on what I'm looking for, that's what I'm looking for.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The Priest, by Thomas Disch

...and of course The Monk, by Matthew Gregory Lewis
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:33 PM on April 5, 2008

Night of the Iguana, by Tennessee Williams
posted by subatomiczoo at 8:38 PM on April 5, 2008

THE BLACK MASS OF BROTHER SPRINGER by Charles Willeford fits your bill... except that Brother Springer is a protestant.
posted by cinemafiend at 8:45 PM on April 5, 2008

Judas Iscariot, by Matthew, Mark and Luke.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:48 PM on April 5, 2008

Off the top of my head ...

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose. Multiple priest characters qualify.
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter. "Naughty" reverend fathers illegitimate child.
Brown, The Da Vinci Code. Crappy novel; creepy albino monk.
Elizabeth (movie, with Cate Blanchett). Priest assassin out to do the Pope's dirty work.
posted by donpedro at 8:53 PM on April 5, 2008

You might enjoy Preacher, though it does have pictures along with the words.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:56 PM on April 5, 2008

Cardinal Richelieu from The Three Museteers, who was even based on a real person.
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:07 PM on April 5, 2008

Night of the Hunter, in both book and film form, is pretty much the granddaddy of all evil preacher stories.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:10 PM on April 5, 2008

How about Brother Eli from There Will Be Blood?
posted by evhan at 9:11 PM on April 5, 2008

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
posted by francesca too at 9:11 PM on April 5, 2008

(slaps forehead (hypothetically, being a cube)) I have read all of Preacher, to much humourous effect. So far, some good leads...

I know one of the turrets has a copy of The Three Musketeers, so I'll probably pick it up tonight; I have The Monk on ILL already, and I lucked out that the Disch is in my local library. Williams is probably there, too. The Willeford sounds like a really good match, too, but it's not in any library in my ILL-able region. :(
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 9:16 PM on April 5, 2008

Dunno if you're looking for historical fiction, but Bishop Waleran in Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth is pretty evil. Great book, too - a bit shlocky at times, but in general head and shoulders above Follett's other work.
posted by captainawesome at 9:17 PM on April 5, 2008

Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis. Not exactly supernaturally evil, but certainly a "bad priest".
posted by quakerjono at 10:11 PM on April 5, 2008

Two from dystopian, bleak graphic novels: Cardinal Roark from Sin City: The Hard Goodbye, and Bishop Lilliman from V for Vendetta. Both characters also appear in the respective movie adaptations of these books.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:51 PM on April 5, 2008

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials has a handful, but I guess that's fantasy. Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver & its sequels has a good one.
posted by alexei at 11:33 PM on April 5, 2008

Frollo the Archdeacon in Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame.
posted by hellopanda at 12:28 AM on April 6, 2008

The priest in The Thorn Birds had a lot of those qualities, though he was actually a good guy. But you can't deny that he was ambitious, power-hungry, and just a wee bit hypocritical- after all, he had a week of non-stop sex with the female love of his love, and she ended up having his son.
posted by bluekrauss at 3:36 AM on April 6, 2008

Dan Simmons' The Rise of Endymion depicts several very evil power-hungry Catholic authorities. It's the fourth book of the excellent Hyperion Cantos (sci-fi/fantasy).
posted by underwater at 7:41 AM on April 6, 2008

An Instance of the Fingerpost, by Iain Pears
posted by infinitewindow at 8:33 AM on April 6, 2008

Stendhal's The Red and the Black.

The Marquis de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom.
posted by needled at 8:51 AM on April 6, 2008

The Crime of Father Amaro (O Crime do Padre Amaro) by Portuguese author José Maria Eça de Queiroz. It was also recently made into a film starring Gael Garcia Bernal.
posted by Kirjava at 10:01 AM on April 6, 2008

L'Abbe C by Georges Bataille
posted by arcadia at 10:18 AM on April 6, 2008

John Updike's A Month of Sundays features a naughty Reverend reminiscing about his glory days of debauchery and adultery. It is much more comic than anything Brother Justin does, though.
posted by rabbitsnake at 10:40 AM on April 6, 2008

Reverend Veasy of Cold Mountain.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:43 AM on April 6, 2008

William Collins, from Pride and Prejudice
posted by Afroblanco at 12:04 PM on April 6, 2008

Father Anderson from Hellsing.
posted by kosher_jenny at 5:03 PM on April 6, 2008

I'm marking as 'best answer' the most promising leads - thank you all.

(There's an awful lot of French historical fiction, though - I know that France and the Church have had their squabbles, but I'm not Catholic-centric; I'll take Brother Eli's possible insanity over a greedy Bishop any day.)
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 5:19 PM on April 6, 2008

Chocolat the book, not the film. The priest was changed to a mayor for the film.
posted by kjs4 at 6:24 PM on April 6, 2008

More murky morality than outright evil, but you could try Doubt by John Patrick Shanley. It's an excellent play.
posted by ilana at 8:06 PM on April 6, 2008

Seconding The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene; it's where the stock term "whiskey priest" first came from. The unnamed fugitive priest is one of the most interesting religious figures in fiction - full of doubt, liquor and cowardice yet still almost desperately spiritual. It's a great book - one of my favorites.
posted by mediareport at 8:09 PM on April 6, 2008

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