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Leaving Alexandria

Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt

Richard Holloway

  • awardWinner, PEN/Ackerley Prize, United Kingdom, 2013
  • At fourteen, Richard Holloway left his working-class home north of Glasgow and travelled hundreds of miles to an English monastery to be trained for the priesthood. By twenty-five, he had been ordained and was working in the slums of Glasgow. In 2000 he controversially resigned as Bishop of Edinburgh, having lost heart with the the Church over its condemnation of homosexuality.

    In his years as a priest Richard touched many lives, but behind his confident public face lay a mind troubled by questions. Why is the Church, which claims to be the instrument of God’s love, so prone to cruelty and condemnation? And how can a person live with the tension between public faith and private doubt?

    With this long-awaited memoir, Richard gives us a wise, poetic and fiercely honest book that recounts a fascinating life—and attempts to answer those questions.

    Interview highlights:
    Radio 4BC
    ABC Local Conversations with Richard Fidler

    Richard Holloway
    About the Author

    Richard Holloway is an acclaimed writer and respected thinker, and is prominent in the Scottish arts community. He has written for many newspapers in Britain, including The Times, Guardian, Observer and Scotsman, and has presented several series for BBC television and radio.

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    Text publication date:
    27 February 2012
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    Praise for Richard Holloway
    andLeaving Alexandria

    ‘At a time when the world has urgently needed wise and compassionate leadership, this poignant memoir, written with the integrity, intelligence and wit that we expect from Richard Holloway, lays bare the ludicrous and entirely unnecessary mess we have made of religion.’

    Leaving Alexandria is many things. It is a compelling account of a

    journey through life, told with great frankness; it is a subtle reflection

    on what it means to live in an imperfect and puzzling world; and it is a

    highly readable insight into one of the most humane and engaged minds of

    our times. It is, quite simply, a wonderful book.’

    ‘…a spiritual odyssey freighted with deep reflection and agonies of conscience…Even stripped of its religious elements this book is fascinating in being a story of someone who has had a long, committed and distinguished career in what turned out to be the wrong business.’

    ‘There is little attempt to rewrite dogma here for that sours ‘the romance of religion’. Rather it is the loving heart which beats behind every word which gives Richard Holloway’s thoughts and integrity and extends an invitation both to fellow-nomads and those who reject his conclusions because of their conviction of certainty.’

    ‘This beautifully written memoir chronicles a man’s search for the truth within


    Leaving Alexandria is not an account of deeds so much as the constant struggle of

    a thoughtful, humane man to understand himself, the world and God…It is soothing to read this calm account that seeks to understand spirituality without entering into the fireworks surrounding writers such a Dawkins.’

    ‘This is a thoughtful, intelligent inquiry into organised religion written by a compassionate believer.’

    ‘Richard Holloway’s excellent memoir illuminates a beautiful, bittersweet life.’

    ‘Holloway brings a lightness of touch, and a sense of humour (often black) to this unflinchingly honest self-examination. And his exposition is carefully crafted, deftly layered, and sprinkled with quotes from a dazzling array of writers, poets, philosophers and theologians, connecting his particular personal struggles to universal spiritual themes.’

    ‘Holloway has an inquiring mind that was bound to break from religious doctrine. His thinking on religion is penetrating and subtle.’

    ‘A reforming, self-transforming bishop, explicitly anti-authoritarian and “out” on the side of women clergy, gay priests and laity, and the messy, demanding “poor”, it’s perhaps surprising that Holloway help on as long as he did. He retired at the age of 66. But of course he was always living an unusually rich inner life, even, and perhaps especially, when provoked by God’s increasing absence. This is what makes his book exceptional: that we witness the tenacity and yearning that inspired him.’

    Other editions ofLeaving Alexandria
    • Leaving Alexandria
      ISBN: 9781921921452
      27 February 2012
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